Arrant Nonsense

By Fr. Pat. Amobi Chukwuma

My journey to the priesthood took me to Bigard Memorial Seminary, Philosophy Campus (now St. Joseph’s Major Seminary) Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State in 1984. I studied Philosophy for four years. Philosophy is simply defined as the study of wisdom. We began from the known to the unknown. We studied Logic, Ethics, Epistemology, Anthropology, Metaphysics, Natural Philosophy, Political Philosophy, etc. Even we delved into the Ontological World of Ideas. We studied the philosophy of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Immanuel Kant, Rene Descartes, Confucius, David Hume, Soren Kierkegaard, John Locke, Niccolo Machiavelli, Karl Marx, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, Thomas Hobbes, etc. These great philosophers have passed on but their ingenuities remain. At the end of the four-year study, one presents a memoir of his own philosophical acumen as requirement for obtaining Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy. My topic was: “The Concept of the State in the philosophy of Aristotle.” My moderator was an Irish Priest Lecturer. He specialized in Natural Philosophy and he spoke from the nose. If you did not pay great attention during his class, you would find yourself swimming against the current. It was this great lecturer that I was rushing from Onitsha to Ikot Ekpene to meet up with his mid-morning class in March 1988 when I entered one-chance vehicle at Ogbor-Hill Aba. I was kidnapped for few hours and found myself in a thick forest during morning hours. By God’s grace, I miraculously escaped from the kidnappers’ den. Unfortunately I missed the great expatriate’s Natural Philosophy class, but I did not miss my precious life.

After a tasking scientific research and writing, I submitted my memoir to my moderator. He promised to moderate it as quickly as possible. That was in May 1988, the year of my graduation. I waited painstakingly for days to get my memoir back for typing and final submission to the office of the Rector. On a fateful evening, I knocked at the door of my moderator. He kindly opened the door and welcomed me heartily and with smiles. He offered me a seat. I sat down hopefully. Then I asked him if he had finished moderating my philosophical memoir. He smiled and pointed at his dustbin. He told me to look for it inside the dustbin. I shouted, “What!” He laughed at me. I went to the dustbin and saw my hard researched paper, rumpled and discarded like a wasted product. In fact, I urinated in my trousers and my heart failed me. I thought I was dreaming. I only came back to actual life when he called my name and said, “Gentleman, come close. You have just written a bundle of arrant nonsense. Go and begin afresh.” I died instantly and rose again after some minutes. I mustered courage and asked him, “Please Father, what do you mean by arrant nonsense?” He replied that writing a memoir is like seeing many women and then decided to marry only one of them. “If you are writing on Aristotle, then concentrate on him and not on other authors. Go and read my comments and start afresh. Do not despair.”

I went out that night despairingly. I angrily stood outside his door and began to soliloquize. I pointed towards his door and shouted in a low voice, “What type of arrant nonsense is this by rumpling and casting my philosophical sweat into a dustbin!” Arrant nonsense met arrant nonsense. The lizard said that it was not the beating that the people gave him that annoyed it most, but that it overheard someone shouting, “Knock its head on the ground!” Similarly, it was not the word ‘nonsense’ that aggrieved most, but the adjective ‘arrant.’ Arrant nonsense means something that is extremely bad. Suddenly the white priest opened the door and saw me murmuring. He calmed me down and escorted me friendly to my hostel. Strength and hope came back to me. Within a couple of days, I corrected the so-called ‘arrant nonsense’ into plausible wisdom. At last my moderator scored me very high. The arrant nonsense died a natural death.

Recently a married woman came into my office with bruised face and tears. She complained that her husband beat sense out of her that morning for nothing sake. I consoled her fatherly. I asked her the reason for the rascality. She told me that the husband alleged that she slapped him mercilessly in his dream in the night. Therefore he retaliated in the morning when she was in the kitchen preparing breakfast. I exclaimed, “What arrant nonsense is this!” There and then, I called the husband on phone and invited him to report at my office with dispatch. He came in within fifteen minutes time. He confirmed that her wife slapped him in the presence of ‘igwe-mmadu’ (publicly) in his dream last night. I explained to him that dream is a fantasy and not an actuality. Surprisingly he shouted, “Father, slap is slap!” I pleaded with him to apologize to his wife and take her to hospital for medical attention. He refused. Boiling with anger, he left unceremoniously and banged heavily at my office door. My eyes turned red and I went after him shouting, “What arrant nonsense is that?!”  He disappeared into oblivion. The bruised wife went out sorrowfully to seek medical attention.

It is arrant nonsense when two bulls are fighting and the grass becomes the victim. The Academic Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike for months now due to non-fulfillment of their financial agreement by the Federal Government. As a result of the dispute, millions of university students are at home. An idle mind, they say, is the devil’s workshop. This can worsen the insecurity situation in this country. While the regrettable strike is ongoing, our politicians are lavishing millions of money to purchase political parties’ forms of interest in pursuing their political ambitions, come 2023. In other words, the money to pacify ASUU is in the hands of the politicians. What arrant nonsense is this?

Arrant nonsense manifests itself in the flow of innocent blood all over the country. No day passes without hearing of massacring of people here and there. The Divine Decalogue which stipulates “Thou shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13) has been discarded. Human life, which is the greatest value, has been devalued at the altar of might and wealth. We seem to be retrogressing into the State of Nature, where might was power and the survival of the fittest reigned. The bloody herdsmen, the terrorists, the kidnappers, the known and unknown gunmen, the human ritualists, the cultists, the rapists and the yahoo boys are on the loose. Constitutionally, the foremost function of the Federal Government is the protection of lives and properties of the citizens. Unfortunately this has failed. Nigeria is thus at boiling point. Things have fallen apart and the center can no longer hold. Who will rescue us from the arrant bloody nonsense?