Nigeria, The West and the Girls; Response to a Friend’s Query

First thing you should know is that Nigeria is a multicultural, multilingual society. One that, if not for the colonialists, would not dream to be under one country. Some people, like Ojukwu, saw this but were dubbed traitors and unpatriotic and in some cases banned from their country for so many years.

The nationalities had their religions, cultures, language, commerce, etc before the arrival of the colonialists. Cultures that were roundly condemned as barbaric and maybe they were, but being barbaric was not peculiar to Africa, the whole world were at one point and in some cases some society still are, depending on your definition of barbaric.

Eventually the whole regions were invaded by missionaries. The Muslims were roundly successful in the North while Christianity held sway in the East and the West.

Now, that is just background information, to, perhaps, help you understand the makeup of the country that is made up of people who speak roughly 250 languages.

The North, being dominantly Muslim wants Sharia. So when your friend said Women are valued as property and keepers of the house, but not as equally contributing members of society. He was wrong. Stay at home parents are not necessarily noncontributing members of society, we have such women here in the US and some other western countries.

As a matter of fact, some people would argue that what is generally wrong with society today is because women chase career more than taking care of their families. It used to be in fashion until the economy messed up and men were unable to solely take care of their families. Whether or not women working is right is a matter of opinion. Mine is that each family should be able to decide what works best for their families and each society should determine its family values.

That statement would also be totally inaccurate to describe Eastern and Western Nigeria, where Christianity and Western education are generally acceptable. In the case of the West a larger number of people are also Muslims, but not the kind that would subscribe to Sharia Law in that region. I have cousins, nephews and nieces who are Muslims and attend western schools.

In the East, for example, boys are the ones who end up with brief education, in most cases. A substantial number of them still attend school. Most men go into trades as soon as they could add 2 plus 2 together. Boys are sent to learn trade with people who are already established while the girls went to school. So in the East men with little education but tons of money feel accomplished marrying girls who are holders of Masters Degree or PHD. I did my youth service in the East and remember how a friend of mine lamented lack of sufficient number of boys in the schools. That was like 20 years ago, things might have changed.

In the West, most boys and girls attend Western schools. Western education was so valued education was free. I am one of the beneficiaries of free education in Lagos. We were even given books free, we even had free lunch when I was in primary school.

So, because of the differences in world view, Nigeria is volatile and constantly in turmoil and because of oil the West always keeps an eye on it.

It’s always been a struggle historically to get the North to embrace Western Education, something they reject strongly. It is not uncommon in the North for a wealthy 60 something year old man to want a 12 year old as a bride. Now, this is not something that I witnessed, we read stuff like this in the papers just like the rest of the world, I have never lived in the North and have only gone as far as Kwara.

If that is true, no matter where such is being practiced in the world, in my own humble opinion, that is wrong. What would any man, regardless of age and location, want with a 12 year old girl.

Those are factual background, if you could call it that taking into consideration that the media is hardly ever reliable.

Now this is my problem with the whole episode.

I do not appreciate that my people, and I mean the whole of Africa, were not left alone to develop at their own pace, just like some parts of Europe and America did. Most of the practices that were dubbed barbaric were things the Europeans were doing but they eventually discovered were wrong and thereafter moved away from. Nobody forced them to move away from those practices. We should have been given the same benefit of the doubt and left alone to discover the anomalies in our practices, we should have been allowed to move at our own pace.

I do not appreciate that we were deprived of our cultures, literatures and languages. I do not appreciate that we were portrayed as ignorant and uncivilized when nothing could be further from the truth.

I do not appreciate the assumption or assertion that we were living like animals before the arrival of the Europeans; nothing could be further from the truth. We had kingdoms; you can Google stuff like Oyo Empire and other kingdoms all over Africa. While at that Google what happened to our arts and literature.

And when I say our education is crap it is because our education teaches us to disrespect the memory of our ancestors and perceived ourselves as inferior. There are lots that could be done to rectify the falsehood that is inherent in our education because it does not reflect who we are.

As much as people might not like this last part, I believe in people’s right to determine their destiny and for people to arrive at what they consider the goal of their society. Even if the way they go about things are wrong in our perspective.

One day, someone or people would rise up in that society to challenge the status quo. That has historically work better than some other people with holier than thou attitude coming to teach them how to be civilized.

The laws that we follow in this society is one that we impose upon ourselves, which is why the constitution started with “We the people”. How well would we take it if some people were to descend on us and try to teach us to live like them? Say Saudi Arabia for example.

If we don’t want anyone dictating to us how to live why would we think that we have the right to dictate to other people how they should live?

My stand is that people with the same world view tend to gel together. Nigeria as constituted cannot work.

I strongly believe that the North should have the right to direct its people in whatever direction they deem appropriate, East and West should have that power too. We should be able to make the decision whether or not we want to be in the same country.

The West is not as interested in the welfare of the people in Africa as we would like to believe most of the time. The girls kidnapped in Nigeria are 300 and the West acts as if it is terrified and repulsed about that episode while it stood around and watched between five hundred to one million people get killed in 100 days in Rwanda without lifting a finger.

This is hardly surprising, Rwanda has no oil. Nigeria does.

The world has been standing around and has not done anything to address the raping of the Ogoni’s land. They watched helplessly for over a year as Ken Saro Wiwa was imprisoned and eventually executed.
He was fighting for his people’s freedom but was on the wrong side of the oil benefit.

I do not say that abducting the girls was a good thing; I will never say such a thing. Violence, for any reason except when defending yourself, has always been a no no for me.

We are shouting about 300 girls been kidnapped in Nigeria and how that is all wrong, and it is, but what are we doing about the psychos that are killing our children here in the States everyday?

Everyday we are brainwashed into accepting the corporate interests as our interests. I am not deceived by such assertion; if we must do right we should not be selective about it. We should do right, period.


to what will happen to the girls, I can only hope, like the rest of the world, that they will be okay and that they will be retuned soon. These are just ordinary girls, from ordinary family. Some families, even in the North, believe in educating their children regardless of gender, I went to school with some. That was why the girls were in school.

Written by
Michael Ewetuga
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