We don’t like to talk or read a lot about our history and traditions. Many of us have decided to streamline ourselves strictly to things that would bring us immediate pleasures and ephemeral benefits – commercial nonsense and professional certifications. We have substituted professionalism for intellectualism. We have decide to buy into the idea that intellectual development and mind-stretching cognitive exercises is for the Gods, relegating ourselves to the bottom of the thinking pyramid – proles if Orwell’s 1984 has any truth in it.
When asked why we do not talk about our history, like the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War, many of us claim we do not want to hurt the ‘sensibilities’ of others, but we always talk about these ‘taboo’ topics in deprecatory under and over tones to each other, for example “these Igbo people ehn, them too like money”, “na so Yoruba people dey ooooo”, “omo no go try that mallam ooo, you want make him slash your face”. Indeed these slurs exist today. If indeed we begin to have effective discourse about the events of the past maybe our cultures would evolve to one of diversity-cum-tolerance void of nepotism and dark interpretations of ethnicity and tribalism.
We like to believe the politics practiced by those at the helm of affairs does not concern us. I dare anyone to leave his house during ‘sanitation’, then you would know indeed the politics of the country concerns you. Many of us, especially the literate elite are completely apolitical and those who are not lack real understanding of politics and history as regards to their immediate environment. We have politicians that lack any knowledge of history – regarding the politics of those in the past – and a citizenry that also lack any real understanding of political history.
This is why history would continue to repeat itself on more dangerous levels. Our newspapers and magazine articles and columns over the span of 50 years have a striking resemblance in content that one would begin to think we have been stuck in the past. We could avoid or solve many of our problems by following or avoiding the steps of the ‘ancients’. But how can we pull this off when we do not know what the ‘ancients’ are. It is when one analysis past events and discovers existing patterns that one can begin to make real predictions and propositions about future events.
We like to give the excuse of spate literature. I have heard nothing more false. We would prefer to buy the latest ACCA and ICAN study guide, or ‘fifty shades freed’ instead of Bernard Odogwu’s “No place to hide: crises and conflicts inside Biafra” or Samuel and Obadiah Johnson’s “A History of the Yorubas from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate”. Indeed if we really want to know, we can find out.
As a caveat, I would like to add that apart from certain personal equivocations I find no problem with professionalism and all it minions in whatever shape, size and format they choose to take, my dilemma rises from the prevalent anti-intellectualism and pseudo-intellectualism rife with in many circles, including our apex citadels of learning.