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In Africa (nay: Nigeria) Opponents Are Seen And Treated As Enemies

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A gifted and motivational mind once said that woe betides a man who has nobody to criticize him; oppose him and constructively contribute to the other side of the view he holds. Also, it has been therefore observed in this vain, that the greatest contributor to the underdevelopment of Africa in general, is detest—indeed utmost dislike of contrary views (i.e. others' opinions) by those in key societal-positions (public and private). Indeed, the result of this scenario is “mistake unlimited”. Incontestably, the resultant effect is myopic and jaundiced outcomes of policies and actions. There are tin-gods everywhere. And this is also why dictatorship thrives in Africa. Furthermore, that is why Africa still, seemingly, remains in the Stone Age, and indeed, in the pre-historic times (that is in certain rural areas of Africa). And for the fact that views are not moderated and cross-fertilized by other minds, government policies in formulation and implementation have become real child-jokes (child play some will say). Denial of all the modern needs of man also remains real in Africa because of this. To say the least and indeed, crudity is the easiest outcome of the so-called well-formulated policies and actions by government and private establishments.

Properly assessed, Africa still remains where it is today developmentally, when compared to other areas of the jet-age world, as a result of the fact that opponents are seen and treated as enemies. Then the question now is: Who is an opponent? And why do those who oppose, oppose other people's view and actions? Is the opposition for the sake of opposing, or are they (opponents) being used by Mother Nature to moderate the outcome(s) of human relationships and existence on earth? Too, why do Africans hate oppositions to their views and actions even though their own ideas may be skewed?

At this point, let us first of all, define the words opponent, oppose and enemy. Understanding their meanings will surely help us in this write-up. According to an English Dictionary, to oppose mean to: place in front or in the way; to place or apply face to face or front to front; to set in contrast or balance; to set in conflict; to place as an obstacle; to face, to resist; to contend with; to make objection. In addition therefore, it defines opponent as something: placed opposite or in front; one who opposes a course of action, belief, and person. Therefore bearing these in mind, it becomes pertinent for us to define who an enemy is. According to the same English Dictionary we are using (The Concise Oxford Dictionary), an enemy is: one who hates or dislikes; a foe, a hostile force; hostile.

Now, let's reason!  Tell me! Is it not an unsound mind who will design to destroy an excellent and empirical idea when it is placed in front or in the way of a jaundiced, unhelpful, unbeneficial, non-uplifting and improvable idea (or policies or actions)? Tell me! Is it not a negative-mentality that seeks to destroy human uplifting ideals when they are placed or applied face to face or front to front to retrogressive quests and actions? Tell me! Whose interest is it, when better ideas are set in contrast to bad ideas, or rightly put: when better ideas are allowed to conflict and balance unworthy and non benefitting ideas? Tell me! Why should somebody complain when superior and innovative knowledge is placed as an obstacle or resists mediocre and antiquated knowledge? Indeed, reasoning-out and properly understanding these questions will surely land one on the scenario: “opponents are seen and treated as enemies”—a phenomenon that is overwhelmingly prevalent in African societies presently and heretofore.

In the same vein, it could therefore be said that it is the distracters of sound, empirical, uplifting, better, benefitting, superior and innovative knowledge who are the true enemies of (our) society and humanity in general. They are enemies because they hate and dislike these noble ideals which ennoble humanity. Indeed, they are the true enemies, because they pose themselves as foes and hostile forces to these progressive intentions for humanity's betterment. We are here emphasizing on those who see opponents as enemies. Yes, we are pointing at those who, while at the helms of affairs, try all their possible best, to snuff-out opposing views, ideals and actions. We are here writing on those who, when they are better placed in society, make others who are below them, to feel inferior in thought and in their attitude to life (and in their actions).

Now, may we ask ourselves, why has Africa and Africans (nay: Nigeria and Nigerians) not made a notable and significant contribution to humanity—especially scientifically and technologically, despite her huge material and manpower resources imbued in it by Mother Nature? The answer is, in the main, because, like Chinua Achebe wrote in his seminal book: “The Trouble with Nigeria”, there is lack of intellectual rigor in Africa. Indeed, the truth is that Africans still live, in this modern time, within the 'Sahara-desert of uncritical minds'. Indeed, critical minds in all aspects of human endeavour are discouraged, detested and sometimes severely punished for the ideas and ideals they hold. They are seen as deviants, non-conformists and undue radicals (apologies to the self acclaimed 'evil genius' of Nigeria), just because they oppose un-benefitting and non-uplifting actions of those that call the shots. Regrettably, they are many a time, sought-out to be destroyed by hostile forces against innovative ideas and ideals.

In comparison to the other parts of the world, seen to be developing fast and actually developed (mentally and materially); critical minds are encouraged and all the time listened-to. To be critical, means to criticize and oppose existing norms and traditions—thereby calling for their replacement with better norms and traditions in all aspects of life. To say the least, this is the main reason why other parts of the world are into cutting-edge technologies and progressive advancements in politics, economics and social dynamics; while Africa and Africans are still regarded as the dregs of the world. Destruction of opposing mentalities has been the bane of Africa from time-immemorial, and that is the main cause of the Blackman's dilemma and backwardness.

How do we develop from what is already existing, if nobody opposes its defects? How do we better our lot, if nobody contributes a contrary view to further perfect what we are already having or know? And how do we advance and develop mentally, materially and otherwise if we must only allow stone-age and pre-historic mentality to exist in the face of modernity that portends a fast-generating capacity of cutting-edge ideas and products (therein placing obstacles to old and archaic ways)?

In addition to the observed scenario in African societies, it could be rightly said, that Africans are not properly (emphasis: properly) developed mentally and materially, because individually, they believe that their ideas are the best and therefore should not be opposed and criticized. But we should at all time, be reminded that the cargo-mentality or warehouse-mentality or divine right of kings has died a due death in modern progressive times and societies. Bright, gifted and talented minds are suppressed in Africa, because the continents attitudes abhor these progressive tendencies. Mediocrity and backwardness has therefore come to take uncontestable control for a very long time now. That is our woes in Africa. While other parts of the world are quantifiably and “qualityly” developing as a result of their giving wide-room to opposing minds and cross-fertilization of ideas, Africa is degenerating fast because opponents of societal un-benefitting ideas (individually and collectively) are seen as enemies and many a time treated as such.

Indeed, when ideas, policies and actions held by those in the so-called corridors of power are antithetical to society's wellbeing, opponents to them are systematically annihilated. Indeed, contrary views are not tolerated and many a time, are maximally punished. The whole truth therefore, is that, this is Africa's undoing—opponents are seen and treated as enemies, even when these opponents have superior and better ideas that will surely uplift humanity. Furthermore, it is an incontestable fact that opposition to none benefitting and retrogressive ideas and actions against humanity cannot be stopped, no matter the diabolical methods used. This is a fact of History, especially as it posits and asserts that: any idea that its time has come, cannot be stopped by any known force. Let it also be known that opponents to established negative norms and traditions are simply used by Mother Nature to moderate the outcome(s) of human relationships and earthly existence for humanity. They should be tolerated, encouraged and listened-to, especially when their ideas and ideals are beneficial to humanity's upliftment.

(This paper was first written on 8th December, 1995; with my pen name {nom de plume} then: EKO Osuji)

Written by Ejike Kingsley Osuji.
[email protected] .

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