Our beliefs, our undoing!
There is a school of thought that wants African countries to copy something China is doing today.
It is not the way they are controlling their population. We may copy a modified version of it later but for now that should not be our priority.
In fact, there are other things we are going to copy from China in the near future after modifying them to suit our culture. But for now, it should be the many questionable beliefs that are accepted hook line and sinker by the majority in Africa.
It is suggested we purge our populations of these beliefs as China is doing to some of her citizens today through re-education. It doesn’t have to be by confining such people inside fortified cities like prisoners as China is reported to have done.
Only a few thousand Africans are free from these beliefs anyway and so it won’t be possible to quarantine all the rest of us.
People should remain in their homes and live their normal lives while the re-orientation is carried out through all the mediums of information available to us today.
To our school of thought, these beliefs are one of the main reasons nothing is working well in most African countries despite following the same processes that had worked for other countries.
For instance, fighting corruption especially in the public sector is one of the ways of lifting a nation out of poverty but Nigeria has been doing that for almost four years now without much to show for it.
In fact, Nigeria is actually sinking deeper into poverty since the All Progressive Congress (APC) government headed by General Muhammadu Buhari, a man reputed to have zero tolerance for corrupt practices assumed office and has been valiantly fighting corruption to the best of his abilities.
A new report by the World Poverty Clock actually shows that since the APC government came into power in 2015, Nigeria has overtaken India (with a much higher population) as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world despite the avowed war on corruption! Mass education that removes a people from extreme poverty is also not working for us here in Nigeria.
Though we still have a long way to go in educating all our people especially those in the north, the modest progress we have made in the last thirty to forty years has not improved our lot proportionately.
Like the war against corruption, some would even swear it has lowered us deeper into the poverty pit. What with millions of university graduates roaming the streets looking for non-existent jobs!
Nigeria has enough people trained in petroleum, mechanical and electrical engineering but we cannot refine our crude oil and so we import at costs that are prohibitive as they are controversial.
We have vast arable land and a multitude of men and women trained to a university level in agriculture still we don’t have enough food to feed ourselves and so we have to also import.
We have embraced democracy and religions that lifted other countries from poverty but ours has deepened and it seems we have been jinxed.
According to our school of thought, it is our questionable beliefs that are largely responsible for this state of affairs.
The first questionable belief on the list of the school of thought is the supernatural powers we attribute to witches and wizards.
There is hardly anything negative that befell us or anything we have done wrong that we don’t blame on witches. They are behind everything that brings sorrow, pain and shame to us as individuals or as a group.
Deaths, sicknesses, insanity, impotence, bareness, crop failure, accidents, breakup of marriages as well as breakdown of cars (knock engine) or machinery, poverty, unemployment, failure at exam, drunkenness, wastefulness and other negative things too numerous to list in full here we blame on witches – usually from among our family members or neighbours.
Anybody who disagrees with any of these beliefs was usually suspected of also being a witch and in many cases such a person was avoided by many.
Suspected witches are still burnt in some communities up till today! According to our school of thought, this is one of the reasons nothing is working well for us in Africa especially in Nigeria.
The influence of native doctors over the lives of a good majority of Africans is another reason processes that work well for others don’t work the same way in many African countries.
We believe these native doctors have powers comparable to those of witches. But whereas witchesare believed to have limitless power to do only evil, we also believe native doctors could do either evil or good depending on what the client wants and her preparedness to pay their bill.
To us, there is no sickness or condition that witches afflicts us with (home problem) that a native doctor cannot cure or undo.
Instead of consulting orthodox doctors to prescribe what to take to cure an illness or a condition, most Africans prefer the services of native doctors.
This is not bad per se but the problem is that a good number of them are quacks. They rarely turn anybody who consulted them away on the grounds that the ailment or the condition was beyond them. They claim to have a cure for every illness including AIDS. They have led many to avoidable deaths because people believe in their claims of doing things scientifically deemed as impossible.
For instance, no soldier who has taken part in battles as an infantry man in a conventional war will buy the crap about bullet proof charms. But most Nigerians will doubt the sanity of anyone who tells them that no charm can stop rifle bullets.
Most Africans especially Nigerians including highly educated persons, will also doubt the sanity of anyone who tells them that a native doctor cannot make one to become exceedingly rich overnight through some weird formulations or exercises.
From time immemorial, many Nigerians believe that one could get rich overnight through charms or rituals such as walking naked at midnight in the cemetery or in a forest while chanting prescribed incantations. Few persons would have quarreled with this if it were to end at incantations. But it does not end there.
The spate of secret killings in which parts of the human body such as the genitals, tongues, breasts or eyes had been removed are due to native doctors who demand such things before preparing money charms for their clients. They also demand parts of hunchbacks and persons with albinism (albino) for their charms.
They ask men to make love with their mothers or with corpses in order to become rich overnight! Some pastors are also reported to be murdering people and burying them in their churches with the belief that this will attract multitude to their churches! At one time there was a scare that a man’s genitals could disappear when he shook hands withsome strangers and people believed it! In Nigeria today, ladies underwear (pants) have joined the list of items native doctors demand before preparing so-called money charms for their potential clients.
Several ladies have been killed by men hunting for ladies’ panties. Some Muslims believe killing non-Muslims is a sure way to heaven and they look for opportunities to do just that.
Our hearts have remained receptacles of beliefs that would be considered as crazy in other places.
Our school of thought wants African states to purge their citizens of their mind boggling gullibility. They concluded by warning that we cannot soar and nothing will work well for us if we continue to believe infantasies!
• Maduku, a retired Nigerian Army (Infantry) Captain and novelist, wrote from Effurun-Otor, Delta State.