Everyone knows that the present state of Nigeria is one with a myriad of issues. These issues are bad enough to give you migraine in an attempt to disseminate them, and they are simply too chaotic for words. I am a person who is extremely passionate about Nigeria as I lived there for 16 years of my life, but sometimes I feel as though I shouldn’t be bothered. At other times, I feel a huge sense of responsibility on me because it is where I come from and it has formed part of my identity. The point of this article is not to rant (maybe a little) about the numerous issues Nigeria is plagued with, but just a fraction of it… which is ‘our mind-set’.
I stumbled on an article reported to be by Chimamanda Adichie: ‘Why can’t he just be like everyone else?’ on a certain blog. This was an article which highlighted her displeasure on the recent anti-gay bill passed by the government. Whilst reading this piece, I couldn’t help but admire such eloquence and the intelligent arguments she had come up with. In my opinion, her arguments were balanced and well thought through. Then, I went on to read several comments on how she must be stupid and had lost her mind for what she had written.
This really made me think that the number one problem with Nigeria is not even corruption, rather it is our mind-set. I have heard it somewhere that Nigerians are highly educated people… but what is the point of education if it does not reflect in our thought processes and behavior?
The popular mind-set amongst most Nigerians is that which is either judgmental, superficial, competitive, insensitive or laced with some form of double standards. These traits may not be initially obvious since it is the norm, and somehow they have a way of showing up in our character with or without our consent. I write as someone who has great respect for my culture and up-bringing but have also had to unlearn some certain ideals and values I unintentionally internalized.
Whilst I see a large amount of Nigerians as resilient, hardworking and determined people, I believe majority still resist mental change! Anything from the conventional suddenly becomes bad. This brings me back to a conversation I had with my Nigerian course-mate about some generic issues about women in Nigeria. He saw how enthusiastic I was, and said ‘There are only two reasons why you are like this. It is either you have been really hurt or just decided to be a rebel because you think it is cool, and I pray by 32 you would not be single’. The conventional belief is, only men-haters and probably people with a traumatic past stand up for their fellow women. WRONG!!! I just couldn’t get past this way of thinking. Then I remembered that where I come from, most women were taught to shrink and not question or challenge certain things.
This issue also surfaces in the way we treat ourselves. We gossip, envy, hate, disrespect and even cyber bully one another. I see it here too.. the endless criticisms and the quest for perfection from celebrities. This saddens me because perfection is a non-existent ideal, and to demand such from a fellow human being is rather unfair. I also noticed that most Nigerians find it hard to be genuinely happy and support their own, yet they would swear loyalty for anything foreign. Although, this aspect is gradually improving but I still feel like we have lost the most important things that a country needs to thrive. What happened to love and empathy? What happened to fairness? What happened protecting the vulnerable amongst us? What happened to Justice? What happened to our spirit of togetherness? Yes, the government has failed us completely but we need to stop playing the victim and take responsibilities for the little things we can change.
It is how you treat your driver; how you treat your maid; how you treat your neighbors; how you treat strangers; how you treat those who can do nothing for you. It is about respect; it is about not being judgmental and condescending; it is about reaching out to those who need it most; it is about giving people chances; it is speaking up for what is wrong. It is about being sensitive; it is about challenging myths, popular beliefs and stereotypes; it is about being open-minded.
It is all about making CHANGES, and it begins with YOU and I. The society is made up of individuals like you and I and whatever a single person does, has ripple effects. I believe that a positive change in the ‘Nigerian mind-set’ has tremendous power to change our situation for good.
Photo Credit: laprogressive.com
Oluwabusola Adedire is a graduate of Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, an enthusiast on social issues, and loves to inspire people about life, God and Love. Find her on Instagram @hrh_oluwabusola and on Twitter @HRH_oluwabussie