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The Slough of Prejudice

“The spell and the impact which the personality and the views of [H.M.] cost and made on me must have been enchanting and profound. It was some twenty years later that I was able to wade out of the slough of prejudice with which I had been indoctrinated …, and to make my own independent appraisal…” AWO: The Autobiography of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, 1960.

In reading the book AWO, I stumbled on the little quote above, and I had a flood of thoughts about how fresh or contemporary the key point may be.

Today’s Nigeria, and maybe Africa, is awash with ignorant people steeped in prejudice. The first time aboard one East African airline, I wondered if I was not making a mistake to allow this kind of Africans fly me. But then, I remembered that we Nigerians can barely fly ourselves beyond one hour. What rights do I have to think we are better?

A Southern Nigerian often thinks that the Northerner is not so smart. Yet the richest Nigerian is a Northerner. And each of us can point at many highly intelligent Northerners. A Northern Nigerian thinks that Southerners cannot lead the nation. Yet great ideas that have moved Nigeria forward have come from the South.

The Easterner thinks the Westerner is bound to disappoint him. The Westerner thinks the Easterner is too proud. Others think the Niger Delta is a minority, yet the Ijaws are the fourth largest people group in Nigeria.

We throw our nets of prejudice as though every patch of the night sky is bound to be black! The night sky is black, no doubt; but the stars shining are the norm and not an exception. People are individually good or bad!

We throw out alliances that would have made us formidable, if not invincible because we are wallowing in our sloughs of prejudice. Going by our smartness, shouldn’t we be in charge of our own assessment and appraisal of other people?

Why not come out of the slough of prejudice?

prejudice /ˈprɛdʒʊdɪs/ noun

preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

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  1. Aptly put Lanre! Just like the title of one of the TED talk Chimamanda Adichie gave some years ago, we sometimes fall into that “danger of a single story! Prejudice everywhere!

  2. The world is full of prejudices, they are so grounded in virtually every race and culture that we tend to regard them as normal. Such prejudices do not seem too inimical. The bad ones are those which when combined with hatred become the bane of a society. Such are the prejudices that plague Nigeria. May God bail us out.

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