Sunday, 25 February 2018

The Problem with Nigeria – Killing the father figure as the beginning of a countercultural revolution

« You were told by the Zarathustra of old, lo, I teach you the Superman: he is that lightning, he is that frenzy! but I say to you, lo, I teach you the Oedipus: he is that father killer, the ideal counterculture hero that you lack most. But hope not that he has come to marry his mum, for she is the next target on his list. »

The Father figureIn my last publication, I affirmed that « religion is the real problem of Nigeria ». And during a Facebook discussion on the topic, a friend, Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso, raised an issue that has preoccupied my mind for a very long time. He said,

« I do think that we have a lot to talk in the case about our upbringing, the father figure whom we deem to be absolutely infallible. I think we end up as grown-ups see this unchallenged father figure in whatever authority is above us, that they are always right. I think if we need radical critical minds, we should foremost change and challenge the toxic patriarch structure of Nigeria. »

This was, to me, like an epiphany. And like a revelation and an inspiration, all together, the observation appeared. And thus, I decided to continue to attack this system called Nigeria. Note that I have not changed my point of view on the toxic effects of religion as it is practised in Nigeria. On the contrary, my attack on the cult of the father figure is also an attack on the religion.

The father figure is not just a concept but a reality. It is generally said that young girls admire their fathers and boys, their mother but no one says that both are shaped, nay, are disfigured by him. But our preoccupation here is not just a psychological aspect of the child-father relationship. It is rather, its sociological aspect in the Nigerian context. It is primordial to explain that Nigeria is generally a patriarchal society where the whole family and community life rotate around the father or better said, around the male A lphas, to apply a controversial ethological term.

Time of changeThe problem of growing up in a society like ours, where the father figure is sacred, is that you would always end up either loving your dad so much or hating him so strongly that it affects your future, undoubtedly, in a significant way. If you over-idealise him, you will end up having issues with any paternal figure who does not act exactly like him. But if you detest him, you will hate with passion anyone in the position of authority.

The dominant father figure in Nigeria is the authoritative one. Those are the fathers who turn their family into a military barracks. They instil a very strong fear in their children that they grow up never contradicting any authority. The worst is that it is a social norm. The major problem might be because Nigerian men get married generally late and have developed a generational gap already by the time the child starts growing up. Our men are also too busy and to make up for their regular absence or less parental presence in the life of their children, create a ghost that rules the family, even in their absence. It is just enough for the mother to tell the child that he will be informing the father of his or her misconduct for the child to redress him or herself. This means that before a child comes to the age of reasoning, he or she must have developed a pathological fear of his dad which makes it impossible for the child to have an independence almost all his or her life.

Father figures, it is necessary to say, go beyond the biological setup. In average Nigerian social setup, a child is never allowed to contradict an adult, even when the adult is wrong. ‘Children do not speak in public,’ they will always remind them. Father figures are also so present in our institutions that teachers are always right and religious leaders infallible. To these forms of father figures, I will come back in the future.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Religion is the real problem of Nigeria

Even arch-atheists like Ludwig Feuerbach and Friedrich Nietzsche agree that religion has a converging and utilitarian role for the society. But Nigeria has, in many ways, tried to prove these anti-religious philosophers wrong. Let me say it right away that it is always necessary to be careful why quoting a master of doubt like Nietzsche when it comes to religious issues. In his ‘Beyond Good and Evil’, Nietzsche made a very important nuance that motivated my interest in examining the role religion in Nigeria. According to him, even though religion has this capacity of creating a bond in the society, it is, sometimes, also very toxic when there are no countercurrent ideas. Of course, my instinctive reaction to such affirmation, as many will do in reading this, was to frown at such a claim.
However, a close look at the history of most of the world religion gives him credit. Christianity, for example, would never have, likely left Jerusalem, if the early Christians were not opposed by the older religion – the Judaism. Islam would have, likely remained a small religion, practised by few people in Mecca. But these examples really neither answer the question of Nietzsche nor correspond to my position on this matter. In fact, looking at the situation of Nigeria, I am tempted to believe like Nietzsche that religion left on its own could be as dangerous as anything you could imagine. To use the cherished quotation of Karl Marx “Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes" religion is the opium of the people (masses). Before you accuse me of quoting Marx out of the context, I wish to reinstate that my take on religion here is about the Nigerian society. As a matter of fact, if Europe, which has been for ages a Christian continent, got where she is today, it was not because they knew how to pray better than the ancient Egyptians or the Chinese, the Japanese or the Indians. On the contrary, it was because they had strong and very intelligent people who were against waiting for any deity to tell the nation what to do and how to think to ameliorate the condition of their people.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Une coïncidence ? C'est à vous de juger

Dès mon plus jeune âge, j’aimais couper mes cheveux tout entier. Au petit séminaire par exemple, le coiffeur était un ami personnel. La coiffure était donc évidemment gratuite, mais quand il y a seulement deux étudiants pour couper les cheveux de plus de deux cents autres étudiants, le fil d’attente devient très important. Le pire c’est que j’étais vraiment obsédé par ma coiffure qu’il me fallait le faire chaque semaine. Un de mes enseignants était tellement tanné de voir mon crâne qu’il a voulu me l’interdire. J’ai donc dû demander la permission du recteur pour pouvoir continuer à avoir la coiffure sentimentale. Au fil des années, j’ai essayé d’autres styles qui m’ont fait oublier cette coupe de cheveux chérie de mon enfance.