How Nigerians foster a culture of intimidation and cowardice (aka when respect is used as a tool of oppression)

I am aware of the difficulty of this topic and I have tried to be careful in my phrasing to avoid being inflammatory but I think there are many hard issues that need to be addressed honestly. If we are to have any hope of moving forward, we cannot pretend they don’t exist.

 

I am angry that Nigeria has a culture of cowardice. Resistance is never easy; that’s why it’s usually called a struggle. And it costs the participants something. Sometimes, the cost is very high indeed. But Nigerians, we don’t like to make sacrifices. We don’t like anything that disrupts our comfort. Therefore we’ll hold our noses and pretend that shit doesn’t stink so long as we’re able to continue to enjoy whatever advantages we are currently the beneficiaries of. We’ll put up with inhumane treatment as long as we get to pick up a few crumbs at the end of it. We won’t defend our basic human dignity. We fail to stand up for our principles. We only have courage when dealing with people lower on the scale than us. That’s why abuse of all kinds is so rampant amongst our communities.

 

It seems our society operates under the maxim: ‘oppress or be oppressed’. The same people that would never have the guts to point out to a boss that they’re wrong or confront a politician for blatant corruption go home and lord it over their wives and other members of their households. The same woman that cowers in fear before her husband while he goes through his routine of using her as a punching bag can suddenly find torrents of abuse to unleash on her poor children/domestic workers and staff over the slightest mistake. The same woman that hates being oppressed thinks nothing of turning around to practice that same oppression on others. The same community that says nothing when a woman (or her child) is violated on a regular basis will be the first to loudly tell her off for leaving that environment. And none of the victims in these scenarios dare react otherwise they would be rounded upon for breaking ‘tradition’. Frankly, I am disgusted.

 

Then to worsen things, you find this same collection of individuals (or perhaps perpetrators) in church, happily occupying positions of authority or mounting the podium to disperse a gospel that they have clearly not taken to heart. Praying for hours a day means nothing when you treat your fellow human beings like crap. If I were not already a Christian, it would be almost impossible for me to become one after observing all that I have. How people seriously expect to spread ‘The Word’ while being one step removed from evil in their personal lives is beyond me. The level of hypocrisy is astounding. The overt performance of religiosity unaccompanied by self-awareness and humility would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.  

 

And so we are trapped in the hell we create for ourselves, lacking the honesty to realise that there is a need for change and lacking the courage to take the action that is needed to bring the cycle of exploitation to an end.

 

I’m sick of it and I want no part of it anymore.

 

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9 responses to “How Nigerians foster a culture of intimidation and cowardice (aka when respect is used as a tool of oppression)

  1. You are right…very very right. but i do not understand your last paragraph .”…..I’m sick of it and I want no part of it anymore…….”
    please explain if you don’t mind.
    Charles

    • Hi Charles,

      I mean that i am no longer going to act as if the behaviour i’ve described is normal or desirable by participating in it or by enabling it by my silence. I do not accept that to be Nigerian means to engage in abuse and intimidation and i intend to live in a way that reflects that even if it makes me unpopular.

      Sorry if that part of my post did not communicate that well. I hope this makes things clearer.

  2. I totally get where you are coming from. Oppression and bullying is so rampant in our society and the hypocrisy stinks! I touched briefly on this topic in my post about abusing our domestic helps. Women who would not stand their employers at work treating them like rubbish, have no qualms going home and treating their maids like trash!

    • I enjoyed your post and i am so glad to see that i am not the only one that has noticed this issue. I hope that the more we talk about this, the greater the opportunity to change people’s perceptions and behaviour. We could really do with honest self reflection on a personal and societal level.

  3. I also want no part of it…an old boss of mine who is said to be a pastor in his such one looked at me and said i was ugly…i left the place at the opportunity I got even though I had no job waiting for me. It so dishearting that most people who are highly paced in society are devils in their home

    • Lara, what you did was very brave. It must have been hard to leave, not knowing what you were going to do after but i applaud your action because it takes an understanding of your worth and dignity to refuse to allow someone else drag you down like that. If your former boss can treat employees in such a manner, i am afraid to imagine what he says to his family members that have no choice but to be around him.

  4. Beautifully written, a sure catalyst to inspire change! I see what you mean our blog posts and views on this issue are very similar. I love the way you used daily interactions to illustrate your point. (e.g. “The same people that would never have the guts to point out to a boss that they’re wrong or confront a politician for blatant corruption go home and lord it over their wives… The same woman that cowers in fear … suddenly finds torrents of abuse to unleash on her poor children/domestic workers and staff over the slightest mistake.”) Do you mind if I link this post to mine?

    • Thanks for your kind comment, Cyberdiva. Since I blogged about this, i’ve been happy to see that i’m not alone in my thoughts so I absolutely do not mind if you link my post.

  5. Pingback: Last Post of 2010 and Round-up of Posts I found Interesting « Culture Soup·

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