Theorising Nigerian Hatred

Let me begin with a quote by George Washington Carver. He wrote that “Fear of something is at the root of hate for others, and hate within will eventually destroy the hater.” Since most calls for secession in Nigeria are linked to hatred of one tribe or region for the other, Carver’s theory stipulates that Nigerians are afraid of something; something so fearsome as to trigger vitriolic hatred. 

After posting the parent article, I had interactions with some persons about the article’s content. One person with whom I discussed made some statements that struck a chord and made me decide to write this rejoinder, which is more of a deeper look at one of the highlighted issues. This person used a polygamous family to explain the prevalent hatred in Nigeria.

In his words:

“Great grandpa has four wives and thirty-one children…. Great grandpa dies and leaves five houses for them all…

Remember that due to the large number of children, great grandpa does not have the time and strength to raise each of them in a godly way.

So, the kids fight each other for their father’s property, and the preachers in the churches and mosques will instigate the fighting by not telling them the truth…

If you can fight and kill your brother because you suspect that he is not sharing your father’s wealth properly, how much more will you not do to people who are not related to you but are sharing your father’s (Nigeria’s) wealth and resources.

And then when the children of warring wives and siblings try to relate with each other, their parents will discourage them, telling them that they and their relatives are not the same and have different cultures”

Can you relate the Nigerian situation to the polygamous family described above? Why are siblings willing to kill themselves over their father’s lands and houses? At face value, an average Nigerian would say it is because they want to prevent oppression by the other party. However, this is merely a nicely packaged excuse. It’s not about oppression but about access to resources. All things being equal, if a person already had lands and houses, or was certain of being able to acquire such in future, such a person would see no need to fight over old houses left by a late father.

Looking at the Nigerian situation, I would say that the fear of poverty is the root of the hatred and fighting. It is also the primary driver for corruption. It doesn’t matter how many billions of naira people have in their bank accounts or hidden in septic tanks, they are still driven by a subconscious fear of poverty or resource unavailability to steal more. If such theft requires spreading hatred by playing the ethnic or religious card, so be it. The same goes for people at the lower rungs of the society who see the “other tribe” as the reason for their lack of development opportunities.

What could the great grandpa above have done to avoid warfare among siblings and wives? Maybe if he had sired children commensurate with his properties, there would be no need for a fight. Better still, if the “sufficiently sired” children had been groomed to be independent, to want to create their own empires from their own hard work, they would not feel entitled to fight over their father’s assets. Also, maybe if while alive the patriarch had skipped the favouritism that plays out in many polygamous families, the children and wives would not have developed entrenched hatred for each other’s successes. Maybe if the patriarch had left an equitable will clearly outlining who gets what and how the assets should be distributed, no one would fight since the law is clear on the execution of wills.

Let’s bring this home to Nigeria. The “maybes” in the preceding paragraph are applicable in the Nigerian context. We spend time arguing about the entrenched hatred among Nigerians without looking at the fuel driving the hatred across generations of Nigerians. I’ll end with a quote by Matt Austin: “We are really just shuffling the problem around as opposed to dealing with the root cause.” Maybe if Nigeria had a social safety net and every Nigerian had access to development opportunities, hatred would cease.

Image Credit: thesituationist.wordpress.com

4 thoughts on “Theorising Nigerian Hatred”

  1. A productive Nigeria is the best safety net we can have. When people are working, and when they are sure that they can get results commensurate with their efforts, they won’t waste their time fighting amongst themselves. Until that happens, the politicians will continue to play the people against one another.
    The politicians, however, forget that the system they’re creating will eventually consume them too.

    Another great writeup from Jonah.


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