I’m not one of those people who puts the blame of African nations on colonialism, especially a nation like Nigeria. So, I won’t look at our terrible education system or endless potholes and point in accusation at the white man, though there are correlations between those two but that is topic for another day. What I am saying is that our problems in Nigeria are, as they say, of a peculiar breed: terrorism, corruption, nepotism, bad leadership, wicked people. It’s funny in a sad and toxic way. I listed some these issues because for real, we need to own our shit.
However, there are some problems that colonialism has caused. One might even argue that the legacy of corruption in many institutions or premise of Biafra was a result of the white man protecting his interest. But let us leave these big issues that seem to either not concern us or seem to be staples from the past. I want to talk about one toxic consequence of colonialism, which is the cultural estrangement we have as a people. We think that something must be western for it to be woke. We have forgotten that before the white man came, our people had their ways of doing things, and that the idea of African barbarism was created to put Africans in the hierarchy of the inferior race. Of course, there are some benefits to western education, religion, culture, but does that mean that we should completely loose our distinct frame of reference? No.
If you are reading this and thinking: Haa, but this does not concern me na, here are five ways that you might be promoting toxic colonial mentality.
You Center English Language as The Only Language of Intelligence
Yes, I get that English is our official language, especially considering that Nigeria is a country with over 200 tribes. But this does not mean that anyone who does not speak English or speak it to a certain degree should be considered illiterate or less intelligent. This always plays out subtly in the way we treat our staff and colleagues that speak pidgin, or our relatives who speak only our native language. Just because you speak polished ‘Queen’s English’ does not mean you are any more intelligent or street smart.
You Think That Western Is Woke
It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that there are people who genuinely believe that once a thing is from abroad, it is somehow automatically better. Why buy Nasco when you can buy Kelloggs? Why shop local artisans when you can import from major stores in the U.S? I’m not trying to mess up your brand preferences or desire for quality control but ask yourself why it is that you instinctively dismiss anything made in Nigeria, even our movies. I’ll leave you with your answer.
You Believe Our Lifestyles Barbaric and Outdated
I won’t even lie, this one hit close to home. I was watching a so-called Instagram influencer who was teaching people dinning etiquette. According to her, the only way to eat food was with a fork and knife. She says that eating Eba with your hands was completely unacceptable because it shows that one is not defined. It pained me because people like this will not try to regulate how westerners eat Tacos, burgers, how Asians slurp down their noodles and soup. The ways that other people do things is always considered better than the way we do things here.
You Are Not Trying to Connect with Your Indigenous Culture
I know that many people were born in urban areas and grew up in city life. So, this is not to judge how much knowledge about yourself or your people that you had access to. But see, there is a place for Google and there is a place for sitting down with your aunties and uncles to ask questions. It hit me once when I realized I had been chasing down information about Chinese and Indian creative philosophies, their legends, and myths, without really knowing anything about my own culture. We were made out of stories too, so I decided I would start to pay attention to the things I had typically ignored.
These are my two cents. We might not have the resources to fight corruption and bad leadership, but we can play our own little part by taking pride in who we are.