In his latest piece our writer Ebenezer lays blame for the lack of progress in Nigerian culture at the steps of ‘tradition’. Shackled by the formality of ‘tradition’ (ergo those in power) Ebenezer argues the opportunity for change will continue to be curtailed. After all change will undoubtedly threaten their rarefied position of absolute power and that will not be relinquished easily.
Nigerian culture can be traced and seen to be as old as humanity itself. Early man developed patterns that worked for them at the point to foster commerce, dominance and social discourse within their society. These methods will not be realistic to practice in the modern world.
The nature of man is set to exert and prove control. There’s the desire to be accepted, acknowledged and if possible reverenced as divine, a demi-god or probably a god. This has led to one of the cleverest tactics in history involving shaping culture to fit personal ego. Barbaric traditions were replaced with “civilised” or rather traditions that foster and celebrate individual peaks rather than communal milestones.
There’s this notion I have tuned into within the year and I still believe it to be mostly if not completely true; it is the notion that more civilised societies exhibit a higher degree of humility and equality. Qualities that uncivilised groups consider to be power are seen by civilised states as a form of weakness or a mental barrier fostering individual progress at the expense of communal growth.
Nigerians have a deep notion of respect and submission to elders, a notion which in itself is beautiful but like everything involving human association there’s bound to be imprints of human nature and ulterior desires. These imprints have shaped the original idea to one that inhibits growth and independent critical thinking.
What is expected from the younger generation in most cases is a form of blind respect but this has a negative effect on the youngsters. It creates an invisible barrier limiting the flow of original ideas, desires and challenges. This barrier to the minds’ of young Nigerians isn’t just a phenomenon common in Nigerian on the contrary I believe it cuts across most black societies. The end product is always the same: a decline in innovative ideas while the ‘old systems’ remain in ‘power’ and stagnate. It’s a putrid, status quo.
Societies where this is evident are always dotted by a strong and functional caste system, a system which as I noted earlier celebrates individual growth and subdues the collective growth. People in power scrape out parts of culture that doesn’t contribute to the caste system and leave behind every element that favours them. Ceremonies are geared to celebrate individual accomplishments, weddings and burial ceremonies become a show of class where the elites display glamour and pizzazz leaving the society with something to crave for and new ideals as they serve as pacesetters. At the end of the day we spend so much money and time on ventures that enforce respect and class but fail to answer major questions around will, aid, and actual development of the mind of society as a whole. The younger generation are expected to continue on this path and if not they are seen as ‘rebels’ intent on de-stabilising this imagined ‘harmony’.
Ideals like this have created a gap and an absence of originality between the older and younger generation. Various ideas that are meant to be mainstream are instead buried or practiced under the shades for the fear of criticism and being ostracised as a rebel of sorts.
Now the common argument states Western lifestyle has a negative impact on young Nigerians but then isn’t exposure and experience the things necessary for growth? Is there a point where stagnation is encouraged to avoid jeopardising the comfort of someone else?
Exposure indeed is power as it gives room for the rebirth of an individual. One examines ideals with a view of a greater picture and sees where those ideals actually fit into. Are the ideas you hold onto from birth actually as sacrosanct as you have been thought to believe? Is the world really tied around what you have come to define as human morality-what exactly is the benchmark for human morality? I think these questions wouldn’t come into a man steeped in tradition avoiding the perceived excesses and vulgarities of modernity because there is comfort in the ‘old ways’.
Many Nigerians have returned from the Western world fascinated by the simplicity displayed amongst powerful people in Western societies. How easily people integrate with little consideration of class and status.
The first step I believe to attract transparency and growth occurs when people understand that to lead is to serve. There should be a focus on communal growth and a drop in our egocentric approaches to solve problems. Good deeds always come from the most unlikely places. Until society fully understands that morality isn’t materially determined and quantified I remain free from the Nigerian flag.