When frustration is normal
I’m not quite sure what the final straw was or the exact moment I realised I’d had enough… I suspect it really wasn’t any one thing in particular but rather the accumulation of everything that seems to represent all that’s wrong with this beautifully frustrating country we love to hate… Living and working in Nigeria requires a certain degree of mental fortitude… I’m not sure there exists on the face of the earth another group of people who have normalised intolerable frustration quite like Nigerians have. Blessed with ingenuity, spiritual aptitude, resilience and a sense of humour that is second to none… We find a way to cope with circumstances that would have lesser mortals committed in a heartbeat. Just when you think the proverbial camel’s back is about to break with the latest not-so-proverbial log of affliction, you look around and see everyone re adjust their position and continue coping (or at least pretend to)… Often in a way that makes you think you might be the only one carrying the new log! Oh we complain… but we get on with it… We grumble… but we keep on going… Occasionally we even protest… but never for long… Somehow we just keep moving from one day to the other in the midst of all the hardship… In the words of one prophetic musician…”Suffering and smiling” Our greatest “talent” as a nation seems to be our inhuman ability to normalise the abnormal… but is this really a blessing or actually a curse?
When enough becomes too much
In a society that postures to know better, we are staggeringly inept at providing even the most basic services, readily available in most other countries on the planet… Services that should be carried out without a second thought. We also lack much of the human tact necessary to deal with the disappointment when said services fail. Such is the degree of abnormal normalisation, that even reports of the most heinous acts of cruelty around the nation scarcely raise an eyebrow between selfies on Social Media. We have become a nation of selfish souls… each looking to his or her own as we struggle to survive in a hostile environment. Almost everything we do reflects a general apathy towards anything that is not directly connected to our benefit… and it shows… in the way we speak… the way we relate with each other… the way we drive… and even the way we pray… The conditions in our country seem to compel us to perpetually live in survival mode… with the majority scarcely venturing beyond levels 2 and 3 of Maslow’s triangle. Can we continue to live like this indefinitely… can we keep absorbing disappointment… aborted dreams…and dashed hopes… or is there a tipping point when enough becomes too much?
When the smartest people aren’t really that smart
There are some things in our recent history that boggle the parameters of reason… Like how 60 years on from the Oloibiri oil discovery, we still don’t have the capacity to produce enough petrol (or much else) to fuel the country… The inevitable fall in oil prices, everyone saw coming, still caught us by surprise… We have missed virtually every opportunity to be part of the global food revolution even though almost 60% of our land is arable… For all the natural resources with have, we export precious little (emphasis on little not precious)… We neither have a thriving national carrier nor a world-class international airport even though we are probably the best positioned country in Africa to serve as an international hub… We do not have a fully developed thriving tourism industry, even though our talent is arguably peerless in Africa, our landmarks are stunning and our waterways… ok let’s leave our waterways out of it…
Selective amnesia means we tend to point fingers and blame any outgoing administration for current woes… Where we are as a Nation and where we are not as a people however, seems more like the result of half a century of poor choices, than a couple of terms of unfettered greed. We have clearly suffered from poor leadership over the years… Yet when I speak with friends or colleagues and listen to expert analysis by some insanely smart Nigerians my mind struggles, not with the technicalities of varied postulations but the rather mundane puzzle; If we have so many intelligent Nigerians and so much insight into the different facets of our plight, how are we still here and consistently being led by the same kind of leaders?
When a Nation wears a blindfold
As a nation, our individual brilliance is often obscured by our apparent collective stupidity. There comes a point where we have to stop looking at the leaders and start looking at the people (you and I) who by action or inaction allow them to lead. If indeed we know better why do we not do better. I do not presume to understand all the workings of our political system… much less the dynamic of our diverse tribal interests and how they impact on regional politics, but if ours is a system that consistently selects the mediocre and the worst of us to lead, is there ever going to be a time when the “best” of us will say enough? Are we hostages in our own country or simply willfully blind… Do we wait in hope that one day a good politician will arise from the cesspool of our iniquitous political system and make things right… ignoring the obvious reality that it is virtually impossible for any good politician to enter the decrepit system and remain chaste. If we really want to see change… we must start by removing the blindfolds that limit vision and obscure reality and awake form the stupor of partisan politics. We must learn to see what we as individuals can do to ensure that we as a collective are better. We must keep our leaders accountable by making it difficult to hide the truth… As corny and clichéd as it sounds; each of us must make the effort to become a better person… a better Nigerian. It will not be easy and it will not be quick… but hey… we’ve been this way for over half a century don’t you think it’s time to make some changes? One thing is almost certain… if we remain a Blindfold Nation, we and our children are likely to be dancing to the same sad tune after the next half century…