15 May Jude Idada, Thomas Sankara and the Future of Africa.
1.What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Jude Idada. I am a writer, dramatist and filmmaker.
2. What compelled you to write Sankara?
I wrote Sankara to show Africans what true leadership looks like. To disabuse their minds from the notion that we have to always choose between thieves and people without vision; the one who has stolen the less is our man, irrespective of his capacity for leadership, his vision or his ability to motivate the citizenry to do more and participate in nation building. That we can ask for more from the people who we elect into power. We can choose better. We can know how we are, why are where we are, where we ought to be, what we have to do and the direction we need to take. I wrote it to unmask who and what our true enemies are and why discovering this truth is the key to unlocking the door behind which is trapped the true greatness of Africa.
3. You have written in other genres – prose and poetry, why did you write Sankara as a play? Do you think history is better in drama form?
I wrote Sankara as a play because I believe it was necessary for the audience or reader to see him live in order to understand, appreciate, assimilate and be inspired by his message. Reading prose or poetry is passive. But drama is active. There is an interactivity that is needed for the kindling of embers of excitement and engagement. That is what I wanted the play to invoke in anyone who comes in contact with it. Sankara the man, Sankara the message, Sankara the mission, Sankara the future. All of these coming together in one place at one time to explode into an active participation in the moment and hopefully a continual engineering a transformative process that follows the viewer towards a better future, in which they are actively a part of.
4. One hardly ever thinks about Thomas Sankara without thinking about the concept of an African Renaissance. Do you think Thomas Sankara, if he had lived, would have brought about a renaissance in Burkina-Faso?
Oh yes he would have. He was already doing that. In three plus years he had done great things. Herculean previously impossible tasks had been made possible by him. He was changing the future right there in the present. A positive change that needed to stop by those who exist in the dark to thwart the progress of the many for that of the select few. He was their enemy because he was unshackling and enlightening the people to take charge of their lives and secure a better future. He had started the renaissance which was unfortunately thwarted and reversed by the villainous Blaise Compaore, Gilbert Diendere and the rest of the imperialist sponsored hyenas.
5. Had Thomas Sankara survived, what might his policies have implied for other countries in Africa, say Nigeria for instance.
First and foremost it would have caused us to be more self-reliant and self sustaining. That message of Africa for Africa would have inspired in Nigeria a great reawakening being that we are a very import driven, “western” wannabee country and people. We validate ourselves so much through the approval of the West. What Sankara’s policies would have done is force a rethink, foster a need to diversify, push us to focus more on creating instead of consuming, made us proud to be who we are, and then most importantly destroy corruption through massive education and a judiciary rises to its responsibility. With Sankara’s emphasis on integrity, frugal management of finances and massive war on corruption, his policies would have ultimately been the saving grace of Nigeria and Africa who suffer the blight of these multifarious socio-economic and political malaise. If corruption is destroyed in Nigeria and Africa then the renaissance will be possible. Corruption is the biggest evil that bedevils us and the greatest weakness we have in the face of the onslaught by the imperialists who want us to feed and power their economies to our detriment. Sankara’s no nonsense onslaught on corruption would have saved the continent and caused a true development that was funded by, executed by and enjoyed by Africans.
6. It’s been said that one can’t go forward looking backward. In these days of Afro-politanism and Afro-futurism, what, in your opinion, is the role of history in Africa’s quest for the future?
History is everything. It is not just about a prerequisite for the creation and acceptance of identity, it is also a teacher and a reminder. It helps us develop into better human beings and reminds us constantly of the errors made by others and in some cases ourselves. It also points to us the forces we fight again. Without history we will be caught up in a timeless loop, in which we continuously repeat our mistakes. History is the summation of experiences that nurture a protective, progressive and futuristic mindset. We learn, we dream and we achieve on the bedrock of history. A society without history is doomed as it will have no culture, no identity, no codex of achievements and failures, no honour or value system or a pantheon of time tested organisational structures. Our quest for a greater future than our present or our past is predicated on understanding what our past was and what our present is because we need to build a foundation to build in. Who do we want to be? Why do we want to be who we want to be? How can we be who we want to be? We can find answers in history. There is marketability and success in being unique and not a pretext to being what others want you to be or even being a copy of what other people are. Life is a give and take, we can be wholly African even if we borrow from abroad and make it ours in our image and within the parameters we have chosen to exist. Even the human body defends itself and stays alive through history. It understands its past and knows when to fight and when to accept. It uses history to understand how it deals with new experiences. It uses history to adapt. That I believe is the way we should progress into a wholly successful African future, through the prism of Afropolitanism and Afro-futurism.
7. On African writing, please comment on whether you think African literature exists; given the multiple races/languages and other ‘barriers’ to pan-Africanism on the continent.
Yes it exists. African literature to me is not necessarily the body of work as that should be borderless and limitless but the mind that ideates it. That mind is powered by a uniquely African experience that in itself is both grounded n the continental and the Diaspora. It might speak of things and situations that are foreign to the continent but it does so through the African prism of thinking that is fuelled and sustained by the experiences of the mind that creates it. This experiences are African, even if they exist in a situation and location that is far removed from Africa or African communities in the world. So the races, tribes, languages and religions that overflow on the continent are not barriers to Pan Africanism or the “African thought-set” but are accoutrements of it. They enable it. They burnish it. They make it flourish with variance and colour. Because even in their differences, the single line of familiarity runs through, a consonance of thought, that speaks to anyone coming from the same umbrella of existence – This is African.
8. If you were asked to recommend a target audience to read/watch Sankara what would it be and why?
I will say anyone above 10. Anyone capable of complex, rationale thought. Anyone who understands the dynamics between an antagonist and a protagonist in a world that is evolving in a flux around them. Anyone who can identity with the plight of Africa in the face of Western socio-economic and political onslaught, on the micro to the macro levels. Anyone who dreams the dream that Africa will rise up to even greater heights than it ever was. Anyone in search for a concise African progressive vision. Anyone who aspires to lead. Anyone who wants to be truly free.
9.What are you currently working on – another play, a new novel etc?
I am finishing up a feature film, which I wrote and directed alongside two collections of short stories which are inspired by true events, three plays, one an adaptation of a young adult book of mine – Didi Kanu and the Singing Dwarfs of the North, the other a spiritual play and the other an adaptation of a bestselling political non-fiction book and a psycho-erotic novel.
10. Comment about publishing in Nigeria.
Publishing in Nigeria is improving even if it is not back to the great days of yore. That being said there are better quality stock and intellectual content. Also the finishing is universally competitive. There is more emphasis on editing and proofreading. The challenge still remains poor distribution, lack of bookstores and libraries, the perennial threat of piracy and the high cost of quality publishing.
11. Any last words?
I will draw from the words of Captain Thomas Sankara – Lets make sure that the African market belongs to the Africans. Let us produce in Africa, manufacture in Africa and consume in Africa. Lets produce what we need and consume what we produce. Our Motherland or Death? We shall overcome.