Today, I took a road trip from Lagos to Ilorin.
Just as we got into Ibadan, Oyo state, there was a big truck in front of us chugging out black smoke so thick it was impossible to see through it.
Watching this lorry, I became filled with an intense anger at the fact that we as a people, as Nigerians are so freaking comfortable in our ignorance, we enjoy not knowing and when we do know, we enjoy not caring.
Just ask the average Nigerian about the depletion of the ozone layer and you would probably get a response like “its in the hands of God”; but didn’t God give us brains to think? Didn’t He give us free will? The ability to make decisions?
A few days ago, a friend posted a tweet about children in some parts of the world who are starving and someone responded to the tweet with “who cares?”, that response angered me to my very soul and I told a friend that if it was someone I knew, I would gladly point out his ignorance in the worst possible way I could manage, the friend who’s tweet he responded to though, who definitely has abundantly more patience than me, simply went on to explain why we should all care but to my utmost chagrin, this person responded again saying it wasn’t him that took their food away and they weren’t related to him so he couldn’t care. I absolutely couldn’t believe anyone could be like that. Now that I think about it though, maybe he has his reasons.
A few weeks ago, my dad was having a conversation with someone about the vast differences in attitudes of doctors in America and UK specifically and Nigeria; where an American or European doctor would explain to a patient what a drug does, side effects and all, explain the steps of a surgery and chances of survival, a Nigerian doctor would simply tell you “its in the hands of God” and could even get angry if you ask “too many questions”, quickly telling you to go and find another doctor. Most doctors do not even answer the simple questions patients have about reading a prescription, they simply tell you to go and give it to the pharmacist.
I believe in God and I know all things are in His hands but this is your job, I came to you because I needed services and I should be confident in your ability to do the job, or else I could just stay at home and pray.
At this point, I think it would be expedient to mention that my dad is a medical doctor, so this isn’t an attempt to knock anyone or their parents.
And I do realise there is an exception to every rule but generally, as a people, we have a very laid-back, not caring too much attitude, our response to any and everything is how God will handle it, forgetting that God gave us brains for a reason. I am equally guilty of this though, as it has become a national tradition.
But on the other hand, maybe its like my friend, Tomiwa says; we can’t expect citizens to care much about a country that gives nothing back to them, he once told me that citizens of a country basically go through 3 steps;
1. Survival – this is an individual’s first singular struggle of interest, and until he gets a good job and can comfortably take care of himself and his family, he will not be concerned with anything else, much less identifying with a country that is not doing anything to help achieve his survival.
2. Identity – this comes when an individual gets to a place of comfort where he can now look outside of himself and identify with his country.
3. Contribution – and then the individual gets to the point where he starts to want to give back to his country that cares for him.
I think at this point, we may be able to accept responsibility for certain things, instead of acting like everything’s out of our hands. Just maybe that’s the root cause…
©Adeola Matemilola 2012
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