A Wrong Thinking Model…And Woe Betide A People
This article was published initially with the name of someone else as the writer. It is now being re-published with the correct name of the writer. We apologise for this mistake.
It was quite interesting a few days ago reading Michael Ale’s congratulatory message to Mr. Trump and his pledge of 10 free boreholes in each of the 36 states of the country (terms and conditions applied) in the Punch newspaper. Hurray! I found succour. I am one of those who are happy that Mr. Trump won for I chose to dwell on the positive things his ascendancy to the throne might mean for my beloved country Nigeria. Apart from the good tidings to Donald, Michael also highlighted some of his views which I found similar to mine. Before then, one was frustrated listening to comments like, “Donald Trump cannot win.”, “Bros leave that tin, America is a home for all so even if other countries pursue nationalistic agenda, they (America) must remain different.”; “Blacks and Latinos are the ones holding America’s economy and if they leave, that country will collapse.”; “This election has shown clearly that the Americans are racists.” etc.; from my fellow countrymen home and abroad (I emphasise those from my fellow countrymen and not those from citizens of Europe and America for reasons that you shall see later).
Other comments revealed folly if the aforementioned were to be termed irresponsible and such included the threat to tear one’s green card if Mr. Trump won the election. I mused at such an idea because it reminded me of my little son who used to throw away his toys when angry. More than two and a half decades ago, as a little school boy, I stepped onto the podium in the assembly hall of my school to provide answer to a quiz which was thrown to the audience. It was about the first black African to win the Nobel prize. I got the answer correct. I still remember being applauded and how later, growing up, I idolised the subject. What suddenly went wrong? I am still struggling to get the answer to this puzzle because my thoughts have always been that thoughtful citizens of African countries (ours is a pitiable clime), especially celebrities must take a stance of blunt refusal to have their names tagged on the mockery called green card rather than flaunt them with pride even if such action were only to serve the purpose of driving home the message to their fellow countrymen to live, own and be responsible to their fatherland.
For me there is no such thing as half citizen here and a half there to make a complete citizen of a man. Agreeing to the reverse is what I classify as ‘The wrong model of thinking’- partly to blame for Nigeria nay Africa’s woes. This wrong model requires a paradigm shift and the time is now. We prefer to destroy our nation and then wish to go live in climes where the owners painstakingly planned and worked hard to keep intact and then adjudge them racists if they chastise us to go back and fix our own. Maybe I am wrong and perhaps need to recheck the scriptures again, but my understanding of Christ’s parable of the 10 virgins is that the five wise did not give any oil to the five foolish. What about, “It is not meet to give the children’s bread to the dogs”?
One of the brightest minds and a visionary leader of the 20th century once pondered how Africa would develop if her brightest minds bolted to far away safe havens at the slightest sign of trouble in their motherland. To be more specific, that visionary leader is Lee Kuan Yew and the object of his anger was Abraham, President Nkrumah’s protege and pride and a former vice chancellor of the University of Ghana who finished first in Classics at Oxford. The story was that Abraham fled to a monastery in California during the years of Ghana’s turmoil. Abraham and others like him adopted a wrong model of thinking. Before the elections, I mused quietly and sometimes countered passionately as I listened to Nigerians exert great amount of energy criticising Mr. Trump over his comments that he will, if elected president, repatriate Nigerians. My contention was that these people chose to dwell on the aspects of Trump’s statement that put responsibility on Trump but overlooked the aspects that put responsibility on themselves, after all, in that same rhetoric of Trump’s, he had mentioned that Nigerian leaders are corrupt and their followers don’t hold them accountable. So, clearly these people chose a wrong model of thinking.
I remember humouring one of my bosses during a discussion that we had on the subject of Africa’s poor development. In a bid to blame the whites for Africa’s woes, he took pride in referencing every chapter in Walter Rodney’s classic book save the concluding part. Quietly, I pointed out, “Sir, did you read Rodney’s concluding remarks?” For in his wisdom, Rodney made clear in those remarks that having set the record straight, the responsibility of developing Africa rested on the shoulders of Africans. Did Kishore Mahbubani, that Singaporean born erudite professor of history and philosophy, not warn that the congregation to my boss’s homily lost their ears in the 70s and by implication rendered the sermon pamphlet obsolete in the decades thereafter? The problem is that the laity which draws from stocks such as my boss fails to understand that there was an end of history. That lesson, which Mahbubani had given, in the first of his Ten Commandments For Developing Countries In The Nineties, says thus, “Thou shalt blame only thyself for thine failures in development. Blaming imperialism, colonialism and neo-imperialism is a convenient excuse to avoid self-examination.” Read on and you will see his second and it is like unto the first.
To tease my boss further, I caused a deviation from Rodney to Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo’s piece on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) where the learned professor advised the negotiators on the side of African countries against signing to the provisions in that document. There the professor noted clearly that Africa was to take responsibility for her actions lest after taking a wrong path would turn to blame the west and then write, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa 2. In that same piece, Soludo pointed out rather wisely that when country A interacts with country B, it is not because both countries love each other but because each country has its interest and not that of the other to serve, thus the onus is on either country to take responsibility for self. Now you see my boss adopted the wrong model of thinking whereas the three academicians adopted the right one.
It was unfortunate for me in 2008 to be present at a forum where solutions were to be proffered to the problem of Nigeria’s backwardness. The occasion was fellowship conferment in one of the branches of the Chartered Institute of Administrators. The folly was that one excited guy who obviously enjoyed the title ‘engineer’ that was constantly used to address him by his friends took the floor and his contribution was that Nigeria will never develop no matter what we do because the whites do not want us to develop. I listened to him with my mouth agape (I was lucky the photographers around were not mischievous). But the upside was that I had the opportunity to take the podium and I challenged him and any other person who shared his views to defend that claim with specifics. No one could! And of course, no one can.
The most valuable learning point that I took reading Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom was the latter’s sincerity to admit that he accepted wholeheartedly the superior argument of Reverend Scheffler that Africans must learn to look within themselves and take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming the whites always for their woes- the right model of thinking. To put the perspective right, let me mention that Reverend Scheffler was a white and the duo had that argument when Mandela was in prison. Save the humour of Ingabilungu for another day. I challenge anybody to give me proof that Mandela was not the most qualified African alive then who should have rejected that position of Reverend Scheffler.
The crux of the matter. When Nigerians demand that America be extremely accommodating and justify it with the lame excuse that they are the greatest nation on earth and that such is guaranteed in the American constitution, are we not indirectly giving away our powers to own and grow our country to this wrong model of thinking? If such persons were to pause for a rethink, would they not realise that the notion only exists in their minds? Do Nigerians really need to go to the USA? Are the tasks of job creation and building of infrastructures rocket science that are too tough for our governors? Now, here is Mahbubani’s second that I promised you: “Thou shalt acknowledge that corruption is the single most important cause for failures in development. Developed countries are not free from corruption, but with their affluence, they can afford to indulge in savings and loan scandals.”
The Roman senator Cato, the Elder (234-149BCE) was reputed for that habit of ending his long speeches at the senate with “Carthago delenda est” which translates “Carthage must be destroyed” to drive home the urgency to tackle the situation which faced them. Carthage was the enemy, the people of Rome the ones to destroy that enemy considering the bitter experiences of the Punic wars. I urge every progressive thinker who loves Nigeria to play Cato save this time the common enemy is not Hannibal’s country but the wrong model of thinking; and the slogan must be ‘The wrong model of thinking must be destroyed ceterum censeo’.
Isaac wrote in from Kaduna
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