By Paul Adujie
Thursday, 24 May 2007
Are Some Nigerians’ Psyche Damaged ?
By Paul I. Adujie
Are some Nigerians suffering from damaged psyche? There are good reasons to ask!
I have observed over an extended period of time that a good number of Nigerians are self critical, a tad too self-critical, to such extent that at first glance, this attitude could be taken as self-loathing.
It appears there are too many Nigerians, who seem to strongly believe that Nigeria is the most corrupt country in the world! There are too many Nigerians who strongly believe that Nigeria has the most rigged elections! There are too many Nigerians who seem to believe that Nigeria is doing worse than Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan in gender equality issues! Nigeria is not where I want her to be gender rights wise, but Nigeria is progressive
There are too many Nigerians who have internalized unreasonable and discriminatory attitudes against us Nigerians, say, by foreign airlines, at foreign airport as we are maltreated and mistreated by customs and immigrations officials.
There seem to be too many Nigerians who are quick to think and say, “we got it coming” or that “it is what we deserve” But is it? Are Nigerians really worse than other humans? Are Nigerians worse than those who plant, harvest and produce cocaine in Colombia and Afghanistan for exports to America? Are Nigerians worse than the Saudi Arabians who blew up Americans and American landmarks on September 11, 2001?
Who defends Nigeria? Why is it that bulk of the leadership are not doing it? Why is it that the ever whining and complaining citizens are not doing it? Some Nigerians are quick to say, every insults hauled at Nigerians and Nigeria, is the “bitter truth” Whose bitter truth? I am tired of this “truth” that says Nigerians are biologically or genetically inferior and behaviorally defectively wired or pre-programmed to malfunction!
I reject that proposition, because I know that it does not fit me! All Nigerians should reject and resist any such propositions and words or actions arising from such!
As when Nigerians are maltreated and mistreated by banks, credit cards companies and other financial institutions and the postal services etc, upon being discriminated and disrespected, some Nigerians would go to the unreasonable extent to defend the abusers. It is such that whenever a Nigerian is mistreated, the first Nigerian person that would learn of such egregious mistreatment and maltreatment, seem to always, always, jump to excuse, explain and justify sundry misconduct which are directed at fellow Nigerians.
Some Nigerians seem to always be in all hurries to lend credence to anyone who accuses a fellow Nigerian! Frequently, even before the facts and the details are known! It is as if, some Nigerians have concluded that they are the scum of the earth, and whatever accusations or allegations made against Nigeria and or Nigerians must fit? Or made to fit?
There are too many Nigerians who believe that everyone is better than Nigerians! It is common to hear some Nigerians talk about America and Europe in the most exaggerated of glowing terms! The most recent twists that has been added to these, is that some many Nigerians now talk about Ghana, South Africa etc in the same terms! Some Nigerians now talk about Ghana and South Africa with such sense of awe and much regal regard, as nations superior to Nigeria and things Nigerian!
Too many Nigerians appear to describe our national challenges in hyperboles and superlative negatives and proceed to assume that altruistic and benevolent foreigners or God would come to rescue us from our challenges or national malaises! But in my estimation, Nigeria’s salvation for Nigerians’ sake, would have to come from Nigerians!
When Abu Ghraib torture was a raging controversy? Some Nigerians commentators announced that Nigerian soldiers would have done worse! Then, there were increased spates of gun violence in America, as we all tried to make sense of these shootings, some Nigerian turned it into sardonic comments of how Nigeria is worse in gun violence. There was a debate about child abuse, incest and child molestations, in America, suddenly, some Nigerians turned the debate into why Nigerian parents do worse, and why we must all accept that incest and sex with children is rampant in Nigeria, but, just concealed by the society! Thereafter, there were the scandal in American churches regarding sex with boys by male priests, some Nigerians again rushed to paint churches and pastors in Nigeria, as permeated by homosexual practices and behaviors as pastors pervasively take advantage of boys in Nigerian churches for their sexual gratifications!
Whenever there is a debate about violent crimes in America, some Nigerians are quick to inject Nigeria into it and insist that Nigeria is worse off, and if you interject that, that is not the case, because you are Nigerian and do not have that experience, you would be told speedily, ah, Nigeria has no statistic on anything and ditto crime statistics! So, one might ask, how would the overconfident commentator know that Nigeria is worse, after he just said there are no statistics to prove his assertions of high rate of gun violence? How does anyone prove a negative? Or divide by zero? He would insist that Nigeria is worse, it is just that there are no records kept! There are crimes in Nigeria, there is gun violence of the armed robbery or cult types. But never Columbine or Virginia Tech types!
We must insist that gun violence does not occur in Nigeria in the same sorts of environments or setting and circumstances or in magnitudes of mindlessness.
