…the making of an escapist paradise…

Picture:Washington Post
Picture:Washington Post

Each day a fresh wave of interest, a social trend or the occurrence of a national scale event force Nigerians nationwide to pass through shifts in their mental perspective. They may become motivated positively, like the effect of victory by the National team, or negatively which may be in form of a plane crash, or the Aluu community killings.

The growing proportion of negative events the Nigerian society is exposed to however leaves most Nigerians trapped by uncertainty, fear, and the disillusion that accompany consistence failure. For the majority, a sub-conscious outlet is devised. A mindset that enables them relate to events indifferently, helps reduce the negative impacts and socialize. Looking deeply we see this habits reflected in the most subtle terms. A football fan becomes a fanatic, an average religious individual becomes a cleric, a political office holder being regarded as a savior, and the average child nourishing impossible dreams. This wave of social behavior silent as it seems, has become a new way of thinking, a new religion. It is medicaly referred to as escapism.

Escapism is mental diversion by several means, which serve as an “escape” from the perceived unpleasant or banal aspects of daily life. It can also be used as a term to define the actions people take to help relieve persisting feelings of depression or general sadness. In the case of Nigeria, religion, ethno-social events, and sports have become major escape outlets.

The desire to escape is not inherited or self born, in the case of a complex country like Nigeria, it is largely a situation caused by economic instability. An inability to achieve even the most trivial of dreams by the average Nigerian, which may be in the range of owning a larger scale Akara business, being a clothing brand owner, or partnering with fellow coursemates at school in the ownership of a service firm has created a national incapacity to think clearly and constructively of even the smallest social problems.

To create, has been replaced by to survive. This in retrospect is a common cause of the mass escapism which plagues Nigerians.

In seeking outlets to the various turmoil, several actions may be engaged and can include mob actions, protests, and uprisings.

This economically created lack of self value or worth however has seen positive spill-overs. One of which is, in the search for new alternatives, in a never ending pursuit of the average Nigerian for a better life, the reading culture of Nigerians has increased. Motivational and spiritual books have begun to gain large markets, and religious institutions have slowly capitalized on the endless needs of its followers by converting from purely religious practices to pseudo psychological practical advises on everyday living. Religious leaders have somehow become social psychologists, and now contribute to shaping a positive economy.

The situation is salvageable and changing economic conditions will go a long way in re-awakening the society to productive use. Some questions however may still remain at large. If by sheer national miracle we are able to restructure the coming future with concrete policies which begin today, what becomes of the past. In asking about the past i wish to draw attention to those who have already been affected by the system in previous years. Those who have been mentally plagued with the saddening effects of business failures caused by radical government policies, and the hundreds of thousands of students parading endless qualification yet trapped by unemployment.

We must also include direct effects like those who have had their houses demolished, those who have been thrown in jail and left there for flimsy reasons, and those who have been marginalized ethnically and religiously over years. What becomes of them? Massive government funded psychotherapy?

Let us realize that the Nigerian economy not only under-develops itself by infrastructural failures, but also by its failure to build, and thereafter tap into the collective will of her people to grow, achieve and succeed


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