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Friday, 25 February 2011

The African, when he is a child, is mostly being groomed for conformity, first, by her/ his parents, then her/his relatives, and finally the society.

Hello!!

I engage in a lot of political debates on and offline and its obvious that the wind of change blowing in North Africa has made a huge impact on how we, as individuals, analyse current affairs. Certain illusions have been shattered. It has also made some of us more aware of the power of information, media, positive networking and the power of citizens. Some of us are aware of how long African leaders generally cling on to political powers, but for those who may not know, here is a snap shot:

Ben Ali of Tunisia - 23 years - 1988 - 2011................fallen

Hosni Mubarak of Egypt - 30 years - since 1981.........fallen

Moummar Ghaddfi of Libya - 42 years - since 1969

Mbasago of Equatorial Guinea - 32 years - since 1979

Jose Santos of Angola - 32 years - since 1979

Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe - 31 years - since 1980

Paul Biya of Cameroon - 29 years - since 1982

Yoweri Museveni of Uganda - 25 years - since 1986

Blaise Campore of Burkina Fasso - 24 years since 1987

Mswati III of Swaziland - 24 years - since April 1986

Omar Bashir of Sudan - 21 years - since 1989

Idrissu Deby of Chad - 21 years - since 1990

Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea - 18 years - since 1993

Yahya Jammeh of Gambia - 17 years - since 1994

Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia - 16 years - since 1995

Pakalitha Mosisili (Lesotho) - 13 years - since 1998;

Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti - 12 years - since 1999

Mohammed VI of Morocco - 12 years - since 1999

Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast - 11 years+ - since 2000

Abdoulaye Wade (Senegal) - 11 years - since 2000

Paul Kagame (Rwanda) - 11 years - since 2000



Today's guest writer looks at one of the reasons why such leaders are 'enabled' to hold on to their office for so long. ENJOY!



Many people here constantly talk of the white man's ills, by blaming him on almost everything. African dictators are said to have been placed on power by the white man, hunger is caused by the white man, disease, also by the white man. Destruction, slavery and wars, once again, are caused by the white man. But does any African ever think that he/she is partly responsible for his own demise? There are corrupt dictators everywhere in Africa, but how many actually seek to examine their own cultures and see how these dictators are cultivated?

The African, when he is a child, is mostly being groomed for conformity, first, by his parents, then his relatives, and finally the society.
From when he is young, the African child is forced to obey his parents. His dad is his god, his mom, next in command to the god. Each of his movements are watched, and his actions are carefully scrutinized. Every unruly act is punishable by canning, and sometimes by depriving of the basic necessities. So the African child learns early in life that brute force is necessary, in order to achieve civility.

The African child also never questions, because every question can be misconstrued as as a gesture of an on-coming audacious behaviour. If he asks his parents questions that they are not able to answer, they will lie to him. If they can answer the question, but think that the answer may be too lewd, they will scold him and send him to his room, or worse, cane him. So the African child learns early on in life, that questions are not to be asked, unless absolutely necessary.

The African child's interactions with other adults who visit the home is also carefully controlled, lest he becomes naughty out of his own curiosity. All the adults are introduced either as Aunty that, or Uncle that. Those Aunties or Uncles holding lots of political or academic power, are introduced carefully, and presented as demigods. So the child knows right away that titles are to be respected, that all adults are to be respected without question. After greeting visitors, the African child is told to go outside right away and play, lest he disturbs these honourable sirs and madams with questions they may not like.

Going on to school, the African child learns even bigger lessons of conformity. his classes are highly structured, his games are carefully planned and just like Pavlov's dog, he is reminded of these by the bells that are rung at certain times. He is also exposed to other superiors called prefects. These prefects are often the eyes and ears of the teachers and the principle. Disobedient behaviour, will be aptly punished by these prefects, and if they take you to the teachers, it gets even worse. So obedience is the order of the day. Because of this extreme obedience, the free interaction of teachers and student is often reduced to fear. In very few instances does a child ever get away with defiant behaviour in an African school. With the kind of rigor that is present in African schools, its highly unlikly that there will be any time for asking meaningful questions, and developing a proper student teacher relationship, or even creativity.

