Article by Glory Ayara
It is often assumed that being black inherently indicates ignorance, an unwillingness to acquire knowledge. A popular saying, one I heard quite often when growing up was: “if you want to hide from an African hide it in a book”. Truthfully, this has led many Nigerians to associate illiteracy with everything disassociated with the western way of life. Without a doubt, this has done nothing but attempt to unfortunately graft, some individual in becoming a white man in a black man’s sleeve, leading to a vast majority of Nigerians/Africans, lacking an identity.
“If you want to hide from an African, hide it in a book”
It is essential to note how challenging it is to grow and evolve out of the form of oppression we underwent in the hands of the ancestral privileged whites, this has done nothing but taken an entire race through a disadvantage loop, muting our voice in the world shaping process, hence, arguably a difficulty in fitting in.
Majority of the political systems in the continent i.e. Africa have so far been disappointing, largely due to issues of greed and incompetency and a poor level of accountability to themselves and to the citizens.This in my opinion raises an important issue; a streak of unsuccessful attempts to emulate the white man’s way of life. Pidgin, a language mined and manipulated from English, despite its intriguing nature, is regarded as illiterate by more than half of Nigerians, this I regard as embarrassing, as with this mindset, we send across the a rather disturbing message, which is; if it isn’t the western way of life, it is point blank, illiteracy.
Nevertheless, our traditional components are, as it is well known, tantalizing, for example, our traditional meals which are mostly disassociated with meals from other parts of the world, and unique in every right, are packed with nutrients and flavour. Our languages, although quite difficult, is music to the ears, our contemporary music, and dance have successfully, more so in this 21st century, influenced the world at large. Our accent, which we dread and suddenly see the need to change or magically transform, has a commanding essence to it, but yet again, many carry on with the mindset that if it isn’t like the western worlds, it straight up, forgive my tone, ‘bullshit’!
What am I trying to communicate amidst all these points? Our unfiltered “antiquated traditions” have subconsciously, over the years, been regarded as disgusting, but we fail to notice that these traditions are actually our one ticket in sowing ourselves into the consistent world development process. Yes, some of the white colonisers arguably, had sane intentions on coming into the continent and helped curb some of the harmful practices. However in the long run of its impact, this has had an adverse effect on encroaching some of our golden practices, practices which are now quickly dying out today. This has subsequently resulted in a more troubling issue; an ignorance on ourselves, and a subconscious disregard and contempt towards our people and selves.
If we could learn as a people to educate ourselves on some of these and not inadvertently associate with preys, it will significantly contribute in creating a hybrid world, where we instead of feeling like mildly welcomed aliens on this ball of dirt, we will feel instead like kids, experimenting in our own playground.
So yes, our ignorance is bliss, not for us, but for the privileged white males, who dread observing the development of a super-state Wakanda.
Contributor: Glory Ayara is a final year law student at the University of Leeds.