Originality – The ability to think independently and creatively
This is one of the MAJOR reasons why America has become the most developed country in the world. That is why it is difficult for developing countries and Africa especially to significantly be developed. Unlike America, these other countries cannot take control of their destiny by thinking critically and independently; and above all by being radically creative.
Americans fought for and got their independence from the British. They so valued the freedom that they essentially do not want the same system of life that they were subjected to under the British. Americans consciously built their lives on to be different from that of their colonial masters: Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy, while the U.S.A. is a constitutional republic; a parliamentary system operates in Britain while a presidential system operates in the U.S.A.
In a typical British motor car, the steering wheel is on the right while the American feels, ‘Nope, ours must be on the left’ and so it remains till tomorrow! While the Brits click ‘down’ the light switch, American turns ‘up’ the switch. British electricity voltage is 220, American’s is 110.
Americans felt if they couldn’t create their own indigenous language, if it must be English, then it must be American-English; different from Queen’s English. They so much believe in Freedom and it controls every aspect of their lives, radically different from their colonial masters, in sports, school calendars and curriculum, dressing, habits and values! They always want to be American and Americans alone, to be the first in everything, first to discover the science of aviation and fly a plane. An American blacksmith and inventor established the first commercially successful electric streetcar. Davenport, from Vermont, invented an electric motor in 1834 and began a small electric railway in 1835. “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” These were the words left on a flag by the American Astronauts, the first humans to step foot on the Moon. They achieve many firsts because they seek originality, as a culture and a way of life which determines self-actualization and development.
Need I remind us, Nigerians, that even though we were also colonized by the same Britain, we chose to be radically original just by half? We also did not want the British form of governance (after trying what was handed over to us at independence), we chose the American system of government. We desire democracy but what we have is ‘Civilian government’. While true democracy as it is practiced in America is government of the people for the people, Nigerians chose ‘home-grown-democracy’ by selecting some people to lead the people, for the people! These ‘selected’ people recycle themselves from time to time. They institute archaic and retrogressive policies to suit themselves and the public resultantly surfers the consequences. No distinct identifiable ideological divide between the so called progressive and conservative political parties. Many years back, the late Uncle Bola Ige described the political parties then as ‘fingers of a leprous hand’. Nuhu Ribadu who contested the presidential election as a progressive (ACN) in the last election has crossed to PDP, a conservative party just like, Olagunsoye Oyinlola crossed from ‘conservative’ to ‘progressive’, five days to his state’s election! Peter Obi formally of APGA is now PDP and Segun Mimiko has transmuted from Labor to PDP.
Isn’t true that the opposite of original is fake? Because we ‘copy copy’, we get fake results. So also is the society wanting to ‘wannabe’ American! Our kids want to sing and dance Rap Music; our indigenous languages have been dubbed ‘vernacular’ and so, seen as not good for public communication anymore. Young Nigerians know off hand all American sports men, even the Ice Hockey and Basketball stars! Most annoying was seeing a Nigerian actress on a video performing the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’. This challenge is intended to draw awareness to the uncommon, incurable disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in America. Celebrities select one of their friends to pour ice cold water on him or her as a challenge. It is posted on Youtube or Facebook for the public to view. President George W Bush was seen on the television being drenched with ice cold water by Laura. So also were Oprah Winfrey and Lebon James. In a situation where one of the conditions is not met, $100 dollar is donated to the research of ALS. For one, ALS is mostly white race issue just as Diabetes is to the black race. The question is: why is a Nigerian actress copying the ice cold water challenge? Is it to draw attention to ALS, a white man’s disease or to raise fund for its research when Ebola is threatening every soul in Nigeria? Do Nigerians know that thirty-five percent of young men today would die of liver related issues in fifteen years’ time due to all kinds of ‘Agunmun’, ‘Agbo jedi’ gulped with liquor, laced thereafter with ‘Alabunkun’ –a highly acetylsalicylic Acid caffeinated powder! Where is the awareness for this and others that are killing us in droves!
The point is that we should be original as Africans. Our culture is pure and our values are graciously enduring. Our traditional rulers’ words were laws. If they instructed that there should be no market opening on Monday, so would it be and there was no need for any police to enforce the royal instruction. We can research our ‘dongoyaro’ to cure malaria in a clinical research institution to determine the dose and package. We can develop “Egbe” (magical disappearance act) to transport to Neptune or Pluto and become the first nation to be there without using missile capsule! If we swear-in our political leaders with ‘Sonpono’ or ‘Esu’, they will be less corrupt if not totally incorruptible. We should embrace our well known cherished tenets like being ‘our brother’s keepers’, ‘one’s palm does not deceive one’, ‘family antecedents or values dictate the name of the child’, to mention a few.
Like American parental aphorism, that they impart to their wards from infancy, -always be a first-rate version of you, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. That way, you’ll be simply, yourself and original; the pathway to greatness.
Fayth Deleola Daramola