By Zadok Akintoye
In conversations over why Nigeria has not been able to become a successful nation, I have always tried to listen and to argue based on my understanding of Nature and why consequences are products of actions.
In Nature, offsprings are created from a parent stock, bearing the same traits, learning the culture of its parents and adapting to what is provided by the society or environment wherein it finds itself. Each successive generation adapts to the actions and tradition of its immediate parent stock.
In the colonial days of Nigerias’ inglorious history, our forefathers (and mothers too) were taught a lesson (not by the colonial masters but by their own willful conclusion on the benefit of adapting to being like the colonial masters) that slavery was better than independence. An average Yoruba family for example, depended on either farming or trading as a source of income and revenue. Indeed, many of our forefathers lived in their ancestral lands, working the same land for their living until it became seen that a “better” and more appealing way was available to the people through western education and employment. For them, with education, you would retire from the heavy labours of farming and live with a good salary like the white man.
Many of our own fathers who had acquired the western education were treated like conquerors and heroes and permitted to live above the moral culture and custom of their people. For instance, the culture of prostrating/kneeling to greet elders (which is a society protection mechanism to guard the moral direction of the younger generation and ensure a guaranty of respect of the younger generation to the older generation) was abolished with a common statement, “alakowe i dobale” (an educated person needs not prostrate), which thus imply that the culture of honor and respect for the elderly, for society and for the traditions were subservient to the acquisition of western education.
Our fathers and mothers were thus trained by their own parents to be western and colonial in outlook. The “monster” of black people working hard to distance themselves from who they truly are was born when the society misunderstood the purpose of education.
May I pause to say, that our fathers needed not to leave their farms because they had acquired western education. The purpose of education was not to be lazy and to seek to be better respected in society but to apply the acquired knowledge and information to what they already had mastery of; farming. They left the farms and took to the office. When I see my fellow country men jogging on the streets, trying to look like the images they see on TV, I shake my head and just wonder at how stupidity has become a tradition. I am yet to see a farmer who labors in his farm who also needs to take a time to run around the streets pretending to exercise himself.
Back to the matter at hand. Successive generations thereafter, did everything “needful” to ensure that they trained their children to not only acquire the education and culture of the white man but look and live like that stranger who brought his culture to their lands. Our parents therefore began to also lose their manners and distanced themselves from the culture of corporate responsibility towards your neighbor, to living asinine nuclear lives (like we also do now). Gradually, a new society of educated illiterates was born and remains till today.
The youthful generation we have now will not save this country except they are willing to acquire the required knowledge needed for them to create and maintain a good society. In a hotel somewhere around Akure here, I saw our “future” leaders all publicly embracing values and norms that are openly criminal and dangerous. The options before society would then be to eliminate or educate them. I prefer the latter, if they would listen.
Our young men and women don’t know beyond what they have been taught. They would need to go back and study past generations with the intention of finding out what went wrong. This generation owes itself the duty of moving far away from the monster created by their forbearers. A generation who takes their instruction from criminals and scam artists, whose heroes are politicians with money, who feed their minds with music that are lewd and crime-promoting, must realize that it is in danger of being massacred without a feeling of loss.
Today was birthed by the past and what we have become is a dangerous society, morally atrophied and gradually decaying. The monster is here with us and we need to tame it now else their would be no “us”.
Zadok Akintoye is the immediate past Director of Media & Publicity of Ondo PDP.