The book “Boko Haram and Its Suicide Squad (The Confession of a Jihadist)” by Adrian Davison, though, a fictional work, shed some light on the grudge of Boko Haram. According to the book, one of the things Boko Haram wanted to achieve was to fully implement their own interpretation of the Sharia Law and do away with the negative influences of the West on Africa (and Nigeria in particular). It further revealed that the sect believed that Western influence was responsible for underdevelopment and diseases ravaging Africa. The West or the colonial masters were alleged to be the genesis of corruption and other atrocities being committed in Africa. In other words, they planted their seed of greed and bad ways of life in Africans.
Their culture of sleeping with animals was what brought about HIV and AIDS that has continued to ravage the African continent. The negative fashion of the West in dressing in such a manner that exposes parts of the body meant to be covered has spread across the continent with its attendant consequences. Furthermore, homosexuality is gradually becoming part of African society with some countries now recognising the rights of homosexuals. When God created man, He saw that he was lonely and decided to create woman. Today, man is telling the Creator that he made a mistake and that there is nothing wrong if a man goes after another man and likewise a woman going after another woman for sexual satisfaction. Black Africans are now telling God that He made mistakes by making their skin colour black instead of white, therefore they are correcting Him by bleaching the colour of their skin.
While it is true that the culture of the colonial masters that many of our young and old continue to copy is affecting us negatively, it would be wrong to wholly blame them for our underdevelopment. Surprisingly, even many of our intellectuals also partly blame the colonial masters. According to Dare Arowolo of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Adekunle Ajasin University, in his paper titled “The Effects of Western Civilisation and Culture on Africa,” he said Western civilisation and culture precariously contaminated the traditional values of Africa and that Africa had established well before the advent of colonialism. Also, that Africa had a pattern of home-grown political systems, governance process and generally acceptable institutional rule-making arrangement, such that there was progression in the pace of civilisation of Africa and self-styled tempo of technology development”. It further submitted that “The dynamism and significance of Africa on the global continuum tends to support the argument that Africa would have evolved and sustained level of development and civilization without the retrogressive contact with imperial forces.” It may be unnecessary to contest the argument put forward in the paper, but it would be logical to ask why Africa still cannot find its bearing many years after the colonial masters left? It is still ravaged by various forms of crises that no doubt are the root of hunger and underdevelopment in the land. Rather than shift the blame to outside influence, we should blame ourselves for copying the negative culture of the West instead of positive ones, and blame our visionless leaders for their inability to reverse the negativities of the Western world and come up with suitable solution to the various challenges confronting the continent.
In the case of Nigeria, these challenges could be traced to the era of our great nationalists: Sir Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikwe and Obafemi Awolowo. Though people of my generation were not around during the era of these great men, and our knowledge about them is limited to only what history told us, they were men who loved their people - no doubt. In the regions where they reigned, they laid the foundation of whatever development being enjoyed in those places. But then, history also recorded that there was love lost between these great men. Their politics was along ethnic lines and the constant bickering and suspicion between them could be said to be the foundation of ethnic strife in Nigeria. They will always take the credit for independence but soon after it was granted, our nationalists could not maintain the “interethnic peace” which had been enforced by the colonial overlord. The elites who had commanded popular support before independence had to demonstrate their continuing legitimacy, and in competing against other parties, they could not resist the temptation of appealing to ethnic, linguistic and religious loyalties.
Many years after independence, most African leaders including those in Nigeria, run to the West, the same people blamed for our underdevelopment, for solutions to our problems. Our leaders try to apply the prescription given by the West, which probably was based on the experience of their own nation, to our national challenges without considering the differences in societies. Most Western nations have a highly educated population, a sizeable middle class, and life in those nations is not about fighting for basic needs of life for survival. This is not the case with most African countries, where literacy level is still low, you are either rich or poor and the less privileged among us still live on less than a dollar per day. Certainly, their prescriptions are bound to fail under these circumstances.
As Nigeria navigates another general election, our leaders must show their creativity, and prove that they are not only mentally and intellectually strong like the colonial masters, but also have the political will to do the needful to move our nation forward. They must prove to the world that we are a sovereign nation and not sell us to the West in a manner that made us inferior like a former Nigerian leader did when he visited the then president of United States, President George Bush in White House, and said “I count myself lucky to be here, it is a day I would never forget in my life.”
Shola Olayiwola is a freelance writer. He loves to write and defend the course of his country.