Recently, young boys were observed tearing the uniforms of girls; school girls, and also holding their private parts at them, because they were excited about finishing up their Senior Secondary School exams. Oh yes, right in the heart of Lagos! The girls were dodging and hiding! And guess what? Police officers were close by. Passers-by were laughing and passing. Well, it’s not their kids, so what the heck! Then someone saw it and confronted the boys to stop them, and they ran. Through further investigations, it was discovered that they had started like two days earlier. Such is the culture we are in, in our society! A culture of hyper-sexuality, heightened sense of sexual awareness and public sexual display garnished with loads of globally recognized sexual ignorance, worse in Africa, and much worse with Nigeria, considering our population and the educational decadence.
What do you think made us this hyper-sexual, to the extent of not having the strength in our conscience to tell the boys to stop that nonsense for two days? What do you think made us this hyper-sexual, that the girls could not say, this is wrong and we must report this to the school authorities tomorrow? What do you think made us this hyper-sexual, that the boys do not know that, it is demeaning, wicked, stupid and criminal to do such! The problem is not with our stars, it is with our minds. Our minds have seen so much nakedness in music videos, everywhere! Heard so much lewdness and nudity and profanity (even at Children Christmas’ parties) that it sees nothing in ‘naking that girl apako’. Let me give an instance, If you watch a movie once and it made you cry, would you cry the same way if you repeat the movie twice or thrice? No! That’s the power of familiarity, of exposure. We have celebrated, promoted a hyper-sexual conscience via sexually laden entertainment, such that our minds are becoming used to it.
Now, are these things not in the US or Canada or UK. Yes, they are! But do they make it the one and only thing in the faces of young people; is that all they promote in public cycles? In the 1970s, the US Presidency realized that the Stupidity Quotient (SQ) of Americans was getting higher, so they researched, and they discovered that the movies Americans watched had that influence on them. The Presidency decided to have series of meeting with Hollywood and came up with plans to use movies to promote patriotism, science, and science fiction. After a short while, it is no surprise that some of the things in those movies such as flying cars, electric cars, are now being invented in the United States. This is a call to use entertainment for public good, whilst we make money in Nigeria.
Even most Nigerian companies are culprits to increasing our stupidity quotient! Using their Corporate Social Responsibility budgets for shows and shows, with little or no educational program. The Government doesn’t care either! So are the companies! So are parents! The days of ‘Speak-Out’ is gone! But for how long would we be an entertaining country (with people without real purchasing power or skills or morals), instead of an enterprising country. Why not promote agriculture as entertaining? Why not promoting Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering, Maths (STEAM) as entertaining? Haven’t you observed that anytime there is a major concert or show, mostly foreign experts install the stage, sound, lighting etc! Why not build skills in these areas around the business rather than young people seeking to sing or dance or rack a joke, and let’s export such technical skills outside Nigeria, for foreign earnings! Look at Clarence Peters – he doesn’t sing or dance but produces videos and he is rich and comfortable! Why not diversify skills in the industry! Why not make community service entertaining! Why not start Fellowship programs at the national level that brings together young community leaders for some weeks of internship at the National Assembly or in Aso Rock! Why not do a Civil Service Fellowship program, where innovative bright minds contribute a few months with the Civic Service both at local, state, and federal levels to learn from experience about policy making and bring some innovation into governance!
Like Fela said, suffering and smiling! According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), over 4 million this year alone joined the tens of millions of jobless Nigerians, who stand in the morning to argue over news items at Newspaper stands (“beer parlour argument”) or stand in the afternoon at the Betting stations or sit in the evening at viewing centres, whether there is a match or NOT. During those times, Zuckerberg has raked in millions from his businesses or even Bill Gates! How can we compete, when what we promote isn’t contextually relevant to a major need? How can we compete, when we have professionalized in majoring in minor, and becoming a minor in our major? Isn’t this the tale of Africa?
In addition to the entertainment-driven sexual buzz, we have a general hyper buzz everywhere! See the entrepreneurship buzz. Oh, yes, entrepreneurship. You see when I see most entrepreneurs, I see mostly struggling sole proprietors, who are not meeting real needs but for a lack of job, join the entrepreneurship buzz! “I am CEO!” That is quite great but how useful! A survey of Europe and Africa revealed that businesses in Africa are partly created out of survival or necessity to survive, but businesses in Europe are birthed from opportunity, from a need in the society. Perhaps, that explains why more than 89% of businesses here fail in the first years. Entrepreneurship requires more than a need to survive, it requires skills, it requires capital, it requires tact, it requires teamwork, most of which are lacking.
Anyways, the point here is that the buzz after entrepreneurship emphasizes too much on creating your business, but is that what we really need? A teacher runs a shop, extorts students to sell books at school, sell shoes and bags in church, etc, all in a bid to survive. Whereas to succeed that teacher only needs to be an enterprising teacher. By enterprising I mean, you use what you have to solve problems and with increased solution comes value, and increased values attract wealth. If you are a maths teacher, and you are good at solving the worst students’ maths problems; these might then lead you to develop a solution for solving difficult math problems in your community and globally. That is enterprise! For example, Muhammad Yunus, an Economists, focused on using his knowledge in developing an economic model that helped the poor in Bangladesh; these birthed micro-finance banks, which we now copy.
These kinds of buzz goes into our conversations. For example, we spend time discussing tithe, whereas the core issues of political participation at the wards, of national budgets, of who to hold responsible for fuel scarcity, are not discussed. If you want to know how intelligent a people are, take stock of what they check on the news. Now with Google, if you want to know how engaging a nation’s people are, check what the trends are on Google – ‘Bobrisky’. Recently, Davido and Wizkid got an award. And as usual, our “leaders”, who should be dealers in hope lashed unto it on Twitter congratulating them. Nice but wait a bit! How many young Nigerians who regularly make us proud have you name-called in recent times? Debola spoke at #ObamaSummit, you didn’t say anything. Mandela Washington Fellows were invited since 2014 to the white house for their work, you didn’t name call them. And later, you will pay lip service to education and community work, whereas you forget that ‘what you promote is what becomes popular’. A young lady had first class in University and Law School, you haven’t said anything to encourage girls that they can do more! That is to mention a few. I would expect that as they mentioned Davido and Wizkid’s award, they also go further to state that it is important for young people to know that they can be innovators, scientists, enterprising Nigerian from where they are. That is foresight, that is leadership!
If we don’t make policies that get things right, our future scientists and engineers and inventors and policy leaders will be whisked away by the glamorous wind of music and laughter – whereas there is a place for that in a society. We are in a crises and we are dancing and laughing our lives away. Things fall apart, and the center cannot hold water, soon it will explode in our faces.
-Timi Olagunju, is technology lawyer and design thinking consultant. Reach him on [email protected] or www.voteTimi.com