Thursday, October 11, 2012

How And Why?

by Jonas Dogara
Some time ago I get small discussion with some friends wey just come back from Europe where dem go school. As those kind tori dem dey go, everybody dey yarn about wetin him see/do. Some of dem see elephants wey dey fly, dogs with six legs, giant millipedes wey dey talk, woman with three breasts…. Hmmm, make we no go there.

Seriously sha, plenty interesting things come out of the tori, but the one wey touch me pass na one experience wey all of dem share, even though dem go different schools for different countries. That na say for their classes, they oyibo people no dey fear to get up and disagree with their professors or ask dem strong question. And as the oyibo dem dey challenge their lecturers like this, the Naija people mind dey cut!

If you dey wonder why the Naija people mind dey cut, then you no go school for Naija. Because anybody wey go school for Naija know say to stand up for public and disagree with your lecturer fit mean say you go leave school with a ‘Degree Attempted’ certificate o! Or maybe strong carry-over go gum you until you bring your papa and una village chief to come beg.

Wetin this group of I-done-go-abroad Naija people discover be say, heaven no fall down and nobody die because people disagree with or challenge the ideas of their professors. Actually, the professors dey welcome those kinds of disagreements because e mean say the students dey pay enough attention to wetin dem dey talk, to the point where dem feel say dem get opinion. So the lecturers go explain until the students understand, and na there e dey end. Nobody dey fail; nobody dey bring him ambassador to come see the lecturer.

Na my belief say, na because we been get human beings wey always dey ask question, challenge the way things dey and disagree with society and authorities, na him make man done make progress from an animal no know much about him envirionment to one wey fit fly to other planets. This culture of asking question, disagreeing and challenging na wetin the oyibo society dey encourage and na wetin dey cause change be that. Their educational system dey based on this, from the lowest level to when people wan get doctorate degree. But e no only dey restricted to education o. For social and religious issues, oyibo no dey fail to ask question, disagree with wetin people believe or challenge ideas. Plenty examples dey to show how people dey affect the world with their questions and challenges. Galileo Galilei make plenty observations about the earth and other planets, including say the earth no dey flat, as the Church (we be the authority at that time) believe. In fact, dem find am ‘almost guilty’ and lock the guy up for house arrest for the rest of him life o. But that idea live even after the man die and we know today say the guy talk true. For our own dormot here, Mary Slessor, come challenge the idea say twins na bad thing and eventually we stop to kill twins. Some of us wey dey read this thing no go dey alive if not for Mary Slessor work.

For Naija, to disagree with your lecturer, oga for office, papa, mama, pastor or imam or any other person wey ‘senior’ you or dey in a position of authority over you, fit land you inside hot pepper soup. Dem bring us up for a culture wey say people wey get authority over you or wey dey elder to you always dey correct. In fact, dem no dey lie! So anytime you disagree with somebody like that, e be like say you done talk say him dey lie or you wan show am say you sabi too much, and the person go use all the power wey him get to press your mouth close.

But na inside this our culture na him some of the problems wey we get for our country dey. Most of us done grow up not to ask question, not to disagree and not to challenge. Our whole ‘home training’ dey designed to keep us like this. I done hear of people wey their papa dey mess anyhow e like for house. And e tell dem say for him to mess na good thing. No be good thing for any of the children or the wife o. Na just for him! So anytime the guy release him gases for house, everybody go say ‘thank you, daddy’. And even though dem done grow up now, nobody done manage question their papa or discuss am. That na how the matter dey. We go laugh say this small example no dey important, but na exactly with small things like this we dey take know the big ones. As my people dey always talk, na from mess smell you go know shit smell. If we no dey challenge or ask questions about small things for our houses, how we wan take come out come tackle the big issues for society?

For our country e get so many things wey need questions, challenge and new ideas. Some of dem na small things wey we feel say no dey important, and some na big issues. But again, if you no look the small things, how you go take look the big ones? For most state-owned primary and secondary schools (at least for Rivers State), girls must keep their hair low until dem reach SS3. And even for SS3 dem need to follow certain rules on which kind hair dem go fit make. Now hair no be one of the problems wey dey worry us o. But the question I wan ask na ‘why?’ How the low cut or lack of low cut dey affect their education? I know say some of our neighbouring countries no get these kind rules, and I no sure say e done affect the education of their girls. Another one na about Law students for our universities. For my alma mater, the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, the law students always get to dress formally go class. Restriction dey on the kind colour  wey you fit wear o. If you wear green trouser and yellow shirt and purple tie dey go class, anything you see, make you take am! I know say e dey happen for many other universities too. How the dress code dey affect the quality of lawyers wey we dey produce for our country, I no know. Wetin I know be say this pattern no dey happen for many other countries, including the developed ones, and e no be like say their lawyers dey bad.

