2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
Tomorrow Is Here: Making Meaning of a Mantra
By M.O. Ene
“Uche bụ akpa; onyeọbụla nya nke ya.” (The mind is like a bag; everyone has one.) Everyone has something to say; opinions are a-dozen-a-dime. When we craft a mantra, a slogan, we must clarify what it means, no matter how catching the phrase. Clarification is more desirable when a mantra is rendered in a different language. That’s why many Igbo idiomatic phrases fail to have the same meanings or effectiveness when translated into English.
In “Tomorrow is Here,” there has been an apparent inability to adapt and adopt an acceptable Igbo equivalence. It left everyone using the English version, which still needs clarification. Lately, some critics question the real meaning of the phrase, the campaign slogan of PDP gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Peter N. Mbah.
Almost everyone agrees that Enugu State is not where it ought to be. The reasons may vary, but the facts on the ground are self-evident: deficiency in infrastructure, endemic exploitation, lack of basic amenities… especially water and waste disposal, and intractable insecurity. Amidst these social problems hangs the mantra: ‘Tomorrow is Here’! It raises more than a few eyebrows.
Peter Mbah knows the facts; he is a resident. Addressing a forum of special assistants to the current state governor, Mbah gave an insight into the philosophy of tomorrow manifesting in the present:
“We have what it takes to move Enugu to the next level of development. We have development programmes that will scale up production. The time for the industrialisation of our state is now. There is no more time to waste. There’s no more procrastination. That’s the meaning of our tagline, ‘Tomorrow Is Here’” (petermbah.net, 11.11.22).
In essence, Enugu State has here and now all it takes to build a better tomorrow, make Enugu great again. At a town hall meeting with the people of Nsukka at Ovogovo on the same Friday, Felix Asogwa, a professor of international relations, reechoed a reason for the choice, “Your slogan, ‘Tomorrow Is Here,’ is beautiful because you have manifested it in the private sector, and we believe you’re bringing in that knowledge to our state.”
Just yesterday, Buchi Nnaji posited in a pro-youth piece titled, “Understanding the DECEIT of ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ and the HOPE of Peter Mbah’s ‘Tomorrow Is Here’:
“’Tomorrow Is Here’ as declared by the PDP guber candidate is not just a slogan, but more like a mission statement. It signifies the arrival of a systematic plan to liberate youths from the bondage of deceit. It is a wake-up call to give the young generation who are of productive age a sense of responsibility. It means that Peter Mbah is coming to hand over leadership to the youths proper.”
The mantra is a message of hope, a call to check what we have, and use it to embrace a new dawn for all. The Igbo say that “echi dị ime” (lit. ‘tomorrow is pregnant’): We know it will bring forth a child; with current technology, we can foretell the gender and plan a baby shower with the correct colors! Thus, tomorrow favors those who prepare plots, plant seeds today, and plan to reap bountifully. We cannot wait for heavy, dark clouds to drop contents before taking utensils out of the way.
I get the current concerns of those who find the mantra either empty or arrogant. I did not take wholesale to the chant when it first appeared. My contention was on finding an easy Igbo equivalent phrase. To date, no equivalent Igbo catchphrase resonates; none makes good sense to me.
In a campaign meme came “Echi abịago” (‘Tomorrow has come’); that means ‘today.’ There is the English-Igbo gibberish: “Echi atụgo down”! Monsignor Obiora Ike used “Chi efogo” (‘It’s a new dawn’). “Nke iru ka” (‘the future is great’) makes good sense, but “nkeiruka” now applies to ‘voluptuous bosom’ (as “azụka” applies to ‘daring derriere’). Other suggestions include: ‘Echi abịala, Taa bụ gboo, Echi dị ime,’ etc.
The solution to understanding the slogan better, as stated earlier, lies in adapting and adopting an appropriate Igbo idiom: “Chi echi efoo taata!” The phrase implies that the dawn of tomorrow has been revealed by current developments, which is what “Tomorrow is Here” means with the emergence of Peter Mbah: Here is the future.
A search reveals that “Tomorrow Is Here” dates to a 1977 album by American jazz musician Willie Bobo, where he needs no alcohol to get energy flowing through the veins and the body to the brain because “tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow is here!”
In a 2021 online article, Ralph Hamann borrowed the title from Gretchen C. Daily’s moving mantra: “Tomorrow is here. There is a role for everyone.” He wrote about renewed commitment to action on global climate crisis: “Here is yet another instance, where the future has arrived: In this turbulent time of transition, we are all called to reinvent ourselves.” The 2023 elections call for nothing less.
With these clarifications, we will wrap this up with some relevant lines from a song by The Monkees titled, “Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow”:
Look out, here comes tomorrow
How I wish I could borrow
I see all kinds of sorrow
Look out, here comes tomorrow!’
Regardless of ‘all kinds of sorrow,’ we should borrow the hope of tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow is here. #ChiEchiEfooTaata
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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