Augustine C. OhanweFriday, February 1, 2008
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do wholeheartedly concur with the International Agency that pronounced Nigerians as the happiest people on earth. Their research took them many years of assiduous work to attain that conclusion. Their verdict has philosophical and spiritual underpinnings and not just material consideration. Unfortunately our website good friend, Temple C. Ubochi, in his piece, "Are Nigerians really the happiest people on earth?" sees it differently and pitched a divergent view.


"He opened his piece with, "What has happiness to do with suffering?" The answer is simple. It is such difficult situations that test our strength and produce the happiness in us. It is when soldiers outflank their enemies and defeat them that they could rate themselves as strong force to be reckoned with. It is therefore the battlefield that tests. Without the night we would not have appreciated the bright day with its sunshine. It is therefore the "suffering Nigerians" who kept and still keep their heads above the sea of penury that may have inspired the International Agency to come to their conclusion that Nigerians are the happiest people on earth.

Ubochi expects Nigerians to be walking around with woebegone faces in the face of unimaginable economic hardship and other social injustices. Nigerians, by their genetic disposition and culture are well aware that wearing rueful faces will compond their situation. They know that sadness does not only generate weakness, it also brings illness.and age and even suicide. It is therefore in happiness that Nigerian find strength and health.

I know a country whose religious culture admonishes its citizens not to exhibit any sign of emotion of happiness. They are advised to wear sad faces as a prelude to attaining eternal happiness in whatever they conceive as their heaven. Members of this church have lots of so called intelligent personalities holding high positions in government functionaries but they follow their religious creed sheepishly without questiong. It never dawned on them that happiness heals. Psychiatrists in this country have enormous workloads with its citizens. psychological consuling is also a lucrative trade.

While I agree with Mr Ubochi that the Nigerian government should do all in its power to ameliorate the plight of the poor in the country, I disagree with his linking material things with happiness. Happiness is not an object. It is an abstract talent you can not steal from its possessor. A teacher once said, "I am sometimes inclined to think that happy people are secretly wise, even when they seem to be stupid. For what is stupider and what makes one more unhappy than intelligence." Many intelligent people do not know how to refurbish hell and make it a home. Nigerians do. The former often jump out from the windows of their sixth floor when adversities knock at their doors.

Suicide is caused mainly by frustration, depression, unhealthy competition, setting unattainable goals, illnesses, genetic factors etc. Nigerians that have been brought to the treshold of the above mentioned factors have not embarked upon the road to end it all. Nigerians have flesh, blood, bone, etc. They feel pain and sorrow but the happiness inside Nigerians do not permit sadness to weave its nest around their heads. Sadness is therefore not a panacea for Nigeria's predicament. The difference here is clear.

I have visited slums of Lagos and other places in the country watching poor youth playing on muddy fields without football boot. I have seen poor Nigerian polygamous families leaving in abject conditions. I have observed mobile nail cutters walking along the streets in Nigeria clicking their scissors. I have equally read the faces of roadside vendors. In all these classess of people I have met I observed how every countenance was lit with glowing happiness regardless of the fact that they lacked material needs. They will definitely like to have some basic material things should such things come their way but they do not dwell on worry or sadness just because they don't have them. What keeps Nigerians moving in spite of hardship is hope and sharing.

Happiness is the highest good. This is an inspiring philosophy. The happiness I am discussing about has no connection with the possession of mercedes benz or other things science and technology have produced. It has to do with the possession of the golden key to one's heart. Nigerians, regardless of their ethnic origins or creed have happiness as a common.possession.

You can take away everything that belongs to a Nigeria except his happiness.