Slaves to others’ thoughts

November 30, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

IITA photo

 

By

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

 

 

Globalization, which comes with a three-sided face: the good, the bad and the ugly, plays an important role in shaping our worldview. It, in some quarters, weakens us and in another gives us the power to relate, socialize with and befriend others from farther afield. Take, for example, business and information.

 

In relation to business, globalization is all about opportunity and efficiency that open markets create. A business, in say, Istanbul, Turkey, can effectively and efficiently communicate with partners, suppliers and customers here in Nigeria. Producers in Nigeria can take their produce to, say, the United States of America or Australia and market same with ease there either by proxy or in person.

 

More so, easy money transfer, cashless transactions and other distant networking can be the good side of globalization when one attaches market value to it; and if one decides to attach information value to it, what comes to mind is either the importation or exportation of cultures through the unrelenting dissemination of information.

 

In the same vein, perhaps, as the bad side of globalization, it creates trade imbalance. Locally produced goods are seen as inferior to imported ones. This means that people in less-developed countries are brainwashed into believing that things from the western world are ideal – incomparable. This can be a mechanism developed to kill industrial and agricultural production in less-developed countries at will.

 

Information flow is an indispensable ingredient for the smooth functioning of every contemporary society. Undoubtedly, without it many a society will shrink and eventually die. Today, it can be likened with “a social lubricant”; but one thing with information, for example, as media flow nowadays dominates our world, it confers certain powers on few people. It is a war-tested gladiator that can take hostages or destroy vicinities of interests without restraint.

 

As powerful nations are accused by intellectuals in the less-developed countries – read Radhika Parameswaran’s Globalization: A Critical Literature Review of Bollywood – of using information to “propagate and maintain their cultural imperialism, hegemony, and ideologies over poor countries,” certain individuals here in Nigeria have borrowed those tools and are either using their positions, educational attainments or medium to enslave the less-informed members of the society. And the uncultured members of the society easily fall prey to these deceptively messianic efforts to inform or educate.

 

History has it that ancient philosophers, like Aristotle and Plato, had a strong belief in slavery. To them, some people were born natural slaves and ought to be enslaved under any circumstances.

 

My suspicion is that certain individuals have decided to enslave the less informed members of the society not because their “souls were not complete”, as Aristotle would say, but because they lack proper ability to think and rational ability to reason, so they need perhaps a master, as would a ship need a radar, to teleguide them and in the process feed them blatant lies since most of the masters to which they fall prey are ill-intentioned.

 

However, the truth is that we cannot circumvent information; but we can resist the chains of mental slavery purveyors of misinformation want slung around our necks. We all need to be informed in some circumstances; but the question is ‘how reliable are our sources of information?’ With the absence of succinct principles that elucidates the brain’s capacity to process information, mental enslavement is imminent.

 

For instance, one Kano-based bespectacled lawyer is taking advantage of some clips released by a publisher allegedly showing a governor taking bribes to enslave his teeming, but naive, followers.

 

To me, he has every right to air his views on the governor as a person; but my problem with him is his supercilious air of a slave master. He has been cherry-picking some constitutional provisions to drive points home. In the process of doing so, he has blindly taken a side. He could not tell his listeners what the constitution actually says about the accused but his personal judgment.

 

About two weeks ago, one prominent Kano-based cleric paid the governor a visit of allegiance. In his opinion, also according to Islamic injunction, the accused is presumed innocent until proven otherwise by a competent Sharia Court or any other court of competent jurisdiction. But the lawyer-turned-persecutor is using all the available space to disrepute the cleric.

 

According to the Nigerian Constitution, so is my stand, until judicial pronouncement is made on the guilt or otherwise of the accused, the accused is presumed to be innocent. And in the governor’s case what the reader has is an unbroken absence of a Court of jurisdiction, but commingling of self-made prosecutors like the said bespectacled lawyer, who for one reason or another bears some grudges against the governor and has now found a chance to settle scores.

 

One can saturate the air with his personal judgment and enslave as many minds as he wishes; but no court of jurisdiction will ever pass his personal judgment for its ruling. Never! Only in one’s mind.

 

However, recently, there was a disheartening insurgents attack on our gallant soldiers at Melete Barracks that claimed the lives of scores of our soldiers. The media, as usual, was agog with the story. Everyone has the right to information. Some politicians capitalized on the unfortunate attack to sell out their political party. This is not the center of attention.

 

The center of attention is the over-bloated-egoed Mr. Know-all. Armed with English grammar, Mr. Know-all is an academic and a university professor, as he always brags of; and everyone within this geographical location called Nigeria is either his student/subscriber to his ideology or “demented nobody”. He said it, not I.

 

I have no problem with his acerbic criticism of the Buhari administration. He can choose to employ constructive or destructive criticisms against the administration. Prosperity will judge him better. I am not in the best position to mark him good or wrong. My problem with him is the undoing he does to the academia.

 

In an article he entitled Knowledge and Power in Academia, Brian Martin opens his argument with some philosophical questions: “Why have there been such bitter battles over political economy at the University of Sydney and over law at Macquarie University? Why have women’s studies and peace studies been so controversial?”

 

Why? It is this: these philosophical questions show a connection between knowledge and the power academia wields. An academic for that matter is expected to show high sense of reasoning and foresight. There is, indeed, an ever-widening gap between a street-lord and an academic; in some senses, they are antithetical. The latter is an irrational being that has no knowledge of bridle; much less to bridle his desires or mouth. The former is rational in every sense of the word.

 

Here is Mr. Know-all, in his attempt to fault the Buhari administration, posting a poorly-orchestrated comment on the Melete attack and attaching a picture from a Kannywood movie to back his argument; little did he know that “others” are keeping his arguments on the toe. It is a classic faux pas.

 

In the same week, as if one blunder is not enough, the same over-inflated head shared a Dailytrust headline that reads: “Breaking: Boko Haram Kidnaps 15 girls” and capped it with a damning comment accusing the presidency and the army. The real abduction happened in Niger Republic; it is GIGO: garbage in, garbage out resulting from poor assessment of information.

 

Mental slavery may not be wrong in the eyes of those serving under the yoke of their assailants, as in the case of the Stockholm Syndrome, since the lives of the victims mostly depend on the action of their torturer; but as Bigger Thomas’ mother would say “one fool is enough for the family.”

 

 

 

 

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid, Kano based, is graduate of B.A English from Bayero University, Kano. He is a budding writer, social analyst, freelancer at Sunrise Language Practitioner (SLP) and regular contributor to Nigerian dailies. 
His writings have appeared in The Communicator, a magazine published by Kano State Polytechnic and in Dailytrust, The Triumph and The cable newspapers. He has a strong interest in literary theory.

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