Five for Friday - 25-Oct-2019
Nigerians are great — you can’t tell me nothing!
Welcome to Five for Friday: the weekly letter to take into your weekend, with a Thought, a Word, a Tip, a Trip (something I enjoyed — that tripped me) and a Thing (just something random!) Also, the Being Human letter goes paid in two weeks!
I think a lot about internalised colonialism in Nigerians (can’t speak for other African countries but I wouldn’t be surprised). It’s the negative ideas we tend to have about ourselves in relation to the West. It’s one thing to recognise (as we should) where we fall short of the best we could be, but it’s something else when we take that to mean something is wrong with us.
I refuse to accept there is anything Nigerian that isn’t common to humanity.
It’s even more annoying when it comes from those who, having being abroad, seem to have picked up a conceit that‘s perhaps more Western than they realise. It’s all Nigerians are like this and Nigerians behave like that, but it often doesn’t include them or their circles, of course.
The whole thing brings to mind something from the Bible:
So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” (Numbers 13:32-33, ESV)
It’s that last line I worry about, because I refuse to accept that we’re grasshoppers, but I fear we sometimes see ourselves as such.
Nigeria may be a mess, but I refuse to accept that Nigerians are. (Yes, the two realities can coexist.)
(Still looking for ideas for a “t” word for this!) 😃
“But,” said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, “I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done.”
“So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.”
— JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
I’m pretty bad at remembering names but something I learned from Lost (the TV show) is to use people’s names a lot when I talk to them. I find any excuse to. I call them, I make a joke about it, I just mention it. I find I have to use names multiple times to stick it in my head, but over time it’s helped me appear much better at names than I really am — because people notice when you use their names.
When the BBC recently put out an expose on how lecturers in Nigeria and Ghana sexually exploit students, a lot of people suggested that our press is too lazy to produce quality investigative journalism (never mind that the BBC one was helmed by Nigerians). That saddened me because it’s not that simple: journalists need resources and investigative journalism more so. Plus it really does help to have freedom of the press. (People have forgotten what it was like when Tell magazine and their cohorts regularly had their staff in danger of imprisonment.)
Anyway, a brave journalist with The Cable, Fisayo Soyombo, has done a three-parter on the criminal justice system. Read part one here. And then go here for part 2 and part 3.
And please share it on your social media. This deserves to be publicised, especially since his own life is now possibly in danger. Let’s not let his work be in vain.
The nicest thing that happened to me this week was someone telling me that they read a report I’d written on a patient and really liked it. It was a small thing, but very kind and it made me feel really warm inside. I believe it was Mark Twain who said he could live on a good compliment for two months. I agree.
Who can you say something kind to this weekend?
I love to hear from readers, so please email me with any thoughts or questions. And if you enjoyed this letter, please go ahead and share it!