Six months ago, I became a villager. To the uninitiated, it is a hidebound and intimidating online community where old, lionised villagers could tear you apart limb for limb. Equally, the robust village square with all its weaknesses could turn out to be a platform where writers’ egos are massaged in spite of the gormless and witless opinions of those writers. There, you face a dedicated grumbling bunch of commentators and radical bloggers who are mostly brutes assigned by discernible fraternity to denounce, abuse and offload repressed Ajegunlesque offensive attitude which goes to pollute the written credo of NVS as a solid base for marketable ideas.
Wayo Guy in his “The Silent Critics at The Nigerian Village Square”, May 14 2008 and Dr Olusegun Fakoya’s “Need for Civility in Public Discourse-The NVS Experience”, June 18 2008 are both unflattering and sobering analysis of the tempestuous discourse in the square. They reconceptualised the dialectics of responses and silence to a writer’s opinion which I found quite instructive. Writers are sensitive-driven souls with uncommon intelligence and breadth of understanding. They are self-indulgent creatures, egotistical and paranoid. They cudgel out words through their muses and string them into a filigree of luminous sentences and grand paragraphs. They mix words together into a stand alone article, essay or review. Above all, they are easily bruised especially when their newly crafted baby is ripped apart by abuse and name calling by half-literate oafs or when their lone effort is met with wounding silence.
Such is the enraging powerlessness of many contributors to this platform where writers and commentators have no rule and just go straight into polemical denunciations, sponsored attacks and unparalleled feather-ruffling. I have had my share of this loot. I am now a hardened prisoner of NVS that had passed through the afflicting furnace of its baptism of fire. When I wrote about certain tribe, there were fiery denunciations and muscular threats. I have said it elsewhere that the momentum that brought about Internet journalism was anchored on the need to offer genuine and robust alternative ideas.
Nigeria Village Square is an online petition domain which operates in a circle of success and has the public interest rather than narrowly egotistical considerations to protect. None of this is hopelessly overambitious even though there is increasingly fractious relationship between writers and professional commentators. I believe that an amount of radical activism is perhaps necessary to set a on a positive track. However, NVS needs to keep our questioning commentators, our free spirited bloggers from dragging down the terrain of reasoned arguments.
There could be quarrels but quarrels about the strength of public discourse and moral choice rather than the personality involved. Writers may be oversensitive, but they could develop a unique brand of knowing and readiness to embrace the uncensored freedom of opinions which at this trajectory and times seems in tune with the creed of NVS. Writers, who uphold argument which defies propaganda and popular sentiment, promote the triumph of ideas, of good over evil and could think the unthinkable should be encouraged with robust supportive comments. This will shame the inaction of many silent critics and exposed the myth of silence as acceptance or rejection.
The commonest good is to defend and further widens the salient ideas on the NVS domain rather than trigger a mass retreat of otherwise fine writers with animating and challenging ideas. So, the active elimination of those conditions that could provoke intellectual flight on this robust platform should be a task both for the writers and commentators. Since its inception over 5 years ago, NVS has opened up intellectual space with a readiness for ongoing and systematic process of enlightenment. This flagship cyberspace has continued to throttle out radical debates, animating controversies as happened in my series of contributions on Igbo tribal impulses and had on many occasions taken on causes involving racial injustice, humanitarian assistance and citizenry empowerment.
Commentators should not be over-cautious, timid and capitulating when fresh, outside- the- box thinking dances around the square. Knowledge transcends tribe, personality and ethnicity. The reality of our history still has ember of contesting tribal struggles but we should seek to resolve or transcend this silly sentiment and give critical acclaim to whoever it is due. For instance, do we employ the same uniform marker for writers on this platform? The answer is no!
Adesanmi’s “On ‘Professors Ibrahim Babangida, Muhammadu Buhari, and Abdulsalami Abubakar” NVS 24 June 08 was a well written topical piece when it danced round the square. This profound and interesting piece had only 1 short comment for all the days of its shelf life on the square. Why? This is the subtext of Wayo Guy advocacy. Encourage writers and remove the burdensome veil of tribe, scholastic background, personality, jealousy, writing style and ethnicity when pieces roam around the square.
Commentators must be eternally curious and welcome all new comers without dismissing people whose names they do not recognise. They might turn out to be talents with great credibility. Unfortunately, it is too late for the NVS Administration to garrison police at the entrance of NVS to look out for foul language, insults and threats. That will be working against the guiding principles of the square. Now, let the hatchet men do their job!