OP-ED Opinions 

Aluta And Generational Change One By Adeola Soetan

* We made bonfires at the barricade during our time as youth protesters.

* They now play music, make stages and invite artistes to play for them in a carnival-like environment attracting a massive crowd.

* We were inspired to struggle based on our practical experience, locally and internationally, and our exposure to revolutionary ideas and historical events which we learned, recruited into by revolutionary Socialist organizations and other radical platforms, then tutored and “upgraded” before we became “comrades” in the struggle.

* Most of the younger leading protesters of today are hardly inspired by any radical or revolutionary ideas but by their practical experience based on irreconcilable contradictions of the bourgeois system and daily assault on their wellbeing by the pro-rich and anti-poor capitalist ruling class.

* Unlike the young digital generation, mobilisation for struggle was difficult because there was no smartphone, no social media platforms and online print, radio and television stations. We relied on the conventional media, few newspapers and government owned broadcast media stations. Except PUNCH, Guardian, Tribune, Vanguard and later the Republic Newspaper that took risk to publish our “inflammable and seditious” press releases, government television and radio stations would not report our press statements except when massive protest broke, then they would “break the news” cautiously in the “national interest” because the media, as well as the citizens, was under the jackboots of military dictatorship.

We relied more on posters and leaflets which comrades distributed from campus to campus, state to state moving in commercial vehicles with the attendant risk of accident and arrest. And if you were arrested, the whole campaign materials became wasted.

*The young generation had a tremendous advantage of social media which broke the age-long monopoly and censorship of terrestrial media. Posters, leaflets, pictures of protest are sent across and abroad with a click of the smartphone. Zoom meetings of the planning stage of protests, reviewing movements and raising funds for protests are done easily now without leaving your sitting room or office.

Mass protests are also done globally online, the terrestrial media are now running after social media platforms to “break news”. On the spot interviews are done online, reports of protests and comments done online with prompt responses by thousands of people. Power is now on our hands because communication is power. “Revolution” is now being carried out online to change government’s bad policies and programmes because of global pressure and exposure.

In this generational shift of circumstances, strategies and tactics of conducting struggles by the younger, global and digital citizens, it will be dangerous for any revolutionary organisations or individuals to ignore these developments. Doing so will be an unnecessary arrogance or naivety of recognizing changes that are now helping to propel struggle forward and better. We need to always patiently study the circumferences, appreciate events as they develop and actors as they emerge. Snubbing or disparaging the events will be counterproductive.

The #ENDSARS is a big event that caught many leading older activists including myself unaware. For me, that’s a good development and a leap because protests organisation is becoming a “social bomb”, no more the “monopoly” of ex-this, ex-that, great leaders of struggle who have made and still make great sacrifices.

When I spoke with many at the beginning of the struggle on the need to quickly intervene and gave it an ideological content beyond #ENDSARS demand by the courageous youths, some of us were bogged down with the protest slogan, the character of the protest, its morality, and limitations, some felt that struggle not organised by us “the Seriki struggle” could be snubbed or disparaged. Others agreed to intervene qualitatively and broaden the scope of demands, give it necessary ideological content, recruit new layers to be discovered into revolutionary organisations. This, for me, is the best way to go.

When a struggle of this magnitude breaks and is coordinated by “unknown faces”, the best is to intervene qualitatively and see how far it can go before the movement dissolves.

Many activists of today were recruited during anti-military struggles, June 12 actualization protests, Gani Fawehinmi led National Conscience struggle to defy military dictatorship before NC became NCP. I was recruited in 1986, less than three months I became a student, through my write-up regularly pasted on campus notice boards, into the Association of Campus Journalists before “converted” as a member of SCAP (now Democratic Socialist Movement DSM) during the struggle to unban Great Ife student union. Eventually, I became the president of Great Ife Students Union not by my ambition but by organisational decision.

Let’s go on a recruitment drive, raise our banners and propagate our ideas. Solidarity!

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