Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Chambers Umezulike | My Father's Generation Failed My Generation

IT TOOK me time to decide finally to write this. Courage was needed to embark on this self-imposed assignment. This is because, while I thought very deeply inside of me that this should be written, I was also considering that I should not make some people feel really bad. But, then, this has to be written.
And my reference to my father’s generation, for clarity sake, is a reference to Nigerians that were born in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s. My father’s generation also comprises those Nigerians that were still pretty young or mostly in the universities or just joined the civil service in the 1960s (when most African nations got their independence), and suffered the Nigerian Civil War; the ’70s; the ’80s; and, therefore, definitely inherited a very young Nigeria. I am referring to the generation that started managing the country’s affairs since the late ’70s and has done so for decades. I am referring to the generation that is still currently handling the affairs of the country: the president, ministers, permanent secretaries, governors, senators, commissioners, House of Representatives members; retired and about to retire civil servants, judges, big business men, top shots in the army police, navy, custom etc. The generation that has started fading away; retiring from the civil service, military, businesses, superior and inferior courts of record and other aspects of our national life. Conversely, for clarity sake also, my reference to my own generation is a reference to Nigerians that were born in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s for now. This exposition is necessary primarily because a generation prepares an enabling environment for the generation succeeding it, as obtained in most developed countries. These developed countries epitomize a functional society where there are public goods: functioning hospitals, schools, roads, and metro stations; with 95% of the population having access to food, shelter; with low inequality gap, great standard of living, strong working class etc. Such developed countries are also characterized by a responsive police force, where you call the police and within minutes, the police is knocking on your door. The policemen in these countries know everyone on the street, and can address everyone on this same street by their first names.

Though I see a serious lack of faith in my own generation, and harbour the suspicion that my own generation may be worse in managing the affairs of Nigeria, I seriously think that my father’s generation caused it, which you will have cause to believe too as we further explore this topic. Already, my own generation has started showing traces of pre-failure: a highly money-conscious and materialistic generation; a generation where someone leaves the university today and wants to own cars, houses, and all the modern gadgets within a year; a generation of showing off, and with little or no patience to grow in a responsible career; a generation afflicted by the worst side of corruption; a generation with apathetic attitude to academic excellence, exposed to low quality education characteristic of the Nigerian education sector with graduates that cannot speak good English as its regrettable products; a generation that graduates from the universities by sorting-bribing lecturers; a generation that browses answers with telephones during exams; a generation that depends on question-paper leaks to be able to pass West African Senior School Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE), National Examination Council (NECO), Joint Admission and Matriculation Body (JAMB) exams etc; a generation of exam malpractices across all levels of education; a generation that wants to make quick money as soon as possible through any available means whether such means be by crook or by hook; a generation of a good percentage of school dropouts, all pursuing careers in the music industry, as a gateway to instant financial freedom and yet never sang anything meaningful; a generation of young men wearing dreadlocks, earrings, with funny guitars, sagged trousers and all manner of chains which they call blings hanging around their necks; a generation that is marked by eroded values, integrity, and morals with sex as the order of the day. A generation where the National Association of Nigerian Students’ leaders do not have any cause that they are pursuing, never criticize the government or demonstrate, except to follow politicians up and down for financial gains.

Every father that I have met criticizes my generation, affirming that there is no hope in us. But the truth remains that every problem has a root; and this root, unchecked, developed into the socio-cultural malaise pervading the country today. Few of us have bothered to ascertain the origin of this trouble. I have therefore taken it as a burning passion to focus on the cause of the problem while looking at the problem. This is what I called a holistic approach. I am not trying to defend my generation. Hell No! What I have set out to do is to present my case. This is because while it is convenient for my father’s generation to blame my generation, it is also incumbent on my generation, especially those impassioned members of my generation who share the same ideals and values with me, to remind my father’s generation of their legacy of profligacy which has landed Nigeria into the very state in which they leave us.

Watch out for the 2nd part of this article
"Chambers Umezulike is a Nigerian Secular Humanist, Revolutionary, and Novelist. He is a co-author of the 1000 paged Nigerian centenary compendium: “The Metamorphoses of Nigeria (1914 – 2014),” a thorough work that chronicles stages of economic, political and social developments of Nigeria since 1914 that the British amalgamated her Northern and Southern protectorates. Follow on twitter: @ClueXxxRdh; Facebook_page: "

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