This is certainly not an argument that Nigeria is safer than the Vatican or St. Peters Basilica or Mecca and Medina! No! it is to say instead, that Nigeria is better than America, Europe and Asia in key component ways. We have our morally outstanding qualities, we have our old world niceness.
It is the case that apart from material wealth and monetary comparison terms, Nigeria is a better, safer and secured society than most. It is the case that Nigeria has crimes, but not in intensities and magnitudes as in America. Why do some Nigerians always have to insist that Nigerians and Nigeria are worse off in every human endeavors and circumstances? Have some Nigerians accepted that they are subhuman in stone age? I would hope not! I strongly believe that the rest of the world, including America and Europe do have a lot to learn from Nigerians and Nigeria!
Regarding criticisms, when a Nigerian criticizes America in America, a fellow Nigerian may be the first to shout-down that Nigerian critic with, so, why don’t you go back to Nigeria? And if a Nigerian complain about an American critic of Nigeria, a fellow Nigerian will rally to the American’s defense, with, the truth is bitter, the American speaks the truth about the Nigerian condition. But conversely, the Nigerian who seeks to justify the American, British or Jamaican critic’s venom at Nigeria, never seek the “bitter truth” that you may seek to speak about American or British ills! Nigeria is such an easy target of abuses, egregious and untoward discriminatory behaviors, because Nigerians allow it! When those who reserve egregiously bad behavior for Nigerians know and expect reaction and response from the average Nigerians? Minds and behaviors will be changed! Nigerians should let the world know that we are not their foot-mats!
I grew up proud of Nigeria and my Nigerian-ness! I grew up believing that Nigerians are the only citizens on earth and beyond, with the sole right to walk with swagger, and all other human beings who may occasionally engage in swaggers, fakes or are just bloody imitators! So, that leads me to wonder, what happened to Nigerians and Nigeria before my very eyes, and in just less than one generation or in just one life time?
Nigeria is not the first country to suffer economic recession, economic depression or poor governance! What if Nigerians and Nigeria were to suffer a calamitous war? What if the fate that befell Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Congo, South Africa etc was to happen to Nigeria?
Many countries in the Asia suffered economic depression and financial market crises in the recent past, I am yet to come across Asian immigrants in America, who have internalized the economic failures in their motherlands/homelands which necessitated their departures from home and the resulting adoptions of America as home.
Why do some Nigerians speak, write and act as if they feel the need to walk with their heads bowed before the entire world? Nigerians must remain the best humans there can be, and contribute to human development in Nigeria and worldwide, without the need to bow our heads or cower or feel inferior to any other humans!
All Nigerians must know that kneeling, is not a position strength! We must get off our knees metaphorically!
Most immigrants from Asia, Europe and other parts of the so-called third world, are in the same boat in plights and predicaments with Nigerians. Frequently, Nigerian immigrants are better off, because they come equipped with college degrees and the English language, quite unlike most counterparts immigrants. All immigrants (Nigerians and everyone else)! leave home because they seek something different if better from what is available in the homeland. Nigerians are no exceptions. So, why would we take our departures from home and arrivals abroad more painfully than others? Or, why would such, make us feel so bitterly disappointed, bitter and resentful towards everything Nigerian? Why should we act or do as if, we feel inferior to everyone else? Even worse off than immigrants who are similarly situated, with advantage mostly on the side of Nigerians? In America at least, Nigerian immigrants usually have skill sets, education and the English language advantage over all other immigrants, this, according to the United States Census Bureau, when it compared immigrants.
Is the Nigerian psyche damaged? Did economic depression cause that? Did the military form of government? Did economically compelled or economically forced migrations caused our psyche to be damaged? Do we feel inferior to anyone on earth? Why? Why?
Economic depressions have occurred in other countries, other than in Nigeria. Military rule and poor governance have occurred in countries other than Nigeria. There are countries now, unlike Nigeria, that are not in a democracy, and are not even aspiring to be a democracy. There are countries with wars, economic depressions, famine and natural disasters and yet, their citizens are hopeful and hold their heads high!
Is it just the economy? Are there some damage deeper than our collective experience of the ill effect of the Structural Adjustment Program or SAP?
But how about the Nigerians with positive outlook and swagger? Why are we quiet? Must we allow ourselves to be drowned and drummed out? I wonder what happened to some of us? Why do we despair so much more than everyone else? Is our national psyche damaged? Why do some Nigerians feel that Nigerians and Nigeria are somehow, worse than everyone else? What can we do to revive our collective sense of self-worth and our pride in our nation, with swagger and all? Nigerians and Nigeria are not perfect yet, and as I understand it, no one in the world is perfect!