I have heard differing opinions on this. Nigeria’s greatest problem, some say, is greed. Others say poverty, corruption, lack of leadership, illiteracy. In this case, the one I had never heard was passiveness. Resignation. Complacency.
That is, we are accustomed to resigning ourselves to fate and “hope for the best”. We are not typically a people of action – and I do not mean the action you take when someone hits your car from behind, or the action taken when you have your phone / property stolen. I mean the passiveness, the resignation, shown when we witness episodes of corruption and incompetence at the highest levels of Government and we say “it will be well”. We are all relatively guilty of this.
I lost a relative in the 2012 Dana plane crash and in the conversations to follow, I was yet again reminded of our greatest hindrance – our complacency. I was reminded of the 60 lives lost in the Sosoliso Flight 1145 (Loyola Jesuit) back in 2005. To put this into context, the Sandy Hook school shootings in the U.S. claimed 27 casualties, just over a third of the case in question. Observing the aftermath of both tragedies, the contrasts could not be clearer. The U.S. saw an uproar regarding gun possession laws and while one does not realistically expect a repealing of the second amendment, you do expect a significant change – whether in restrictions on assault weapons or high-capacity magazine firearms.
However, following these two significant Air disasters in Nigeria, all I heard people say was “we thank God you were not on it”, “it is such a shame”, “it will be well”, “God knows best”.
My apologies, but this was avoidable. This was no freak accident. It was man-made.
What Nigeria needs is someone willing, ready, to die for the country
…a statement someone made earlier today.
I’ll track back to how this came up and hopefully bring it full circle. The conversation had begun a few minutes earlier, on several issues including – amongst others – our widely covered economic surge. It was going rather well until I heard a comment which made me pause.
We had been discussing Nigeria in its entirety and I reiterated how, as residents of Lagos state (the economic capital), our view of the country’s development is skewed by what we see. In other words, at times, we are rather oblivious to how underdeveloped we are as a nation because of what we are – or have become – accustomed to. She countered by illustrating how this is the reality of the Nigeria we know (hence, can not be discounted) and likewise, others’ experiences form their reality of precisely where the country is.
It is fair to say that direct experiences do not render one oblivious to the blaring truth, or hinder one’s ability to remain objective. With this in mind, I cited a few of the many issues we seldom think or talk about.
Travel across the country and you will be amazed at the extreme levels of poverty, neglect, illiteracy, and generally how backward some parts remain. Of the numerous conversations witnessed about how rapid Nigeria is progressing, no one mentions states like Taraba, Gombe, Kebbi (only examples), and what the state of development is like in these parts. They seldom get any coverage in wider conversations and in some cases, lives have not changed much over the last 20 years.
So I assume when we say Nigeria is doing better, we mean Lagos and a few usual suspects. But even in Lagos, are we really doing that much better? Herein lies the question.
The 2013 woman is independent, intelligent, and ambitious. She is articulate and holds intellectually stimulating conversations. He is inspired by her goals – personally and professionally. This is the woman that attracts him; the woman he desires. The 2013 man has a vision of his ideal woman, and she is all of the above. It is therefore ironic that when he finds her, she poses a threat.
Gender inequality remains a touchy subject; an abstract but touchy one. As abstract as something seemingly undefinable – or at least difficult to define – but when experienced, it is instantly recognisable. In some parts of the world, men and women are regarded as unequal in every way, with prescribed gender roles defining the core of their existence and respective interests, goals, and purpose. Upon second thought, it may not be as abstract as one thinks.
Along with those who genuinely believe in equality, it constantly puzzles how this remains the case in 2013. I assume it is not hard to fathom when you consider the other forms of discrimination society harbours.
As a continent in its infancy, still in the process of deciding the culture and identity we want to export to the world, it remains imperative that we not only project a strong, independent, ambitious, and beautiful African woman, but we begin by believing it ourselves.
His spirit met life and conversed with my soul
In ways one likens to being made whole
Focused on his words as here I stand
As I recall the exchange with the old man:
Last month, former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, was a guest on the Daily Politics show.
Speaking with the host, Andrew Neil, Annan gave his views on some of the ongoing wars across Africa and the Middle East, the hostage situation in Algeria, the Islamist threat in Mali, and the West’s intervention in some of these crises.
Also in attendance, and contributing, were Michael Portillo and Alastair Campbell.
Look out for a short but excellent summary of challenges facing the international community by Portillo.