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Observations of a Young Nigerian Female . Powered by Blogger.

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I am young, "normal" and I like to write. People say I eat too much, people don't know what they are saying.

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AWA KONTRI


A few days ago, one of my lecturers asked this question in class, “Is multilingualism a blessing or a curse to Nigeria?
Every student who answered the question said it was a curse. The lecturer agreed; he told us, that language should be a unifying factor for people living together in society and he bewailed the fact that it appears to be the greatest divisor in our country. The professor was not wrong, but here’s the problem, we have more than one problem. Language is not the only one; it is not even the worst one.
There's more.
We are corrupt. We are very corrupt; all of us. We are huge fans and defenders of unethical and illegal ways of getting things done. We do what works for us; not what is correct and/or works for everyone else.
Do you wonder why we are corrupt? Or, as I’m sure you’re thinking, why I think you’re corrupt?”
It is because we are selfish. We care only about ourselves, and everyone else can fall in a ditch. We do not concern ourselves with the happenings in other people’s lives. Here’s a phrase used a lot in our country, “it’s not my concern”, and some varieties. I do not think that a group of people exist who say this more than we do. It is why we have no homeless shelters, few scholarships, an embarrassingly low number of free clinics and more crime than is normal.
Them: That guy will die there; let’s take him to the hospital.
Us: It’s not my concern.
Them: You’re on the wrong lane, it could cause an accident.
Us: it’s not my concern.
Them: That kid is an orphan now, who will pay her fees?
Us: How is it my business? Did I kill her parents?
Them: they’re marrying off that small girl to such an old man.
Us: So? Did I give birth to her?
Them: You’re using inferior materials to make this road; it’ll be bad in a few months.
Us: Ehen? I have a private jet.
Them: We need more security in Plateau State.
Us: Wait first; I have a rally to dance at.
Them: People are dying in that village.
Us: It’s not my concern.
Would you like to know why we’re so unconcerned about other people?
Probably not, but still, here you go;
We’re greedy. We are so greedy. We’re a bunch of greedy people from different ethnic groups, brought together for a greed contest. Where do you think the “wickedness” springs from? GREED.
GREED: A selfish or excessive desire for more than is needed or deserved, especially of money, wealth, food or other possessions.
We want too much. We are not content with the average life, nooooooo! Everybody wants 5 story castle-like homes, an Olympic-sized pool, 20 cars, private jets and domestic help that wear uniforms from the 90s.
We don’t just want too much, we want everything; ours and the other guy’s.
This is why allocated revenue is never enough; it’s why funds are released, but do not arrive complete; it is why tuition fees are frighteningly high.
Why so greedy? You might not have asked, but I’ll answer.
We eat too much. We like food too much. We cook more than we can finish. We cook more than we need for satisfaction. We buy more than we can cook. We eat more than we can afford. We eat way more than we plant. We spend too much on food, and then we need more money to buy more food that we don’t really need. We mourn with food; we celebrate with food; we marry for food; we boast with food; we insult with food; we thank with food. It is all about food here.
I wish that was it, all the problems, alas, it is not, there’s more.
In Nigeria, we tolerate some people and resent the rest, for reasons too absurd to mention, but I’ll mention them anyway.
We judge people by stereotypes and we refuse to let go of our badly researched stereotypical views.
The Igbo man does not like the Yoruba man because the Yoruba man is too proud and the Yoruba man cannot care less about the Fulani man who he believes is too violent. The Hausa man notices all of this but he’s pre-occupied with the Ijaw man who he thinks is too lazy, while that man won’t say a word to the Efik man because that one is too loud, and finally none of this matters anyway, because we all think the Igbo man is greedy and will sell his grandmother for 2 kobo.
The one year, mandatory National Youth Service was supposed to change all of this, but did it? Did it really? We still consider each other unworthy of trust for reasons we cannot explain to ourselves. We enjoy the hate, we encourage the hate. The resentment is part of our cultures and principles, the unbreakable “laws of the land”.
I do not proffer solution, I cannot. We will be hard-pressed to find any human or group of humans who can proffer an effective and sustainable solution, hard-pressed indeed.
If you have ever wondered why we are inexcusably behind in every form of development, here’s why, in simple words;
“Your money or your life!” says the protector to the “protected”.
“I’m bored”, says the ruler, “all they have on TV is boring news stories of poverty and death in my state. What do I do today? It’s so hard to decide. Pay for a giant, expensive of some random human or appoint a commissioner for Jollof Rice? Eenie Meenie Minie Mo.”
“In order to obtain a free wheelchair”, says the poster for disability campaign, “The individual with the disability requiring the use of a wheelchair must write a ten page essay proving that he/she needs and cannot afford a wheelchair. The essay must be typed on brown paper and hand delivered by the individual in need of the wheelchair to a region at the other end of the country. Then, you might stand a chance to get a wheelchair by raffle draw” (You know what? Forget it. I’ll just crawl along, thank you very much.)
“The opposition party is trying to ruin the good name of our leader and muddy the reputation of the ruling party in the process”, says the leader in response to chaos, “I’m sorry dozens are dying, but it is not my fault, people have been dying for years.”
This could be totally irrelevant, and might seem like a bid to proffer a solution, which would be contrary to my earlier statement, read it anyway. I’m told that after I was born, a bunch of relatives followed my mother from the hospital to the house; clapping, singing and dancing; in the streets, on foot. Now, I encourage you to not focus on how tiring it must have been for the new mother, I’m trying to illustrate a point. My people are very expressive. All emotions are fully and properly expressed. When most women from my country experience anger, they characteristically begin with a consistent and rapid tapping of the feet and a heaving of the chest. Occasionally, if she is standing, she puts a hand on her waist, not in the way people do on red carpets, no, she grips her waist with one hand. It is easy for most women from my country to do this, because, a majority of said women possess flesh around the hips which supports the hand that grips the waist effectively, so they do not tire easily. When men from my country experience sadness, they fold their arms and shake their heads slowly, from side to side.
Here is the point; the people described above could be from any of the ethnic groups in Nigeria, and they could speak just about any of the 500+ languages spoken in Nigeria. Aside from a few cultural, regional and individual differences, we Nigerians are just the same jolly, hungry, beefing people, some of us are crazier than the rest, but it’s not that big a deal. We can be great together, I don’t know how, but we can.
We are our own problem.
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8 comments:

  1. Absolutely!
    We are our own problem!
    The change begins with us.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I used to say that individual actions can spark of a great reaction,we still have a long way to go in this #awakontri

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A long way indeed! I hope you still say this, because I hope soon enough there'll be enough individual sparks to start a fire and burn down the illusion.

      Delete
  3. We really are our own problem

    ReplyDelete
  4. I would have love to give you a round of applause or two for this masterfully articulated piece but then I'm sad, sadden by how your beautiful piece reveals clearly how ugly and utterly messy our world here is. So I fold my arms as any other man in this world would, and I shake my head in pain, anguish, deep regret and trepidation. We are our own problem; all of us!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, very much. I'm glad you like it, then again, I'm sad that this is true.

      Delete

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