Anyways, by the time the African child is now an adult and has graduated from college, he has learnt important lessons in conformity. He now respects every person with a higher title than him. He will treat a Doctor, or a PHD guy like a demigod. He will kiss and lick the hands of any millionaire. If he ever gets in touch with a white man, he will treat him better than his fellow African, because of course the white man lives in heaven, and thus carries with him his heavenly goods. Any politician this African may meet, he will regard as a god, because he has been taught to respect titles. He will not ask questions, because again, he has learnt not to ask any, lest he gets in trouble. So this man becomes a slave to his own fear.

The only Africans who ever emerge out of this vicious cycle of conformity, are the square pegs in round holes. The ones who were free from childhood. The ones who mastered their fear by going against the norm. These ones often become the leaders of the sheeple, whether good or bad. Some of them become great politicians fighting for the people's rights, some become tyrants. Those who become tyrants are often times used to not being questioned. They are used to living in a society where fear reigns. Where titles are respected, etc.

It is for this reason why, a politician in Africa can get away from murdering a couple of thousands of the citizens, while one from the west can hardly get away from getting a blow job in the office. It is also for this reason why several Kenyan politicians who have embezzled millions in the golden-berg scandal, will still stay in office, while one in the west will be forced to resign. Africans simply will not question. They will seek the least resistant way possible. This has to change. The culture has to change.

If we contrast the African child's behaviour, with that one who has been raised in the west, we notice a few things;

The western child is shockingly honest. He mentions exactly how he feels like, asks for what he wants, not what his parents thinks he wants, and he questions anything and everything his mind desires. The African child on the other hand, is dishonest. He doesn't mention anything that may make an adult angry, or that may get him in trouble. He has been taught to conceal thoughts of curiosity from early on, so he is timid and never questions when given a command.

The difference in behviour of these children comes about because their parents treat them differently. In the west, parents hardly cane their children. They scold them, and explain to them why they are being sent to their room as punishment. The African child on the other hand, gets a good beating if defiant behaviour is discovered. So, you may say, doesn't this make the westernized child more spoilt? Yes it does in a sense, but the Westernized child learns an important lesson - brute force does not get you obedience. The African child learns that brute force keeps you aligned and reason is not good. So you can imagine how an African dictator will act? By brute force,and not by reasoning.

p/s you are free to use words such as uncle tom, sell-out, bad african, etc to describe me.

O.O

My thoughts: The above piece, titled 'How Africans prepare themselves for conformity' was written by today's featured author, the brilliant non conformist, Oketa Otira.

(will give you sweets if you click 'like' he he he ;)



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29 comments:

Ibhade {NG} said...

......as the women are also groomed to conform to the whims of men!...*sigh!*

nevertheless, every thing in life has it's advantage & disadvantage..
the western children hardly have 'respect' for their parents..look at the case of the 9ja boy who lied against his mother becox she sent him back to nigeria to get some discipline!

Ade Moss's son said...

Conformity is not a bad thing. What's wrong was the authoritarian nature most Nigerian adopt to instill conformity. I totally agree with the way you described parents treat their children. I believe it was one of the causes of African Infant Precocity. I once asked an 'adult' why people were dumb and he replied, "Because they talked too much and used up all their words" just to make me shut up. But parenting no easy.

Mena UkodoisReady said...

Ibhade: I understand what you mean, totally, I am an African but still you have to look at the state of our continent. All this yes sir, no sir, 3 bags full sir, have gotten us nowhere. We respect according to office yet we look down on people who dont have a name or title, completely underestimating their relevance. It is one thing that is simply not done in the west. Every opinion is welcome, every idea is listened at least listened to.

@ Ade Moss, per your views on conformity. Imagine that dumb answer. And thats how we carry these ignorant views to adulthood. With superstitions and lies being the order of the day. I kinda prefer wild cards, the one who question events. When, why how, where. Those are the signs of one who seeks enlightment.

Mena UkodoisReady said...

‎"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, dis...agree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Anonymous said...

western children conform to the rules of their society too. we can sit for hours and also write out why western children are not better too. the grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side.

Anonymous said...

Having lived for a decade in the West, I would rather my kids conformed the african way than what I find here (both the conformity and the non-conformist).

p.s. I am 27

Prism of an immigrant said...

