Monday, July 28, 2008

C-J interview with Osi (speaks)

I've had this interview in my blogging pile for a long time and thought about passing it up, but thought better of it and decided to excerpt it. (It's quite long if you want to read the whole thing.)

I enjoy his blog, Osi Speaks! and I love this picture. He seems like really good people; I hope I get to meet him someday!


When did you come here? You came from…

I came here in 1981...from Nigeria. About 200 miles east of Lagos.

What brought you here?

I had just finished high school and was a teenager -- an idealistic teenager -- but very independent. I had always wanted, based on what I had read about America and the American Constitution, and what I had seen on TV, I had the notion that I wanted to be an American. That's because of the ideas that caused the founders to put their thoughts in writing in the Constitution.

And I was intrigued by the fact that they all ran away from oppression everywhere and came here to found a country that was free of oppression, where everyone enjoyed all the liberties that were denied them wherever they came from. Having grown up in Nigeria, I could see how the government denied people their rights. In fact government, to the most extent, really felt that the people didn't have any rights, so the government could do anything it wanted to do with the citizens.

And I had learned that here the government was restrained by the Constitution, and that the people had the right to tell government what to do and what not to do. I thought it was a unique concept. So I decided I wanted to be like those folks I had read about....

America's a big country. How did you decide where in America to go?

From all the reading I had done, I found out -- or I thought I knew -- that the place to go to was somewhere small-town. And I was told to go and get Midwest values, because they were the best values in America: small-town. God-fearing, that kind of stuff....

So then I looked at the map and I found the Midwest and started applying to schools, and I was admitted to Nebraska Wesleyan University....where I received my first degree, which was in business administration, personnel management emphasis.

And because of my love for the Constitution, once I was getting ready to finish my undergrad, the question was what would I want to do next. And I thought, what better way to learn more about that document I have heard about and read about than to go to law school, and try to concentrate on the study of Constitutional law. So I went to law school and studied Constitutional law....

You experienced the hope in coming to this country. The reality of being here has to be a little different. Has it tempered your enthusiasm over the years?

It sure has brought a lot of disappointment to me. Some of the things I see happen today make me wonder if the founding fathers are just rolling around in their graves.

What kinds of things?

One example: One of the things they ran away from, of course, was religious intolerance. Here we are. Everyday we've got to fight about whether Obama is a Muslim or whether somebody else is a Catholic before we decide whether to vote for them. This wasn't the idea. They did not want any kind of religious test, and here we are doing it.

And when they said, "All men are created equal," they really meant it in their hearts, even though they didn't live it. Here we are today: racism everywhere. Folks who wouldn't vote for Obama were stupid enough to tell the whole world, "We are hicks over here, and we don't vote for black folks."

Corruption: Africa is very corrupt. When I left, I thought I'd left all that behind. Being the idealistic me, I thought in the United States, you're not going to have that kind of corruption. Well, my sense is that I just left one corruption for another. The only difference is in degree, but not in substance. And I don't think that the founding fathers, when they came here to try this experiment, wanted to drag the corruption they were running away from to here.

And I'm talking about corruption everywhere. It's not just in the executive branch; it's not just in the legislative branch. It's even in the judiciary. If you read the Preamble, they talk about wanting to establish justice. How many of us can claim that every day we establish justice in this country? I work in the court system, and we're not establishing justice. I don't know what we're establishing. But that's not what the founding fathers wanted....


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