The Problem with Nigeria – Killing the father figure as the beginning of a countercultural revolution

« You
were told by the Zarathustra of old, lo, I teach you the Superman:
he is that lightning, he is that frenzy! but I say to you, lo, I teach you the
Oedipus: he is that father killer, the ideal counterculture hero that you lack
most. But hope not that he has come to marry his mum, for she is the next target
on his list.

»

The Father figureIn my last publication, I affirmed that « religion is the real problem of Nigeria ». And during a Facebook discussion on the topic, a
friend, Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso,
raised an issue that has preoccupied my mind for a very long time. He
said,

« I do think
that we have a lot to talk in the case about our upbringing, the father figure
whom we deem to be absolutely infallible. I think we end up as grown-ups
see this unchallenged father figure in whatever authority is above us, that they
are always right. I think if we need radical critical minds, we should foremost
change and challenge the toxic patriarch structure of Nigeria. »

This was, to me, like an epiphany. And like a
revelation and an inspiration, all together, the observation appeared. And thus,
I decided to continue to attack this system called Nigeria. Note that I have not
changed my point of view on the toxic effects of religion as it is practised
in Nigeria. On the contrary, my attack on the cult of the father figure is also
an attack on the religion.

The father figure is not just a concept but a reality.
It is generally said that young girls admire their fathers and boys, their
mother but no one says that both are shaped, nay, are disfigured by him. But our
preoccupation here is not just a psychological aspect of the child-father
relationship. It is rather, its sociological aspect in the Nigerian
context. It is primordial to explain that Nigeria is generally a patriarchal
society where the whole family and community life rotate around the father or
better said, around the male A
lphas,
to apply a controversial ethological
term.

Time of changeThe problem of growing up in a society like ours, where
the father figure is sacred, is that you would always end up either loving your
dad so much or hating him so strongly
that it affects your future, undoubtedly, in a significant way. If you
over-idealise him, you will end up
having issues with any paternal figure who does not act exactly like him. But if
you detest him, you will hate with passion anyone in the position of authority.

The dominant father figure in Nigeria is the
authoritative one. Those are the fathers who turn their family into a military
barracks. They instil a very strong fear
in their children that they grow up never contradicting any authority. The worst
is that it is a social norm. The major problem might be because Nigerian men get
married generally late and have
developed a generational gap already by the time the child starts
growing up. Our men are also too busy and to make up for
their regular absence or less parental presence in the life of their children,
create a ghost that rules the family, even in their absence. It is just enough
for the mother to tell the child that he will be informing the father of his or
her misconduct for the child to redress him or herself. This means that before a
child comes to the age of reasoning, he or she must have developed a
pathological fear of his dad which makes it impossible for the child to have an
independence almost all his or her life.

Father figures, it is necessary to say, go beyond the
biological setup. In average Nigerian social setup, a child is never allowed to contradict
an adult, even when the adult is wrong. ‘Children do not speak in public,’ they
will always remind them. Father figures are also so present in our institutions
that teachers are always right and religious leaders infallible. To these forms
of father figures, I will come back in
the future.

It is sufficed to say that the adage, ‘youths are the
future of tomorrow’ has no sense in Nigeria as youths never have, strictly
speaking, any real opportunity in the planning of their tomorrow. And because of
these facts, even as adults, we never have the courage to challenge the
authority because the fathers are always right.

It is, therefore, time that we kill the father figure, not by
degrading the adults, but by having our say in the preparation of our future.
Brief, though “You
were told by the Zarathustra of old, lo, I teach you the Superman: he is that
lightning, he is that frenzy! I say to you, lo, I teach you the Oedipus: he is
that father killer, the ideal counterculture hero that you lack most. But hope
not that he has come to marry his mum, for she is the next target on
his list.

Ali C. Nnaemeka (mekaalison@gmail.com)
The truth might be hard to
say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be
said
. Alisonomi

Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I

Writer & Blogger

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