It’s first October again and an incredible 61 years since Nigeria gained her independence from colonial rulers and the shackles of colonialism. While this remains a subjective reality, we are obliged to agree and be happy with the perceived freedom gained on this day in 1960. But the opposite holds strong and true. We see citizens with disgruntled faces and rent hearts pushing their lives around everywhere as if they were homeless. The look on their visage and the state of their hearts is a summation of the socio-economic vulnerabilities, structural frailties and macroeconomic fragilities existence in the country. One can easily narrate the obvious dissatisfactions and anger yet she expects her wards to pledge their allegiance to her and serve her with all their might -quite unfortunate.
Nigeria hasn’t lived up to anyone’s expectation amidst the enormous resources she is endowed with. Even, she is yet to breathe life and meaning into her citizens’ lofty dreams, rather she has constantly drained life out of them. She inspires not a single hope, rather she had taken away forcefully every glimpse of hope her citizens have tried to muster, cultivate and manage. Right from the old woman in the thickest-rural-area to the jolly fellow in the urban area, life has been unbalanced for them.
But beyond these lamentations and out pour of anger and pain against Nigeria and her leaders, I was touched to think and rationalize differently today. Let’s talk about the microcosmic Nigeria. The Nigeria of you and I as It relates to our individual independence and leadership. Yeah, before we talk about public victories, we must have won private wars and before we gain public trust, we must have shown and excised integrity in our personal commitments-that’s keeping promises made to oneself. So today many are questioning the independence of Nigeria from colonial powers, hunger and socio-economic problems. To some, it’s a mirage and false reality but this only begs our discourse today.
We definitely must look inward and ask ourselves some basic questions too, how independent and free are we from other people’s perceptions, opinions and distorted judgment over our lives , how artistic are we playing the role we created for our lives, What is the center of our lives and who influenced this? While you ponder on that, it is important we note that many of us are still living our lives according to the scripting of our parents, friends and fellow students. This is exactly what Stephen Covey calls the social mirror.
Essentially, the social mirror is the social paradigm, the opinions, perceptions and paradigms of the people around us. And this distorts our worldview. Hence, our view about ourselves and abilities becomes a reflection of what people think or say about us. So we go about the pursuit of modernization and Europeanization and discard every sense of Pan – Africanism because of what the so called developed economies would say. Thus, everything about ourselves –our food, products and culture we treat with a disdainful look and lens of inferiority. Is this not the height of personal dependence and inferiority complex?
Like Bedford Umez, African time is a selective punctuation of inferiority complex. We have created an African time that is inconsistent with principles yet we talk about it as though nothing is wrong it. Quite disheartening the level of inferiority complex in our lives as Nigerians. So while we go about criticizing the government today about their ineptitudes, we must look inward too and cure ourselves of every limiting inferiority complex and determinism.
As students particularly look we ourselves from the social mirror of
“You are not intelligent”
“You are good in calculus”
“You are always late to lectures”
“You eat like a mad man”
“I can’t believe you won the debate”
“This course is so simple, why can’t you understand.”
While these visions and judgments of our lecturers, parents and follow student are disjointed and out of proportion, we do fully subscribe to them and then begin to live a societal scripted life. What a misnomer!
So many of us have even come to many deterministic conclusions about our life, aspirations and potentials. I can’t make first class- it’s for highly serious students because we are not bright in my family, because we are business-minded and a whole lot of limiting reasons that are even reasonable to reason so to speak. And these non-positive confessions about our lives consequently inform how we live and respond to issues in the environment. We must essentially understand that we are a function of choice and not of any deterministic outcome caused by gene, psych or environment. Let’s briefly look are the three 3 social maps that are widely accepted to explain the nature of man:
Genetic determinism; This basically explains that one is a function of genetic make-up. So what you are and would be is traceable to your grandparents. That’s why you have such a temper, your grandparents had short tempers and it’s in your DNA. It just goes through generations and you have inherited it, in addition, you are Igbo and that’s the nature of Igbo people.
Psychic determinism; This basically says that your parents are responsible for whatever you are and will turn out to be . Your upbringing, your childhood experience essentially laid out your personal tendencies and your character structure. That’s why you are afraid to be in front of a group. It’s the way your parents brought you up. You feel terribly guilty if you make a mistake because you “remember” deep inside the emotional scripting when you were very vulnerable, tender and dependent. You “remember” emotional punishment, rejection and the comparison with somebody else when didn’t perform as well as expected.
Environmental determinism; This essentially says your environment is responsible –your friends or that bratty teenager or your economic situation or national policies or even village people. Someone or something in your environment is responsible for your situation.
Well, while all these have a way of nurturing and influencing our personal outcome .They only limit us to the degree we allow them. We are essentially the function of our choices- today’s decision and until we realize this and break free from the societal scripting we have been playing, we shall continue to be dependent and never attain our full potential.
We are independent only when we realize we are responsible for whatever that happens in our lives.