Breaking Down the Walls of Ignorance

by Enitan Doherty-Mason

Many conversations I’ve had with some fellow Nigerian brothers and sisters have ended with, “Nigerians don’t do that.””It doesn’t happen in my village” or”That’s the way it should be.”From my observation, many such statements are based on very limited knowledge of our Nigerian selves and an even more limited understanding of human beings.From ideas about sexuality, to the role of women in society and the duty of a child to a parent, Nigerians have some deeply ingrained traditions and thoughts that continue to undermine the well-being of the society and the very people whom culture and tradition are intended to unite and to move forward.In-as-much as one believes that culture and tradition are not static, but are dynamic, fundamental thoughts of a people intended to preserve a way of life beneficial to most and to move a somewhat united society into the future, much of Nigerian regional and newly forming national thinking must be adjusted to make a healthy future possible for Nigerians everywhere.

Lack of awareness and rigidity of thought holds Nigeria in a state of ignorant suspension.A man near beats his wife to death because she refuses to do what he asks; this matter is handled as an open and shut case because she should have listened to her husband.The judges, the husband and the in-laws are in complete agreement – Only foolish women create these situations for themselves.In another instance, a father warns his college-educated daughter that if she disobeys her husband, he will give her husband permission to”spank” her!

One young woman quite boisterously declares that homosexuality only exists among foreigners and that any Nigerian who does such a thing copied it from those “foreigners”.When confronted with what happens between some young girls and between boys particularly in some Nigerian boarding schools, the same young woman asserts that the sexual contact between the girls is not the same as what happens in the United States because women are “soft” and cannot progress beyond fondling as in sex between a man and a woman. As for sexual contact between the boys, that is filthy because males are more muscular and their sexual organs are intended to penetrate an opening in the opposite sex.I do not write in support or against homosexuality, rather I wish for us as Nigerians to examine our own “logic” as we go about our daily business of living and relating to each other and other people of the world.

Several friends heatedly discussed the importance of a woman moving in with her husband after marriage because this is the way it should be.They assert that foreign men i.e. non-Nigerian, men have no sense of how things “should” be and are consequently irresponsible in marital matters.On the other hand, they argued that a woman should not have to share in the financial burden of keeping the family and home because that is a man’s job.Such unfounded and unrealistic ideas increase the burden on couples for whom reality does not place the male in a significantly higher income bracket than his wife.The concept of building a relationship based on cooperation and a joint vision seems to have died a violent death.It seems that more women are being encouraged to seek the knight in hard currency armor.

Along the same lines, some men, being aware of such expectations from their mates and seeking to show their prowess as “true Nigerian men”, respond by seeking their fortunes by any means possible, including defrauding family, friends, foreigner, foe and other women with intense virility in order to support the momentary lust or love of their lives.Where will the madness end? Or is madness the order of the day?

What is Nigerian culture? Who will define the way things are done in Nigeria.We must keep in mind that there is no one way that Nigerians do things.We are human beings first. It is to this calling as human beings that we must all first respond.It is our duty to our fellow human beings and to ourselves to reach beyond individual and national egos so that we can seek truth and treat each other with dignity, respect and understanding befitting of fellow human beings.

You may also like


Ade Faleti July 19, 2006 - 11:58 am

I'll like to contact Ms. Enitan Doherty-Mason about an education initiative in maryland, the phone number on the eduwatch website "1-301-417-1496" is bad.



Anonymous May 1, 2006 - 2:16 pm

Once again I am more than thrilled reading one of your many informative articles about the level of ignorance that persists among we Nigerians.

We Nigerians want to believe that we are very different from other groups of people and time has proven that this is certainly not the case. We want to believe that sexual abuse doesn't occur in our communities. We will rather label it as a "Western problem" whereas this occurs in Nigeria today. The big difference between America (the western world) and Nigeria (a third world country) is that they openly address all these issues unlike Nigeria and other african countries where they hide under "Tradition" and "Religion".

It really saddens me when I talk to so called Educated Nigerians (I have come across a lot of educated fools) about the same issues you mention in your article and they just brush if off with comments like "These things don't occur in Nigeria". One will think that after living in a very open minded and liberal society like America people can reason intelligently. It seems some of us are still deep rooted in our ignorance.

Please keep up with your very brilliant articles.

You always do a good job!!!!


Leave a Comment