By: Esther Ojum
Many Africans are conditioned to believe ‘white is right’and it has had adverse effects to our societies. We need to lift each other up and nurture what we have been blessed with.
I was on Instagram the other day, and I came across a post on the confession of a French man traveling in West Africa. The man, Jean Michel, claims to have slept with 1,400 girls and got over 600 of them pregnant. The question is, how was this possible? The women would throw themselves at him because Michel had money and was white.
Now, what comes to mind when ‘The Western World’ is mentioned? Western Europe and North America? Powerful? Organized? Richer? Educated? Better? There are much more positive initial thoughts that come to mind. That is the problem. The Western World has been and is being romanticized as utopian by billions, in particular by those who do not reside in that area. It is an altered perspective that requires a prescription to remedy the rose-colored lens we use to see the west.
When my family returned to Nigeria from the USA, it was as though we had climbed the socio-economic ladder to the very top. People gave us rapt attention. If anyone wanted to challenge us, the defense that ‘my family came from America, so we knew best’ would sway the argument. People would flock to our house to take stuff that we had returned with. It got to the point where my mother would buy something from the local market, give it to someone and the person would go bonkers treating the item as gold because it is supposedly from the US; even if it is washing soap. At school, the teachers assumed I knew more than the other students because I got an ‘obodonyinbo’ (the white man’s) education.
My science teacher when I was in Nigeria, before he retired, he called me aside and spoke about Nigeria’s history of colonialism and another concept he called ‘indirect slavery.’ He mentioned that when the westerners came to take slaves, they would portray themselves as better than the indigenes. That image has remained over the generations. He said that in his day, Nigeria was a big, strong country that rightfully earned the title, “The Giant of Africa.” We had our way of doing things and valued our products and selves. Now, we want to be westernized; we want to improve. He told me to notice how the words “westernized,” “improve” and its synonyms are interchangeable. He continued, “We have become slaves to them unknowingly. I know you come from a respectable family and I don’t want you to turn out like the [others that returned from foreign countries] that felt like they are supreme, and all other Nigerians, everything Nigerian and anything that isn’t ‘obodonyinbo’ is crap”.
The African people developed an inferiority complex to those with lighter pigmentations during the slave trade. The whites lead more comfortable lives as the oppressors while our people suffered. It brought the mentality that ‘white is right.’ Africans began copying the western culture in hopes to escape the hardships placed on them. While that in itself is not wrong, the thinking behind it and the drastic measures the mentality causes our people to take is the issue.
It is this ‘white is right/better’ that made it easy for Michel to garner so many women and have the balls to say that he would be back for another sex tour. It is the same mentality that Prof. Bedford Umez talks about in his “‘Educated’ to feel inferior” video. Prof Umez gave told the story of how the Japanese man he was with on a flight to Nigeria was not searched by customs, but he was. We have been socialized to believe in foreigners and to put down our own. Why do companies hire foreigners over indigenes? Why do we assume that ‘expatriates’ are better off than we are? Why do we believe their word and cut them slack yet we are cruel to our blood who are in the same predicament or even worse off than we are? And to Nigerians, why is the oil that we destroy our land for, processed in foreign countries only to be repurchased at a higher price and then claim ‘fuel scarcity’?
Not every African possesses such a mentality but what do we do about the millions that do?
I suggest that African governments improve our educational systems. Our school curriculums should not be an incarnate of the Western world. It should teach us substance and not to ‘cram’ words into our heads. We should learn from our history and work to improve ourselves. For this to take place, our teachers need to be competent and creative to be able to nurture the minds of these young ones. These students will grow up to reach their full potential to excel in diverse areas of our society. It would also encourage parents not to send their children, the bright minds, abroad to aid a foreign society instead of ours. But, such teachers need their money’s worth. Most African leaders use their country’s money for their personal pleasure, thereby leaving little to nothing to the institutional anchors of our society such as education, health and family. We need to hold our leaders more accountable and encourage upright people to step up to lead our great nations.
Goals: 1. Invest in proper education
- Use our natural resources wisely
“Educated” to Feel Inferior by Prof. Umez https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEs-fEQ_wn4
Biography: I am an 18 year-old Nigerian girl studying at the University of Western Ontario and writing is a hobby of mine. I have spent majority of my life living in Europe and North America but after attending secondary school in Nigeria, I was able to compare and contrast my life with other Nigerians in Nigeria to understand. I do have a passion for my country, therefore most of my work is based on my experiences in the Giant of Africa.