Pain and shame as the new form of education in Nigeria

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Taa! Taa! No pity am at all! Na so dem dey do… The noise rose higher, as different sounds of slap emerged from a particular spot. Young men were rushing to the spot; some ladies were jeering, while others were fighting back tears from leaving their eyes. A young woman was about to be stripped off her clothes and dignity, a common show of pain and shame in Nigeria. Smart phones of randy and sex-starved men could not delay to leave their pockets, concurrently exhibiting the high resolution of the 50 mega pixel of latest china-made camera phones. Facebook pages, blogs and websites were about to receive the latest ‘pinshure’ of a humiliated slay queen, who allegedly ‘picked a phone without paying’ in a Nigerian mall. “Pain and shame her the more in order to teach her a lesson; that’s how we roll; they will not find something meaningful to do with their lives; they must learn.”


Even the worst criminal becomes a holy pastor or incorruptible judge when another person is caught in the act of stealing in Nigeria. In fact you don’t have to steal to become a victim of pain and shame in Nigeria. Just avoid being accused at all of any misdeed, whether online or offline, except you are extremely rich. Even looking at your neighbour’s daughter may qualify you for pain and shame. They go on stripping unclad, flogging, beating, mauling, insulting, defaming and even lynching any suspect.


Pain and shame manifesting in Nigerian youth agitation
Pain and shame, a manifestation of bitterness among Nigerian youths

Society is a pool from which everybody fetches drinking water, and into which everybody pours elements through their actions and inactions. The element we pour into a pool either purifies the water or pollutes it, and thereby affects us directly or indirectly. Human society begins with a plan and an agreement between the members of the society to cooperate for the satisfaction of their individual needs with the available resources. They agree to contribute their individual talents and strengths to extract, develop and distribute their human, mineral and other resources for common good.


People organize their societies to continually RESEARCH, EDUCATE and EMPOWER its members, so that everybody can CONTRIBUTE to the development of the society, and thus earn some decent living. The first element of social education is recognition of our personhood and those of the other people. The second element is the method of interaction with other people in the society for progress and harmony, and the third is our interaction with other non-human elements in the society for human good. All these education elements are planted in the human character at the early stage of life. The individual is made to see reasons for freely adopting these principles of education to ensure the sustenance of the society for common good.


The world has made a lot of achievements in the interaction with non-human elements of the society as seen in the scientific discovery of phones, drugs, cars, planes, satellites and others. These were possible because of the human ability to RESEARCH, EDUCATE, EMPOWER and COOPERATE. Cooperation with other people, as persons, in the society towards productivity and harmony has been the nexus of progress in history.


Unfortunately in Nigeria, the access to mineral resources is taken from the people by military might.[1] Nigerians do not have access to their resources upon which they can cooperate to produce what they need. Only few people are able to import the goods that are produced outside Nigeria with resources from Nigeria. The rest are left to learn ‘big big grammar’ for counting and reporting imported goods without making any concrete effect of converting natural resources to usable human goods. Sorry I forgot, there is no access to the resources for the ‘grammar people’ to convert, by means of production.


In the absence of resources for productivity in Nigeria, people become idle, lazy and hopeless. The ambitious ones take serious risks to obtain imported luxuries at all cost. The youth, who are immediate victims of the denial of resources for productivity, go into robbery, cultism, kidnapping, prostitution and other crimes. This DENIAL, like a poison in the pool, has made Nigerians so bitter that they easily vent their frustration on one another. They adapt the biblical ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ injunction as ‘spare the pain and shame, and spoil the citizen’ to vent their economic/social frustration on any unlucky person: suspected or real. Rival cult group, alleged thief or kidnapper, dull or bright student, even one’s own relatives, spouses and children are not spared in the ire of pain and shame.


The vent of frustration and bitterness which is masked in the clamour for pain and shame as means of education and correction has worse effects in the future of our society. The individual loses his dignity and esteem; he/she develops psychological problems that could lead to suicide, timidity, wickedness and bitterness. If the victim of these vents survives the episode, he/she does not become a better person, but a bitter monster waiting to be unleashed on other members of the society.


Humans are naturally good; God created all things and said they are good; human beings search for good and want to be described as good, even best. Often, faulty reasoning and approach to what they see as good conflict with social interest. This faulty reasoning can be corrected without use of pain and shame. Hence, each society requires a system of thought to manage and harmonize the different initiatives from human elements towards progress. Without good reasoning towards harmony, two good people will misunderstand themselves in their pursuit of their perceived good.


Some form of pain may be necessary in correcting human conducts and discouraging crime and vices. However, when the mood of a society is more open to fighting crimes than encouraging virtues, the society is founded on false reasoning and false understanding of human beings. Many developed countries use correctional facilities to rehabilitate individuals, educate and empower them to fit in and contribute meaningfully to the growth of their society. In these detention facilities, trained psychologists and educationists devise standard procedures aimed at influencing the individual to appreciate the human baseline.


Each person gives what he has. The Nigerian pool is filled with suppressed bitterness and anger that erupts frequently in the exhibition of pain and shame on other people. Many adults are victims of parental/educational torture and abuse in the name of disciplined upbringing. It is not a situation that can be addressed by just the individual. The philosophy of the Nigerian society has to be born in Nigeria for Nigeria and most preferably by Nigerians. Otherwise, we continue to live in fear of suddenly becoming victims of this horrible culture of pain and shame.

[1] Cf. Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act is an act that concretizes the seizure of all lands containing minerals in Nigeria