Are we truly independent?
It’s another October 1 and it’s Nigeria’s Independence Day anniversary. Many Nigerians would have composed the “Happy Independence” messages they intend to send to their friends some days ahead; many would have designed the independence flyers and flags they would use as DPs, while some may have gone a step further to even buy green and white dresses to adorn themselves today marking the independence celebration. Even Google has joined in by changing its doodle to reflect the occasion!
Our government is not left out! The federal government and even states budgets to mark the independence celebrations would be most impressive; speeches will be delivered, we would have a presidential address and manners of fanfare to commemorate this day and make it colourful and remarkable!
Nonetheless, one question I cannot help but ask is: ARE WE TRULY INDEPENDENT? Or what exactly are we Independent of?
I, sometimes, struggle with the fact that we are politically independent as we are evidently still dependent on the West for structural and constitutional policies. Well, what do I even know about politics? So let me not go there. I’m only but a mere writer! However, I know enough to say that we are not psychologically, emotionally and mentally independent! What am I saying?
Consider these: if the head of our children’s primary or secondary school is “white,” even if he is from Egypt, Algeria, India or Lebanon, we believe the school will have a better standard of education than the one with a Nigerian head. And of course, we are ready and willing to pay whatever fees charged!
If we are asked to pay school fees in dollars or pounds, it makes the school of “international standard” and automatically better than the one which demands its fees in naira.
The same goes for anything else. Once we are billed in foreign currency, then it is the real deal!
Our handbags, shoes and clothes must be made and bought in Italy, Spain, UK or the US otherwise, we are looked down upon or considered not “up to standard”! The same way beads strung by a local jewellery makers aren’t considered an appropriate accessory for certain class of people.
If I say “I love Nigerian movies,” I am seen as “local”. I should be watching American movies be hip…fancy Adele instead of Alade…dance to the songs of Riri instead of Tiwa, dress like Beyoncé instead of Chidinma, fancy Jay-Z instead of MI, have a crush on Denzel instead of Desmond! We would rather keep up with the Kardashians but not with the Ekeindes!
When I go to my village for Christmas, take pictures and post on social media, people say I’m unbelievable, that I should not be seen doing such. ”it is not good for your brand”, I’m told. But when I go to Disneyland and post pictures, I’m applauded with many likes and comments!
When I fix Brazilian hair they think I’m beautiful but when I do suku, they say I’m “bush”! They call me “Ekaette”!
When I say I like guguru and epa, roasted corn, ube, and boli with fish or try to eat them in the company of some people in public, they I’m embarrassing them. But if I choose to eat chicken and chips, it’s fine and they are proud of me! Many will not snap a bowl of eba and ogbono soup to post on social media but anytime they a bowl of salad, rather than pray before eating, they snap and post before eating!
When I wear my Ankara or Adire to certain meetings or occasions, I am seen as someone without fashion sense and style…in fact, I am a villager!
The Nigerian accent is now like a taboo on our radio and TV stations. What is prevalent now is the Ameritish accent – a combination of American and British accent – a result of accent confusion, which occurs when trying to fake one!
Let me not even talk about our complete dependence on the educational and medical systems abroad due to no fault of ours, though. Anytime, any day a foreign degree will open doors, Nigerian degrees won’t!
Even as a business person, Nigerian companies take me seriously when they see I have a foreign affiliation or even an ordinary address or phone number whether functional or not…who cares?
Many companies and even government establishment prefer mediocre foreign “technical experts” to competent Nigerians. And if they must employ Nigerians, they prefer to bring them in from “abroad” as expatriates and pay them in Forex because they speak and act like a white man.
And of course, it’s a proven fact that if you are single and have a red or blue passport, that makes you more eligible for marriage than having all the virtues in Proverbs Chapter 31!
Some are not even proud of their native names or would not even speak their native dialect in public, neither would they admit to anything connected to their roots. They will proudly tell you they have never been to their hometown and don’t know where it is but they will burst your eardrums with tales anytime they travel overseas!
Late Fela Anikulapo Kuti sang about this phenomenon as far back as 1977 in his eponymous track ‘Colomentality’. The thoughts expressed in that song still resonates in our society today, 39 years later!
If I understand the lyrics of this song by this great man, “Colonial Mentality” is the ideals, principles, teachings, and philosophies that are the vestige of colonialism in our society, barring us political, economic, and socio-cultural common sense! It is the attitude that colonised peoples feel they are inferior to their colonisers. The direct implication of this is that they will still be very DEPENDENT on them!
it is said you are a colonial man
You have been a slave before
They have released you now,
have never released yourself
It is like this
It is like this what they do: they overdo
everything they do
What they do: they think that they
are better than their brothers. Is it not like this?. …
It is like this!
The thing why blacks are not good
because they like foreign things
Isn`t it like this?
Are the sentiments as expressed by the lyrics of this song familiar? I think they clearly sum up all the aforementioned!
Besides our mentality as individuals, our governance is not devoid of subtle slavery even as Nigeria celebrates 56 years today! We only morphed from one form of slavery to another and only the Slave Masters changed. We remain in a system of governance that oppresses and dehumanises till date.
So, just like I do every October 1, I ask again, ARE WE TRULY INDEPENDENT?
Mercy Makinde is a speaker, writer, coach and entrepreneurship advocate. She owns an online radio Station, Iaspire Radio, Nigeria’s first motivational radio Station; www.iaspireradio.com and a motivational and inspirational blog;www.iaspireblog.com.