Dilemmas come in different shapes and magnitude; yet some are simply ridiculous and difficult to understand.
A boy was born blind but his mother always tried to explain to him the beauty of nature. One favourite subject of their lessons was the beauty of flowers. The mother would use graphic words to describe how beautiful a flower is and how it beautifies nature. The blind boy assimilated all he could. Then, one day of miracle came, his eyes were opened and he could see for the first time in his life. Incidentally, the first thing he saw was a flower planted in a vase on his mother’s bedside table. He asked his mother what it was and she told him it was a flower. Then he looked at his mum and said: “Mum, you are a bad teacher. So a flower is this beautiful and all you could describe did not match what I am seeing”. Well, the mother was speechless because how else could one describe the beauty of something to a blind person! There we go…
My search for the almighty daily bread landed me in an international school of repute at where I still answer the call of duty even now. Of all the experience I have gathered so far, one sad fact remains: as Nigerians in particular, and as Africans in general, our brains have been mercilessly poked and toyed with by the white and by ourselves. It is a pathetic case – our maxim now seems to read thus: nothing good can come out of the ‘Black Continent’. Take a second to follow my line.
Tell an average wealthy Nigerian to enroll his child in a school in Nigeria. The first question, sadly from the elite of our society will, most possibly, be: “how many of the teachers are white?” or “is the Principal white?”. No wonder then that for school owners to win the patronage of wealthy parents, all they need to do is to bring a white folk from anywhere – Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, South Africa, and make him or her the principal even if such a person is a complete moron. It does not matter if the person is a British citizen (that is the bait we all swallow) because to face the fact squarely, would a successful Briton or American leave his fertile country to work in a country like Nigeria? Of course, we get mostly the dregs of their system and crown them princes of ours. But sadly enough, we all see the folly in this yet the mentality has come to stay. So, I do not blame school owners because they have to dance to the tune of their customers.
Great, good, better qualified and more knowledgeable local teachers abound but they hardly rise beyond the post of a classroom teacher; only a few extremely lucky ones get to the point of heading a department; and to be a curriculum leader, you must have been living and working in London or some village around London for an appreciable number of years. So, brothers and sisters, nobody is saying that you have not been teaching for donkey years but who cares! Even if after working for donkey years you have become a donkey yourself, why didn’t you become a white donkey? Sad, isn’t it? But it is real; the stupid dilemma of colour mentality.
I dwell much on this line because of my first hand experience as an observer, but the cultural bastardization cuts across every facet of our existence. And you know what? We are willing accomplices in this crime. We are thought to be the last generation of monkeys with our tails just recently disappeared; and we gladly and with a resounding round of applause agree to the ‘golden truth’. Look at these.
Our children are subjected to a life of cultural slavery at home by forcing them to speak only English language – they speak it in school and, as a rule, they speak it at home. They grow up in Nigeria without understanding their own languages. It is good to be fluent in English because they will interact with the whole world, it is good to understand French, Italian and Spanish because the world is becoming a global village but why must an aged grandparent be sentenced to a life of brain torture because he cannot converse freely with his grandchild who can only speak English language? All because our local languages are deemed inferior! Watch it, aren’t we accomplices?
I was listening to a local music sometime – was it Apala or Juju (I am an incurable lover of local music) in my office and one of my colleagues came in. On hearing it, the colleague looked at me (with some pity I think) and said, to my annoyance: “Mr. Taiwo, you and all these your ‘old school’ songs”. What! So, I am still living in the Stone Age if I haven’t switched over to foreign music or at least local pop and hipop? Why then wouldn’t the white consider us brain-dead if our culture has become to us an archaic relic? And we still grumble that the white are more valued than us? Of course, if you do not care to step on your cloth, an outsider may not care to tear it for you.
Don’t we not now eat African food in the European or American way? We invented Eba, yet they teach us how to eat it. To God be the glory!
So, all I have to say is that until we start to place a value on our own culture and our own intellectual products, we will remain subservient in this racial relationship. Yet we all know but who will explain the beauty of the flower to us the blind? Let us all think about it; and examine where we stand guilty in this crime of cultural/colour alienation.