Make you understand say I no dey argue for or against the rules for these two examples wey I just give o. I only dey ask why. And I deliberately no mention any very serious wahala dem. I wan let you think about dem for yourself.

For most rules or conventions wey we get, reason always dey why dem put am in the first place. But as society dey grow and change, we suppose dey review these rules and conventions everytime. Three important questions dey wey we suppose ask:

(a)    Why dem make this rule?
(b)   The reason make sense then and e still make sense now with everything wey we know?
(c)    Make we leave am, change am or throway am?

I no go belleful if I no mention our religious nature. Religion na big part of our lives for Naija and our Men/Women of God (both Christian and Muslim) na very big influence on how we dey live and the things wey we dey do. I no be Muslim and I no really know how that side dey work, but as a Christian, I know say for a lot of Christians their ‘Daddies and Mummies in the Lord’ na almost God. Dem no dey lie, dem no dey make mistake and if dem talk, na God done talk so. I also know say these days everybody get access to the Bible and Koran and Hadith. That one mean say we all fit read these books for ourselves and we fit engage our Men/Women of God for discussion about all things religious.

Afterall, no matter how holy these people dey, na still human beings dem be, with the same tendency to use their own sense of wetin of morality as wetin God talk. We need to separate wetin God talk with wetin some people feel say Him suppose talk. I no talk say make we fight out religious leaders o, but I say e go good if we ask dem more questions and demand more explanations. God no go vex.

My belief na say e done reach time wey we go throway the culture of not asking questions or challenging. Now na the time to begin dey ask the important questions ‘why’ and ‘how’. If dem dey do something wey you no understand, wey you no like or wey no make sense to you, ask questions. If you get a better idea, talk am and try to change the system. If you no understand how something dey work, ask how e dey work. Maybe you fit get a better way for that thing to work and our country to dey better because of you. ‘Na so we dey always do am’ no be correct answer!

As with everything for life, we need to dey careful and try our best to ‘exercise restraint’ when we dey question or challenge, so that we no go insult or offend people. Because, when people done dey vex, sometimes even when you dey talk true, dem no dey listen.

As for you wey somebody go ask question, challenge or disagree with, abeg no vex. If you no get proper answer/explanation apart from to vex, then maybe the person wey dey yarn with you get point. Maybe the time to listen well and change done reach.

The truth be say, the time to mistake mumu for respect done pass. Make we begin think, question, challenge and suggest new ideas.  That na one big step to that new Naija wey we all want.


This na @nfsqueezed on Twitter.


6 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. 'God no go vex' True talk jor!!....
      Make we rest from 'My Pastor say, Daddy G.O
      say...' e don reach time to dey ask questions.

      Delete
  2. My bro longtime. Good write wey u write for hia. But where get small k-leg be say u no take a strong stand on the issue wey u raise. Many naija writers dey always dey like that. For example you say; no be say you dey for or against the two issues wey u raise. Guy make u no send wetin ppl go talk if you take a strong stand. You're unique as a special being from God. For example the issue of girl to cut their hair na complete slavery. To me you for condemn mam and other issues wey u raise. Make our writerss learn how to be objective, sso long as u know ssay na d truth u dey talk, jsst like Galileo galili, wetin dd man talk abt the earth still stand even after them put am for prison.keep it up bro

    ReplyDelete
  3. Correct guy, e done tey, no be small. But I done come back.

    On the issue wey you raise about taking a strong position on issues, make I try clarify am small. The idea of this article no be to raise specific issues. I go need plenty articles to actually state my opinions on all the issues wey dey my mind. Maybe na wetin I go do in the coming weeks. The whole point of this article no be to let people know my opinion or to convince dem to accept my opinion o. Na to make dem begin think and begin ask questions. Those examples na toy examples to be honest. We get some very very heavy ones. But I want people to begin think about dem and begin ask questions.

    ReplyDelete