"Enslavement starts in the mind. When you refuse to think for yourself, others will think for you and use your intellect for their own benefit."
- Abi Adegboye
emi went to celebrate Tinu's new status as 'the owner of a generator.' No longer would she have to endure, like herself and millions of Nigerians, an interminable power outage. Soon, the two friends were chilling in an airconditioned room facilitated by the small unit, placed right outside the door to protect it from theft. Shortly before midnight, Kemi turned to Tinu, "I'm feeling very sick. I can barely lift my head." Looking closely at her friend, Tinu noticed Kemi looked seriously ill. She'd stretched out on the couch and her eyes were dilated. So, Tinu dialed a sister from church. "Anoint her with oil and pray over her," the sister advised. Tinu did so and went to bed herself. Both friends were found dead in the morning. They'd died of carbon monoxide poisoning produced by the generator. Because of its placement outside the room door, the exhaust fumes from the machine had no escape route to the outdoors.
What went wrong here?
One illiterate asked another illiterate what to do and that illiterate parroted their mutual standard doctrine - "pray."
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Headlines are replete with evidence of a lack of thinking from the individual to the government. For example, a medical doctor castigates his wife for not birthing male children, an educated man to reviles his wife for his impotence, a diabetic drinks freshly-squeezed orange juice, and a 24-year-old man schemes to sacrifice his parents for money magic. Other evidence include:
Refusal to come together to think: An association hosts seminar on how to move the country forward, only ten people attend. Of the ten, seven are sleeping, surfing the web, or talking to each other. When the same association hosts a gala, it is standing room only. People refuse to think and worse, to collaborate to resolve problems. Incidentally, a refusal to think does not prevent problems, one simply won't be prepared to handle them well. By the way, is there a Nigerian think tank?
Copycat Syndrome: Someone mentions adire sells so everyone starts selling adire. Because they refuse to think for themselves, people copy whoever appears to be doing slightly better than themselves. And because they've added no uniqueness or value to the craft, they glut the market and kill that trade. It is the same copycat syndrome that causes people to follow others to trudge across the desert to Libya.
Na So E Be or a Passive Acceptance of Deviance: We watched in complicity as the educational system in Nigeria was gutted. Now we make videos about people not knowing who a gynecologist is or saying esophagus is a disease. We're laughing about a crisis of monumental proportions. Contrast this attitude with the developed world where all basic education is online and there's WIFI and electricity to access the knowledge. Further, we all know the looters, yet we continue to allow them to flourish!
Combative Ignorance: defined as "a stubborn rejection of scientific, environmental, and common sensical concepts and advice in favor of one's own viewpoint." For example, a church planted in urban America which looks and operates like it is in the Nigerian setting of its roots - closing time is a suggestion, toilets are perennially clogged, children are routinely smacked around, and fights often break out after service. Nothing in its American environment has rubbed off on the church.
Hot Button to a Higher Power: Ten minutes into any discussion about the crises in Nigeria, and you'll hear the statement "only God can save Nigeria." The debate is lost. What's the point of discussing an issue nobody but God, can handle? Yet, those who are so quick to ask God to save Nigeria forget that he consistently gave his children instructions on how to "save" themselves and their land.
Zero Challenge to Rubbish Talk: In those days, when intellectuals like Tam David West and Bolaji Akinyemi returned to the university after taking government appointments, they were queried about the policies they enacted in government. Remember the "2/3rds of 19 is not 12" debates? Today, we have nothing like that; everyone is protecting their heads. Instead, complete idiots mount podiums across the land to spout nonsense all day long and no one dares challenge them. And this lack of challengers emboldens them and further stifles the truth.
Marginalization of the Intellectual: It is rumored that in village meetings in the East these days, a rich man trumps an educated one and can shut the mouth of the former by slapping money on the table. The Nigerian intellectual is so marginalized in society that when s/he comes out to impart critical knowledge; s/he is ignored, ridiculed, or vilified for daring to say what does not conform to current politics. They are reduced to intellectual prostitution whereby s/he parrots the powers that be, just to survive.
Why does thinking matter?
Zero thinking => Zero innovation => Zero development => Zero growth.
Zero thinking => Blind followership => Libya.
- Devote time to thinking. Work on your own intellectual development and stop peddling inane videos on social media. When you sit quietly to think, you'll come up with ideas that are uniquely yours and a means of generating income.
- Read every day - fiction, nonfiction, news, comics… Reading broadens your horizons. One area of required reading for all Nigerians is health education. Read articles that teach you how to sustain your health because no one else will do it.
- Get an education. Whether or not schools are open or teach what's relevant, educate yourself with everything you can lay your hands on.
- Foster intellectualism: Join an association that supports thinking for Africans by Africans. As you know, the philosophy of another will not save us.
- Think before you vote. Does your candidate of choice make common sense?
So, when your brother-in-law says he'll get you into Europe via Libya, what would you do? - Do you research the plausibility of his idea? Ask him to connect you with folks he has successfully migrated? Research the pitfalls of this scheme? Or go steal or sell something to come up with the money for your transport?