Good week everyone! It’s a beautiful day I see outside my window, the morning sun peeping through my dark blinds and even the melodious sound of a (I-don’t know-what) bird trills above my neighbour’s noisy generator. Yes my friends, I’m sorry I have to drag you into my now cantankerous and no-electricity morning but as they say, there’s love in sharing. Ah bless! The power just came back. I tend not to praise my local power company when they give us the power we actually pay them for, it being their job but the main reason I never praise them is I found that any time I praised them for a job well done, a range of two to twenty hours of power in a few days, I’d end up not having any at all for the next four days, and this has happened seven times out of ten. I now see the genesis of superstition, tradition and culture. I actually like this topic – I was going to talk about my misadventure at my friend’s dad’s funeral in Ebutte Metta, Lagos but I suddenly want to try making some sense of this in my head and throw it out to you my folks.
The majority of us, if not all, tend to follow tried and tested, sometimes handed down formulas that lead to successes ranging from immediate gratification to reaping profits from long term investments, personnel and material.. Once these endeavours succeed seven times out of ten, they are likely to be adopted as a winning formula and then a tradition and consequently culture. A man driven to distraction by hunger and seeing no other way out of his predicament than to burgle a house for the first time in his life weighs the cost of his intentions. He prays to God to understand his predicament and to shield him from discovery and shame, to understand that he only need fill his belly and nothing else. He embarks upon his desperate act and ends up not getting caught. The euphoria of his success drives him to try another venture, and then another with resounding success; a winning formula is born – until he is eventually nabbed.
Take my new found ‘superstition’ as an example. When I praise the power company for transmitting uninterrupted power for a whole day – a rarity in these parts and find that seven times out of the ten I praise them for their services, I suffer blackouts for an unusually extended period of time, I would subconsciously or otherwise, sense that some indescribable force is against me praising the company for its services and doing so would be to my detriment. I would therefore, from then on, refrain from praising any improvement on services provided by the company lest some dark force comes along to snatch away what little service I have hitherto enjoyed and plunge me into its fraternal darkness. I ‘learn’ not to acknowledge any strides the company makes to improve upon its services, however phenomenal, for fear of being let down, and I subsequently compel my family to adopt this ‘secure’ and ‘proven’ tradition. We thus learn a culture of criticism and cynicism through our ‘tried and tested’ tradition of non gratitude and non encouragement; and if some bemused outsider, perplexed by our culture of negativity, asks us why we never acknowledge the laudable efforts of our service providers, we smugly reply that it is to ensure the status quo remains the same so that we never regress; and argue further that the culture of criticism is actually a form of reverse encouragement to our service providers. If then this tradition works out for us better services, or at worst keeps us in status quo, what is to stop us from applying it to other aspects of our lives. A dear friend travels through the treacherous roads from Benin to Lagos upon hearing of your hospitalization bearing the Benin fruits and Auchi groundnuts you love so much, huffs and puffs his/her way round to your bedside to give you a hug to which you, with ‘good’ intentions, ask what took them so long without so much as a word of thanks because you know you’re encouraging them to do better – seven times out of ten.
One of the greatest gifts we have as human beings is the power of individual thought even though most of us rarely utilize it for fear of drawing the ire of, or standing apart from others. Almost as crippling is our unwillingness to ask ourselves the plain truth no matter how painful it may be. Hence we sometimes go through life holding tenaciously onto outmoded beliefs and traditions of yore handed down to us by our forefathers or parents or even by our own hand. I think one should assess and evaluate whether their tradition is taking them to the destination they are going or drawing them back. If it is then all well and good, and if not, then they should know it is in their power to either amend it to suit their purpose or jettison it outrightly. We oftentimes abuse much of the power we have by being too afraid to exercise it to our hurt. Tradition and culture were made for man and not the other way round. Have a great week everyone!