The Odd African Giant:Nigeria has Many Curiosities and Oddities

October 06 23:43 2021

We are strongly and fervently religious but spectacularly and regularly relegate the ethos and values of righteousness, piety, consideration, mutual respect, integrity etc. as preached and advanced by these religions as inconveniences

We are quite partisan in politics and choosing a side but regularly fail to turn out in droves to vote in our candidates/parties come election time. Afterwards, we blame rhetoric opposition that won that they are not implementing our preferred mandate! Rather confused thinking

We are predisposed to ethnic bias against each other but have absolutely no qualms bullying, cheating, exploiting, stealing from and killing etc. our own (sometimes in connivance with members of those other ethnicities we claim to hate), as long as our selfish interests are buttered.

We complain about a failed leadership but forget that a leader cannot be greater than the values of the people; the better the people, the better the structures, the higher the likelihood of producing great leadership. Far more than the leadership conundrum, we suffer from a damaged and complicit followership.

We claim to be proudly cultural but despise and demonise our heritage and culture for another’s. We embrace foreign holidays whose origins are rooted in paganism (Christmas, Easter, Halloween etc.) but are ignorant, ashamed and derogatory towards our own. How can we package for the world If we see no value in ourselves? Oyinbo universities teach African culture, heritage and religions but here, we are ashamed and disingenuous to ourselves. How come there’s no degree for studying Ifa? A certification for becoming a Dibia? A research and fellows initiative for our local herbs and medications?

We join the world to condemn racism and carry the cause with loud placards and social media support but are active ethnic bigots in our own backyard. Whatever happened to it is the treasures of the home that one flaunts outside?

We complain about the education standard being low but are complicit, from parents, guardians, teachers to the very students themselves, in looking for ‘expo’ and bribing our way to academic success. Yet we wonder why unemployment is rising!

We said government has no business in business but wail at every attempt to remove government from key sectors and businesses because of the misguided benefits presumed from subsidies. The shame is that the true beneficiaries of these schemes are not part of the majority.

We complain about our professionals leaving for greener pastures but also condemn our education system. The irony is further made rich by the fact that the phenomenon of professional emigration has been going on for a long time!

The conveyor belt keeps producing! And the abroad keeps taking! Are they happy with our mediocre products? Why aren’t we focusing on mass professionals exportation as a scheme? We embrace the problem but fail to see the opportunities.

We demonize polygamy but think LGBTQ rights are natural. We celebrate wealth but not industry, integrity or process thinking. Our females have been so dehumanized, and complicit as well, that the best many can offer is their bodies and a romp in the sack.

We are active on social media but have no social ideology as a people. We celebrate foreign technology but turn up our noses at local innovation.

We complain about food insecurity, rising food prices but are unwilling to pursue agriculture even with the great support and incentives made available. We feel the soil should rightly be beneath our feet and not on our hands.

We complain about insecurity but hail bandits and terrorists when they succeed against our military because we ‘hate’ the president. We celebrate insurgents killing our law enforcement officers but lament when these down tools. A society that wishes to discharge its law enforcement must first make peace with its criminals.

Foreign royalty are celebrated but ours are looked upon as relics of an expired time…

I could go on…

I am proudly Nigerian and would have exhibited some of these ironies and oddities at one point or another. Even penning this down is a further expression of the lamented irony…

Contradictions are often the firmest demonstration of an evolving intellectual self awareness. What is important is learning to channel the budding intelligence with a progressive structure. A country is a living organism; it is birthed, it grows, it evolves, it procreates and ultimately, it dies. The length of its existence is determined by how well it handles its growth and evolution. As the Nigerian music industry has demonstrated, Nigeria can rule the world in any area it chooses to apply itself. We sit at an exalted place of relevance in the comity of nations despite our often challenging circumstances.

It’s time to channel our oddities into opportunities. It’s time to transform our idiosyncrasies into undeniable innovative thinking. One finger cannot make a fist; together we are stronger and better. It is well with our nation.

It is well well with us all. Nigeria we hail thee; God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Femi Onakanren is a Business Development Specialist. He writes from Lagos and could be reached on femi.onakanren@gmail.com

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