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Killing the virus


TO those who, religiously, worship at the altar of egotism, humility and meekness are, at best, alien virtues or at worst, simply non-existent. For the sake of clarity, egocentric people love to hear only their own voices, not just sometimes, but all the time. It is, therefore, akin to chasing a will o’ the wisp, to have a decent argument with anyone, who relishes a monologue – talking down at others like a demagogue – when any matter, which requires the contribution of everyone, is up for discussion.

   It needs no telling that everywhere around us, in Nigeria, ego (spelt with a capital ‘E’) sits eminently in various facets of our lives. This makes a lot of people conclude that wherever you see any territorial person (at home or abroad) it must be a Nigerian! From South Africa, United States of America to the United Kingdom and indeed anywhere on planet earth, where our compatriots are found, ego reigns in all its majesty. You may call this trait a by-product of our habitual bravado and expressiveness, as a people, yet this is a human frailty (or is it failing?), which has tended to put most of us in trouble, all the time, in any country we sojourn in.

    To be sure, outside the country, Nigerians are known to conduct themselves in a garish and attention –seeking way. If they are not engaged in a vulgar display of wealth, at those elaborate parties, spraying foreign currency like it’s mere water, they are playing music too many decibels higher than what propriety allows. Again, we (Nigerians) are the ones who raise our voices the loudest at any public place. What is more? We, wilfully, make a show of the kind of cars we drive and how we drive them. How sad.

   On the home front, you are, most likely, to hear some conceited men or women, who think too highly of themselves, announce to everyone, for the avoidance of doubt: “Do you know who I am?” Others, in this pig-headed league, often take umbrage at not being addressed ‘properly’, either at a function or in the office. They, therefore, waste no time, by insisting that they be accorded their due titles (which may range from Sir, Lady, Dame, Chief to Proof, Dr. etc.). Hmmm… our people.  In fact, it goes without saying that the average Nigerian has an ego the size of an elephant. Any attempt made by anyone – big or small – to bruise this jealously guarded ego, is vehemently resisted.

   This, perhaps, explains why we have continued to seek harmony, one with another, across all the imaginable divides, all to no avail. Yet, it takes a heart full of LOVE (and not the kind we pay lip service to) to think of others ahead of yourself or even make certain concessions to them – no matter how demanding and inconvenient- without thinking of your own needs first. Were egocentricity to be dealt a decisive blow, in our body politic, for example, we may have witnessed the emergence of a greater and better Nigeria today. Who knows? But, the way we have carried on, from independence until the present, with the enthronement of sectarian interests in place of altruism, our ‘struggle ‘ towards Nirvana, may be far from over.

But, if we agree that ‘ love is the end-all and the be-all of all laws’’, as we often hear, why does ego still poke its sticky nose into the softer affairs of men and women? The answer to this question may not be as easy to come by as 2 + 2 equals 4. But, the question, grave as it is, bears answering still. And talking about love, it would seem the true moral and import of it, as symbolised by St. Valentine’s Day, is clearly lost on us. Or is it that we merely graft from the day, the glamorous and romantic part (which we understand to mean donning any attire with a touch of red and proceeding to take our partners to cloud nine?). I am, however, of the opinion that the day, unlike our carnal imputation of flimsiness into its DNA, betokens sobriety, selflessness and sacrificein the interest of fellow humans.

   Sadly, that sense of selflessness and sacrifice is, evidently, absent in most marriages. Therefore, most unions are crumbling, like a giant standing on two legs of clay, because some couples – either blinded in the heat of the moment or are just merely insensitive – ignore the elephant in the room, until a mortal damage is done.

   Expectedly, such couples often make such infantile excuses as ‘the devil pushed us to the brink’. Whereas, they fail to admit that a marriage in which ego is allowed to have a foot in the door, is as good as doomed. True, most crimes, in these parts, are committed, while the blame for their consequences are laid at the doorstep of the devil.

   Beyond the dictates of religion and the Biblical ‘turning of the other cheek’, I have always thought of marriage (and I still do) as that institution from which individualism must be banished, while husband and wife must think of each other as one, at all times. But how can this happen in a union daily characterised by ego trips? For instance, does it, really, matter who bought the tickets for the family’s vacation abroad, last summer? Should it, really, be an issue if the wife once supported the husband in picking up some of the bills at home? Why must a wife make a ‘song and dance ‘ of whose pay packet is fatter?

   Now, some women, each time there is a disagreement between them and their husbands, are always battle-ready, striking that recalcitrant pose, which appears to scream: ‘’Oh come on, bring it on, boy! Let’s see who blinks first! ‘’. Truth is told, when this disagreement, extends, unnecessarily, as a test of ego, it is only a virus that must be killed.

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