Straws on the Camel’s Back: Part 3
I must confess my initial hesitation to write this final piece. In a country dominated by so much religion, I am treading on dangerous waters by putting this issue to paper. However, I am tired of being scared of upsetting people. I could go on about the Nigerian fear of offence but I will conserve my 500 words.
If you’ve ever walked these streets, you would have heard variants of the dismissive phrase, ‘God is in control’, and its deceitful companion, ‘it is well’. Don’t worry, this is not a rant against God or religious hope. Nigerians, both believer and sceptic, recite these phrases as a way of deceiving themselves into a personal utopia where they are excused from being proactive and problems are expelled from their thoughts. We don’t do anything about suffering and domestic abuse, saying, “God is in control”. Government officials pocket money meant for the fight against terrorism: It is well.
When people ask me if I’m getting used to the excruciating Lagos traffic, I tell them quite bluntly, “No. And I don’t want to get used to it”. I don’t want to settle down into something that shouldn’t be and just say, “It is well”. I don’t see what’s well about a person spending four hours on the road just to travel two miles. All the while, motionless motorists are being robbed. You finally arrive home to find that there’s still no electricity, thus no running water. After eating dinner in the darkness, you go to bed but your sleep is stolen by the symphony of generators from your lucky neighbours who found petrol in the fuel scarcity. So, you use what’s left of your phone battery to read the news where you discover that yet another person has been kidnapped, a school has been set on fire and some person has bought a N2,000,000 Valentino dress with N135,000 heels to go with it. All is not well!
We choose to live in an abyss of false hope, using pretend religion as an excuse for our lethargy towards injustice and corruption. We have somehow managed to deceive ourselves to the point that we are now convinced all this is normal and that someday normal will somehow get better. Tomorrow, you’ll wake up and everything will be bright and glorious without you lifting a finger. Perhaps you are waiting for fire to fall from heaven because God is in control. What use is your sighing and shrugging shoulders when you possess the ability to bring about change. No one wants to be the one to make the difference. Fast money and personal gain are of greater interest.
Maybe I am being pessimistic. True, the Nigerian hope is rather romantic; but a line needs to be drawn between optimism and just plain foolishness. What may have initially started as honest positivity has become a sad farce.
The fact that we love deceiving ourselves. This is a straw on the camel’s back.