Today, among countless Nigerians, there still exists very strong empire nostalgia. And many more fail to see the external dimension to the failure that Nigeria and most African countries have become today.
Few days ago, the US based foreignpolicy.com published a paper in which they insisted Nigeria is now officially a failed state.
We know Nigeria is not in good shape at the moment; perhaps it has never been, not in the last 60 years of independence or 100 years of amalgamation. Yet, we have never made serious efforts to dig up the reasons why. To add salt to injury, we have adopted a skewed approach to our own history, so much so that most existing accounts were either written by our colonizers themselves or those who fail to fully appreciate the depth of our crises as a people.
As the most populous nation in Africa, the most populous black nation in the world, Nigeria is supposed to be a torch bearer offering hope to blacks everywhere. Not content with woeful failure in that regard, at a time when serious nations are discussing possibilities of colonizing Mars, Nano medicine and stem cell science, we are here debating how to grant cows special status, banditry and Shar’ia law.
We have persistently failed to see that we were programmed to fail as a country and as such do something about it. We have also refused to acknowledge the reasons why the worst of us continue to be in charge of our affairs, and a vast majority of us, instead of connecting the dots, continue to view the colonial era through rose-tinted glasses, even insisting that that era was our golden age. A serious country would by now be making conscious efforts to break free from all negative external influences.
Against popular narrative which suggests that our myriad problems are homegrown, reality is that Britain, in the way it has conducted its affairs here and continue to conduct them, created most of our problems and continue to fuel many of them, directly or indirectly, in active connivances with other western powers, their big corporations and their proxies here, till this day.
And many are yet to see this truth. This is why Nigeria remains perhaps the only country in the world where to this day, majority of her citizens do not have a negative feeling about colonialism or their colonial masters, where many nations, i.e Burkina Faso, have changed their name from what the colonial masters gave them. For us, the colonial masters are treated as heroes till today. The city of Port Harcourt and many streets across Nigeria for example, remain named after some of the most evil colonial masters.
Speak to an average Nigerian today and you would hear lines like, ‘I wish the colonial masters left in the 1990s’, ‘I wish the colonial masters will come back’ etc. Author and Historian Max Siollun describes this contradiction in the following words: “Rather than suffering from Stockholm syndrome, Nigeria is a classic case of a country suffering from a bout of winner’s victory syndrome”.
Yes, pre-colonial Nigeria was not a utopia before Britain came and ruined everything, but the fact remains that the British system of repression is still the style of the ruling class holding fort for them today, and the same Britain continues to offer that system its overt or covert support.
Our psyche has been so thoroughly impoverished that today, many of us look back on our own ancestors with disdain and see ourselves as incapable of building a world-class nation without outside help.
Today, among Nigerians, you see fanatical support of football clubs like Liverpool. How many of these supporters know that the initial founders of these football clubs were very heartless slave traders who, when slavery was eventually outlawed, decided to reinvest their money in football clubs that will reap future rewards for their generations unborn?
Yet we watch them and shout in ecstasy when they score. Liverpool itself was a major port for the transatlantic slave trade, where thieves and outlaws gather for trips to Africa, where slave ships were built and often repaired. That city, and perhaps the entire British island, wouldn’t be what it is today without the trade in black Africans.
And yet many of us fight among ourselves, close our eyes to the real fight, and the ruling class submit themselves to foreign powers, corruption and greed. When will we wake up?
- Albert Afeso Akanbi [email protected]