We kill societies when we stifle individuals with petty bias

Watching a documentary on Nigeria recently was a reminder of the bound-up potential that exists in many African countries. It’s not the resources that are lacking or the ambition and resourcefulness of the people, because they are highly motivated for the most part. So the big question is: what is it that retards the growth? And why is it that a rich country, which is free, after almost half a century still has the vast majority living in relative poverty?

It could be understood if the quality of its oil or raw material was inferior and the country begged for market acceptance. But no, quite the reverse: Nigeria’s oil is the best in the world and it has untapped gases and mineral sources, a buoyant presence in world trade and many of their scholars are known to stand on the floors of debate halls in universities and intellectual circles arguing the proverbial house down because they have some of the smartest and highly educated persons on the planet.

So having a weak ego or lack of pride is not the issue, either, because they have tons of it — with some to spare.

Perhaps we can look at the term egalitarianism or that state or goal of having a political state where all persons are considered as equally entitled to certain excesses and freedoms to participate. Then we begin to see the hidden demons unfolding such as tribalism, religious bias, social class or political party affiliation and elitism, ie, ruling intelligencia class, etc. Then we see how a powerful country can be crippled and held down by a quagmire of social conflict by not having an effective system of upward mobility that frees its people from themselves and rewards effort.

I have heard it said and, in fact, have published the similar opinion that posits the position that the entire African continent and diaspora’s emergence as a real power is waiting for one country to become a shining example. Many of the African countries have an average age of approximately 20 years and constitute the largest body of youth in the world. It means the entire continent is impressionable and whatever stands up and works will easily become the model influence.

Many of the regimes are built on the old rhetoric of the liberation years and have not moved too far beyond that era. A new world cannot be built from the old rhetoric — 50-plus years have proven it. The old slogans were meant for an old era; it is time for a new vision and new form of activism, one that embraces reason, and stimulates entrepreneurship and creativity.

Many of the old demons that cause societies to act like crabs in a barrel must be broken. Just as one nation can free a whole world of nations, one man’s freedom can liberate an entire society. That liberty we afford each other is the oil through which society as a whole swims. We kill society when we stifle individuals for no reason other than petty bias. The kid has a great idea but he doesn’t belong to a social subgroup or clique, or is a member of the wrong party or church, so progress gets flushed down the drain.

The old saying is to keep a good man down you have to stay down with him. Unfortunately, that becomes a societal reality.

How many souls have cried out, like the song says, “Please release me and let me go”? How many souls are still waiting to exhale and shout, “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, I am free at last”?

Can we be that nation that makes a difference? We have the opportunity and our size is no impediment.

The Royal Gazette
We kill societies when we stifle individuals with petty bias We kill societies when we stifle individuals with petty bias Reviewed by Nene Sochi-Okereke on Friday, 27 October 2017 Rating: 5

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