True talk

Myne Whitman said...

The truth is that in this world, and even in the west, the society remains stronger than the individual. Some of us break out, but the vast majority of people learn to or have to conform at one time or the other. It's terrible where our own conformity is leading us to, and I pray some of these recent revolutions trickle down.

Prism of an immigrant said...

Temi of musings of a caramel latte addict talked about this and she gave a good example of how all the children who come to make a request in Father christmas' grotto always repeat the same phrases of "I want to make a request to my mommy and daddy, Mr and Mrs ....." No one dares to stray from what is known and "accepted"

henry said...

The author is right,that the African child is groomed for a life of conformity.But,the same is true of the Arab or Asian child.And Arab and Asian societies are also inflicted,until recently, with the same disease of 'life-president'.
The difference is that,unlike African rulers,Asian and Arab dictators re patriotic enough to develop their countries.At heart,the African is a mere indigene,not citizen.And the African ruler is a mere patriarch.This post explains more.

http://henryik2009.wordpress.com/?s=prebendalism

Olori said...

I used to be one of those no-nonsense, dictatorial seniors in secondary school so when I started tutoring elementary school kids here I was scared that I may be pushed to give one a dirty slap.....but so far so good though. I can relate to our conformist behaviour stifling creativity, opportunities and learning too. It is still a struggle for me to have the student-teacher relationship with my professors but those who have these relationships can testify to the opportunities that have opened up for them and all other knowledge they have acquired over lunch with professor smith (in 9ja dem no born u well to take teacher out)

http://olori-beautiful.blogspot.com

Wise Sage said...

When i first started reading this post i was very tempted to agree with the non-conformist (as i try to be most often) but then again i do not agree with his "absolutes" theory. There are advantages to the African mode of upbringing as there are advantages to the western mode upbringing but neither of these is an absolute. The important thing is being able to strike the right balance which most of us lose early on. Now until we are able to figure out that particular 'point of gravity' that can keep us grounded while striving to achieve full of human character i'm afraid we're in a lot worse.

Anonymous said...

I see what this writer is trying to say....But respectfully disagree on most of your points...Evry society conforms in their own way depending on the culture of the people and anyone who does not conform is viewed as an outcast!Hence the so called melting pot that is America...I am a school teacher in the states and i can see the destuction going to befall the west in a few years because of how they bring up their kids...so i don't know what you are talking about. A world changer is a world changer despite the culture he is raised in...Personally the reasons why Africans are stagnant is because of our history of oppression....we were under colonial rule forever and then when the power was taken by our people it was given to people who want to rule like the white man and thus oppressed their own people...fear through oppression is the cause not fear through conformist behavior because every society conforms!

henry said...

I agree with "anonymous" that every society conforms.The question is, "what do you conform to?" I think the author is saying that the African child,is groomed to conform to a culture of 'sheepish-followership' which makes him/her,politically apathetic;this contrasts with the Western child,raised to question everything,whether political,social,economic or metaphysical.In other words,a culture of conformity to 'non-conformity'. That is the difference.

Http://henryik2009.wordpress.com.

Oketa said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. I would love to answer any questions any of you may have regarding this.

Oketa said...

NOTE: I am not saying westerners are not conformed. They are as conformed as Africans are, if not more. Western conformity is established by their government(through the corporations), often covertly. They prepare the sheeple for conformity, through the media, the schools and certain liberal groups. If you watch western TV stations more carefully, you will start noticing the trend.
Their news stations are often full of propaganda, all designed to shape public opinion. If an important bill is being passed in parliament, and the government doesn't want the people to know, all the mainstream news stations would start showing useless celebrity news for an extended period of time. If a pharmaceutical company wants to sell some of its meds, they go on a long campaign of fear - experts will be used to shape public opinion. The western governments need obedient workers, who can work enough hours, to pay their taxes, and the ever increasing government debts. I also believe the US school system is being dumbed down deliberately, in order to establish conformity. You can say i am sort of a conspiracy theorist, but you just have to investigate for yourself and see the kinds of conformity we(as human beings) are being prepared for.

Mena UkodoisReady said...

