Why can’t we face the truth?

The Dapchi schoolgirls have indeed been kidnapped by Boko Haram, and the authorities knew all along. I wish they would just say things as they are from the beginning instead of making themselves look like fools.

First, they say no one was kidnapped; the girls are just lost. Then they play down the number and say it is more like fifty girls, not a hundred. Various numbers are flung about in the days following the disappearance. After all the effort to cover it all up, the truth, as it tends to do, comes out. This happened for Chibok and now Dapchi. Where next?

Why do we find the truth so difficult to tell? Nothing is ever improved by living in denial. From the start of this insurgency, we’ve been burying attacks, watering down death tolls and over exaggerating the success of the military. We are somehow ashamed of what the world would think of us if we don’t paint this picture of an African paradise we seem to be going for.

I see this shame in Nigerians abroad. When the country is portrayed ‘badly’ on television, emotions flare up and there are hot words of fury on social media. We prefer shows that celebrate the lives of rich, successful Nigerians in London.  But what if television is not lying?  Most of the time, I see some truth in these things. By the way, why are these international Nigerians trying their best not to return home after their studies if all is good?

In District 9, when Nigerians were portrayed as gangsters trying to exploit the Prawns, everyone got angry. The truth is, there are quite a few Nigerian drug dealers in South Africa (at least there used to be at the time the film was made). And the rituals with the alien body parts were not farfetched. We are superstitious. Anyone like me who grew up watching Mount Zion films knows this.

The documentaries showing rubbish heaps everywhere (has anyone been to Lagos lately?), David Cameron’s “fantastically corrupt” comment, Google images of jampacked danfo buses in a dirty marketplace – they are all true. And let’s face it, how many bookshops do we have that offer glorious pieces of literature? I am not saying we don’t have bookshops, but I don’t wholeheartedly agree with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s comments to that French journalist. Most of the shops either sell school textbooks or Christian prosperity gospel books. In a country of 190 million, the number of good bookshops we have is embarrassing.

How can we fix problems we claim not to have? As a nation, we need a group therapy session. It should be mandatory for every single person that breathes this petroleum-polluted air. Every Saturday morning, we need to gather at the nearest park or square, sit in a circle and get frank with ourselves.


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