The African mind is one of the richest on this planet. It is so rich that bulrushes could grow on it like they were on the Nile bank. It is one of the brightest lights of our solar system but paradoxically it is covered by a cloak of stygian darkness (both mental and in the case of Nigeria, physical).
What is it about the average African mind that makes it as impenetrable to erudition as a diamond to the digging efforts of a toothpick? Why is it that we receive tons of certificates, enough degrees to make a thermometer self conscious, yet all the education doesn’t translate into literacy? What is it that makes the exposure of most of our leaders to the western world’s progressive way of doing things seem like pouring water on the backs of ducks?
Sometime in the past, I heard of a professor of obstetrics and gynecology who married a second wife because his first didn’t provide him with a male heir (amazing, considering the fact that he is an authority on the fact that man determines the sex of a baby by his donation of an X or Y chromosome). What about the PHD holder who throws away his learning to become a juju priest. Mindboggling examples but they are just a tip of the iceberg.
I graduated from a medical school where lecturers act like gods strutting around Olympus. They look down on you, insult you and even send their registrars on errands that a dignified house boy might not do. God help you if you don’t kow-tow to them because that might mean the end of your training or repeating a class. But the surprising thing is that most of these people graduated from schools abroad where things are done differently. Places where mutual respect and preservation of dignity are a culture.
This trait is not limited to the medical circle alone. It permeates every area of our lives. People who are privileged to be in lofty positions look down on others like they were scrapped faecal matter from the heels of a hobo. People treat their helps like a southern farm owner treated his slaves before the American civil war. When they go on their shopping trips abroad, they see doormen, bell hops all treated with respect but it does not positively affect their thinking patterns when they get back home. Subjugation, tyranny and domination remain the way of life. The victims on the other hand, swallow it as destiny while going about arse kissing and bootlicking to be in the good books of the oppressor while wishing for their own turn (thereby ensuring the continuous spinning of the vicious circle). This is the reason life term presidents are a norm in Africa even when they have made a hash of things and the people under them are going through great affliction. Unlike their European counterparts, power is seen as a birthright. They steal, kill, destroy (like the devil) in the bid to acquire leadership powers and never realize that leadership is about service even when they have gone through a Cambridge/Oxford/Harvard leadership course.
We all want to work for multinationals and NGO’S mainly because of the benefits attached to them but in our own businesses, we pay our workers peanuts that a self respecting monkey will snort at. The crazy thing is that the paltry sum comes with the kind of burden that Pharaoh laid on the Hebrew slaves. Work load that will make Atlas feel like he is having an ice cream party in a park. Absolutely amazing!
In his book, “From third world to first world”, Lee Kuan Yew said he couldn’t understand Africans because during a meeting of the worlds leaders, their lifestyle was the most profligate yet they were the ones asking for world aid. That is a paradox that can cripple a normal mind.
What makes Nigerians commit ritualistic killings for money? Why do we languish in poverty when we have been blessed with so much resource? Why are rich people sacred cows that are above the law because they have money?
Amongst black Americans, the incidence of drive by shootings, single parenthood, usage of hard drugs, unemployment is more than among whites.
On the Nigerian road you will find well dressed graduates reduced to fists and cuffs because of minor altercations.
We believe so much in witchcraft and demonic forces causing every kind of ill when we are the culprits. Like the Yoruba adage that says the insect eating the spinach leaves is on the spinach. The church which is supposed to be our last bastion of hope does not even help issues on this front.
It is a huge conundrum that makes me wonder whether the cause stems from Noah’s curse on his son Ham (who is said to be the originator of Africans). I think one of the main reasons is that the deprivation and lack that is so rampant in this country has scarred the landscape of ours minds so much, spawning greed and rapacity in the process.
To me, the hue and cry that all our problems were caused by the white man is all poppy cock and persecutory delusion. We traded human lives for trinkets and stuff. The surprising thing is that we are still doing that today. The reparation theme is all hogwash.
We trade the future of our children for accounts in Switzerland; we sell tomorrow for foreign currencies and drug money.
It is all so mystifying and for me like a puzzle presented by the Riddler to the Batman on which rides the survival of a whole race.
I am desperately looking for answers like a lost desert traveler looking for an oasis but I believe a major panacea to the diseased African mind is love.
That will be the story of another day but in the interim let’s ruminate on this and send in answers on how you think we can heal the African mind because it is truly a black thing and isn’t easily understood.