@ Anonymous 4.49 and 6.08 : indeed, if it works for you. Its still our individual choices anyway.

@ Myne: Agree to an extent. Yes where all things are equal, its fine to conform. But when there is a raging, obvious fire in the mountain, why not revolt?

@ Prism: Very good example. Look when you train those kids to *lets face it* kiss ass so early in life, why are we so shocked when they become adults, see black and call it white, just to make some titled man 'comfortable'?

@ Henry: I agree with that and will check the blog out and leave my thoughts. thanxxx

@ Olori: I couldnt agree more! Thanks for the link, I am following you.

Mena UkodoisReady said...

Oketa Otira: Thanks for visiting and for welcoming questions. I know you are more than capable to deliver. lol

@ Wise Sage: You dont blog regularly anymore why na? :(

I agree with your point about achieving a balance. thanxx

Anonymous 14.38: Thanks for your comment and for your points.

I see what you say about where the west is heading to with certain attitudes.

Just like you I am very much aware of the damage the legacy of racial superiority doctrines, colonialism, slavery and its attendant problems.

But western conformity aside: we have to ask ourselves the hard questions, the questions that have eff all to do with western imperialism.

1. Why do we 'accept' such a corrupt political class? The author used Kenya in his examples but I will bring in Nigeria in mine. Seen this yet? http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5a6b59ac-24d3-11e0-a919-00144feab49a.html#axzz1EdCyUPZP

Especially: // The account was set up under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who stood down following 2007 elections. At that time there was $20bn in the fund. But as recently as last September there was less than $400m, according to public disclosures, which showed billions flowing out of the account last year.//
...and we accept this?

Why do we allow our pentecostal overseers and leaders get away with murder, yet when they branch out abroad, they have all sorts of allegations trailing them particularly when they operate their 'services' in societies where there exists a functional rule of law?

Why do we find it hard to question that 'small boy' of 21 years who suddenly came across enough money to buy houses for his mother? Buy escalades? spend money like its water?

Why do we accept people's explanation that it is the 'work of God so easily?

Why is Africa, the richest continent in the world, the poorest in real terms, needing all these 'foreign aids' 'charity' and NGO's?
Yes we can trace it back to modern western imperialism which is very subtle and cleverly done under the banner of democracy. But why cant we rise up and take over our own damn resources one day? I mean we have strength in numbers, why cant we revolt against these things? WHy do we allow it continue?

WHY?


I think the answer lies in the fact that we have been trained to conform, to respect, to accept, to be docile, in other words tobe hypocrites.

Mena UkodoisReady said...

Thanks again to everyone, I sincerely appreciate the time you took to visit, read and leave each comment! :D

XXXX

Oketa said...

One thing the anonymous person missed is that fear encourages conformity, as much as oppression. In fact oppression is the tool used to establish conformity. When you force your child, by using either brute force or demeaning words, to act contrary to his/her wants, and individual freedom, that is oppression. you do indeed establish conformity this way, but this produces dishonesty in the person to whom you are disciplining for conformity. It is of course necessary for us as a society to conform to an extent, but should we lose our individuality in the process? I think the difference in the way an African child is raised, and how a westerner is brought up, is the fact that the African kid loses more of his individuality during the conformation process. That is why the African child question less and is less outspoken than his western counterpart.

The anonymous writer also mentioned that he/she foresees a problem in the west, because of how they raise their kids. I agree to an extent, but i believe if there is a problem brewing, its because of the state. Western governments, through covert control by the corporations, will solely bring down their societies because of the kinds of conformity they are enforcing on kids. Someone in America wants the kids to remain dumb, so they can't question. All these stupid liberal programs in Americana and British schools, will kill them. The parents in the west have very little control now. Slowly by slowly, their rights are being taken and soon, the home-schoolers will have absolutely no right as educators in the west. Its all government.

Chizy K said...

thats very true

Ginger said...

Mena thanks for hooking me up to this post. It makes a lot of sense. here in the UK, Its been a struggle adapting to Nigerian kids bred here. much as i admire the independence, the old Nigerian instinct to shut them up and tell them who is boss rears its ugly head.

like you said, a balance is needed and how blessed is the society that finds it!

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