STEEEEERRRRRIIIIKE #2!

10 Nov

Although today is a Wednesday, it is more like a Saturday for much of Nigeria. Tomorrow and Friday will also resemble Saturdays. Starting today, every employee of the Federal Government of Nigeria will go on strike for at least three days, possibly more. The demonstration has to do with immense frustrations over a promise the government made early in the year to institute a new minimum wage. They said it would begin in July. After seeing no change in salaries, workers threatened to strike, but the government promised a salary increase to the new minimum wage by October. Surprise, surprise, the workers have yet to see the increase. Workers are prepared to strike for longer than three days should they not see the intended result they are hoping for. In a country that is incurably religious (mostly Christian and Muslim, scary to me at times how intense people are about religion here), this has severe implications for the upcoming Muslim Festival (Eleya). Last night on the news, a prominent mosque leader from Abuja, the nation’s capital, warned that this strike has implications to ruin the entire holiday, as many Muslims around the country are preparing to leave for Mecca (the pinnacle of the Islamic religion). With a nation-wide strike in place, these people’s plans could be destroyed. Other Muslims making preparations for the upcoming festival could also be severely hindered.

This is the first time federal government employees have gone on strike this year. Teachers working under the state government of Oyo (the state I am living in), however, have already gone on strike this year from June to July, also over minimum wage and salary disputes for teachers of the state. My mom falls under this category, as she is a teacher at a public school here in Ibadan. This morning, we had a long talk about the labor strikes as she was making me breakfast (normally I make breakfast for myself on weekdays because she is at school). When I initially asked her how many times she has been on strike this year, she just started laughing.

Furthermore, all university employees at every single university in Nigeria have begun a strike today that could potentially last for over two weeks. Since May, universities in the eastern part of Nigeria have been on strike over salary grievances, particularly a minimum wage adjustment. Due to the fact that state governments in the east and the federal government have yet to do ANYTHING about their dispute, universities all over Nigeria are joining them in their strike beginning today, to help support their argument and to show that all universities are in this together. How does this effect me? It’s too early to tell, but it’s possible that I won’t be starting classes until January. Although I am supposed to start classes on November 29th, registration for non-freshman doesn’t begin until December 7th. Classes begin anytime from around December 9th-14th. Therefore, with the Christmas and New Years holidays, it is very feasible that I won’t be taking any classes until January. Welcome to Nigeria!

3 Responses to “STEEEEERRRRRIIIIKE #2!”

  1. Karen Born November 11, 2010 at 9:37 AM #

    Hopefully, you will not have to wait until January for your classes to start. I would imagine that you are quite anxious for them to begin!

    I know you explained how the minimum wage/salary dispute strikes have yet to get the government to follow through. However, reading this makes me wonder if going on strike there has a history of being ultimately effective in getting the government to comply with other demands…interesting blog!

  2. Donald Volk November 12, 2010 at 5:41 PM #

    Hello Kevin,
    Just read your latest communique to Grandma and we both feel for you about the strike.
    Attended a concert at your old high school last night and guess who was in the orchestra playing an oversize violin? You guessed right and he has musical talents.
    We are both well and I am trying to keep up with the falling leaves. Have been shredding them the garden to enrich the soil so that next year we can grow bigger weeds!
    Tommorrow we are all off for a resort weekend to celebrate our 50th weddding. Wish you were here and so does Katie as she needs swimming lessons.
    That about covers it and we miss you..please be careful
    Love,
    Your Grandparents

  3. Valerie Cleveland November 14, 2010 at 4:06 AM #

    Hello Kayote,

    Your Yoruban mom and I have much in common. Teacher strikes in Wisconsin are equally ineffective. Matter of fact strikes are now against the law. I can even be thrown in jail for striking!
    I have read you thoughts on suppressed indigenous languages. Native American cultures, like the Lakotas, are a model of what happens to indigenous people when their culture and language are discourage and ultimately lost. The people feel disconnected and worthless without their heritage and ancestry. The end result is depression, alcoholism, and abuse. Well, let me stop their because you are the one running the blog. I am not a big fan of blogs, but yours is marvelous, Kevin.
    I have one more thought to share then I am done. After taking a trip to West Africa, Picasso was so inspired by the African art that when he return home he started a new form of art called cubism. Picasso’s cubist phase is regarded as some of his best works of art. Yet the African culture that inspired Picasso is not honored. Historically, art has gone through stages of ultra realist art to the more sophisticated abstract art that became famous in the 1960. The abstracted African pieces that inspired Picasso was created somewhere around the 1800’s. So, it can be argued that Western African art was at a far more sophisticated stage than Europe and America in the early 1800’s. I would suspect the same is true about their music as well. Sadly, much of the precious African Art was destroyed as Europe took over and burned down African Kingdoms in search of gold. I was delighted to see an entire exhibit of Nigerian Art was on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. So, perhaps the Nigerian culture is finally getting the recognition of it’s greatness that it deserves. Maybe it’s hard to get a taxi in Nigeria, but it is certainly not lacking in culture.

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