Nigeria: the colonial mentality remains very strong

mental slavery

According to the Wikipedia entry, a colonial mentality refers to the acceptance, by the colonized, of the culture or doctrines of the colonizer as intrinsically more worthy or superior. Colonial mentality still plagues us as a people donkey years after Independence and despite all our knowledge and education. Why else do we import and adopt Western systems wholesale and throw away our heritage, as if there was never anything good in our history and our systems?

Take wedding ceremonies for example. We conduct two – sometimes three – separate full-blown wedding ceremonies because in our minds, until we do the “church”ceremony, we are not wedded yet. So, sometimes we do the registry thing. Then we do what we have renamed “engagement” (which is actually the proper wedding ceremony according to our heritage), and then, we get married a third time at the church. Mind-boggling. It is us church folks that amuse me the most. As far as the bible is concerned, there is no such thing as a “church wedding”. Our “engagement” ceremonies is the pattern that we see in the Bible – and that was God joining them together. But we must have them. Because colonial mentality.

Beyond the wedding ceremony, again we ditch all the values and structures of marriage that our heritage provided and adopt western norms wholesale. Because those must be better, even when the results speak otherwise.

In politics too, we seek to implement democracy as defined by the US and other Western nations. Yet, we forget that the US grew and evolved their own democracy different from the British and French forms that they have proceeded from. What would be so difficult in growing our own strain of democracy based on our peculiarities as a nation?

Despite our often intensely hot weather, we slap on shirts, ties and suits in a bid to impress. It is Western style dressing and it must be good for us. We forget that such heavily layered forms of dressing was evolved by them to deal with their often cold weather. It is amusing that when the same Westerners visit us here, they ditch the ties and suits and wear something much lighter to deal with our hot weather.

Perhaps at the forefront of being creative and unique in not throwing away all our heritage is the entertainment industry. To a large extent, our music has held its own and refused to be swallowed up by Western style music. But guess what? We complain and gripe about it. Because if it is not Western style, it must be inferior.

If our education is not “Montessori”, then it is not good enough either. It matters not that such a system might not be optimal for our environment and people. We are not a nation of innovators and thinkers. We are a nation of follow-follow. We diss bloggers for the copy and paste trend, conveniently forgetting that as a nation, copy and paste is what we do. Since 1960.

Small wonder that we have made very little real progress in 54 years. I have no issues with Western systems. Those systems work for them because they were developed for them. They built solutions tailored to their peculiar situations. But we? We mostly lift.

Why must we always import and adopt? Why must we keep copying? Why are we so unable to evolve and adapt? We are plagued by a bad strain of colonial mentality and we do not know it. We are still very much enslaved, and it is a slavery far worse than the physical shackles of chains and bolts.

One Response

  1. Eye_Bee_Kay October 16, 2014

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