#MyWritingJourney

Plot-Driven Stories Versus Character-Driven Stories

I have faced a dilemma each time I want to write a story because the type of story I write affects characterization. There are two types of stories: Plot-driven stories and character-driven stories.

How can you tell the difference?

A plot-driven story is that story you can retell remembering none of the characters and it is still a great story. To make it clearer, the story is the story itself (okay, that doesn’t sound clearer does it?) It is that story you write without thinking about the characters first. The characters don’t matter because the story moves itself forward. For instance, a ‘whodunit’ story is about a crime and its resolution. Yes, we have a detective solving the crime but we don’t care about him beyond how he resolves the case and the part of his life that helps him solve it.

Character driven stories are different. What happens to the character and how they react to the happenings both internally and externally is what moves the story forward. Most other types of stories aside from thrillers and crime fall into character-driven stories. The crime genre can also be character-driven. For example, a crime story focused on a criminal and what became of him after meeting a woman he fell in love with before an operation is character driven. In fact, this would be the recipe for a most intriguing character driven story.

It is important to determine the story you want to write so you know where to concentrate your energy. If it is plot-driven then you will pay more attention to your plot points: what is your story about and how does it unfold. How will you keep the audience hooked on the story? What about suspense? How will the story be resolved? After setting this out you will now think of your characters and what quirks they will possess that will make them the best fit for the world of your story.

If your story is character-driven then you will have to think to develop a character profile which will include your character’s journey. You could draw a timeline for before the character stepped into the world of your story and after. One thing you should be careful to outline is how your character has grown. Give them character flaws which they will shed at the end of the story. This is called the character arc. For example in our earlier story, the thief met a girl and fell in love before his next operation. How does this girl affect his life? Does she make him rethink his next operation? Does he still go? The thief’s actions will drive the story and why he acted like he did.

So, how do I resolve my dilemma? I write out the plot of the story and then ask myself: Is this better as a plot -driven or a character? And then I listen to the voices in my head ☺️

Exercise: Think of the last story you read. Was it plot driven or character driven?

Advertisements
Uncategorized

Is Feminism Losing the Gender War?

feminism

In 2017, Feminism was the most Google-searched word on planet Earth. This may be because a lot of people are trying to understand the concept. It can also be because the word is gaining greater significance to many. One thing is sure though, women, all over the world are identifying with the word and riding on its wings to demand equality. They are demanding a seat on the table and that their voices be heard. They’re simply refusing to stand down. However, as admirable as this movement might sound, there are genuine concerns that have led some men and women to distance themselves from the movement. A lot of the concerns has to do with the fact that Feminism has grown and been interpreted so differently that identifying with various strains seems unacceptable.

The strains of feminism include Feminism-lite and Feminazi. The term Feminist Lite is used to describe the feminist ideology that still supports patriarchy at some level. In explaining the concept, author Chimamanda Adichie, a renowned feminist, said in her book, “Dear Ijewele”, Feminism Lite is “conditional female equality.” She goes on to advice, “Please reject this entirely. It is a hollow, appeasing and bankrupt idea. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women, or you do not.”

On the other hand, the term Feminazis was coined in the early 90s by Tom Hazlett, a good friend of Rush Limbaugh. For those who do not know, Limbaugh is an American Conservative Talk Show Host and his friend Hazlett is described as a highly regarded professor of economics at the University of California at Davis. The coinage was used to describe “any female who is intolerant of any point of view that challenges militant feminism.” In his book, “The Way Things Ought To Be” Limbaugh writes, “A feminazi is a woman to whom the most important thing in life is seeing to it that as many abortions as possible are performed…With men being precluded from the ultimate decision-making process regarding the future of life in the womb, they are reduced to their proper, inferior role. Nothing matters but me say the feminazi. My concerns prevail over all else. The foetus doesn’t matter, it’s an unviable tissue mass.”

Between the two derogatory terms, feminist lite and feminazi, perhaps ‘true feminists’ are identifiable. They are those who say that if you believe in the equality of the sexes and vow to uphold this equality in word and in deed and do not subscribe to gender roles then you are a baptized feminist.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

However, this reasoning is as problematic as saying “if you believe in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior then you will make heaven”. It is simplistic. It trivializes the entire feminist movement to a few often meaningless words. There are deeper truths to be learned and understood. For example, how does feminism affect the life of a ‘believer’? What were the ideologies of the initiators? Have those ideologies changed? Even more important, what does true feminism entail? Is there an agenda that adherents need to live by? Can members create their own personal agendas? And what happens when those agendas run contrary to other agendas

When everyone is allowed to have their own definitions of what the movement should be there is confusion. When a movement lacks a manifesto, a guideline, a Bible, then there are no standards. A ship requires a captain, there has to be a hierarchy of command. When this structure is not maintained there will be a shipwreck. It is therefore not surprising, that even in its best form, feminist ideologies present issues that could be mind-boggling. Feminism tends to question biology, attack the family unit and sometimes even foster the very patriarchal leanings that it claims to be fighting against.

Feminism and Biology

What is the origin of gender roles? Whether you believe in the Genesis account of the beginning or some other evolutionary version of how life came to be, one thing we cannot argue is the fact that when we are talking about reproduction, the human species is made up of two genders – the male who provides the sperm and the female who provides the egg and is fitted with the womb to bear the baby and breasts from which the new-born will suckle and be nourished. These roles have already been cast. The weaknesses associated with pregnancy and childbirth creates a vulnerable period in a female’s life such that in an ideal situation the man is expected to step up and act as protector and provider.

It has also been scientifically proven that men, in general, are stronger than women in general. This is why we have sports competitions organised between people of the same sex. Men compete against men and women against women. This is also why men are told not to hit women. A fight between a man and a woman of equal weight and height would not be fair. This is because, at normal size, body fat content is 25% for women but 15% for men. If a man and a woman of equal weight were put side by side, the man would have more muscle mass than the woman and thus would pack a heavier punch.

There is also the advantage that testosterone gives men. Although a lot of research is still being carried out to clearly identify what advantages testosterone bequeaths on men, it has been shown that it makes men more aggressive and competitive. You can read about the new rules for track and field events where, in a bid to be fair, the athletics governing body is proposing that women with elevated testosterone levels be either medicated to reduce the levels, compete against men or give up their international careers.

How do you achieve equality where ‘nature’ has already placed you at a disadvantage, when you are handed a knife for a gunfight? How for instance, do you ensure that women are less vulnerable during pregnancy? It would be assumed that absolute equality would require that men get pregnant too, that men and women have equal distributions of oestrogen and testosterone, that men and women compete in the same sports and that if the best male and best female were pitted against each other, there would be nothing stopping the woman from coming off better in every respect.

How do you fight nature?

Let us also not forget that all men are not born equal, nor do they live equal or die equal. Neither are all women equal in strength and character. Not even before God are all men equal. Is a righteous and a wicked man or woman before God? Will they get equal treatment from him?

Here is the reason why the gender pay gap conversation may remain only a conversation. If two men with equal qualifications for a job were asked to negotiate their pay, would the two men negotiate the same amount? What if they were two women? We all consider ourselves unique in some way. When you attend a job interview your goal is to eliminate the competition by showing you are bringing something others do not have. Do you then think it is fair for legislation to be created forcing you to be paid exactly what the other person is?

Unless and until feminism finds a way of recreating humans and endowing every single human on earth with the same types and level of hormones then there cannot be equality either between the reproductive sexes or within the sexes. Individuals will use their natural instincts endowed by biology and learning derived from the environment to get ahead of others. The argument by some strains of feminism that biology is not a huge factor in achieving equality falls in the face of these realities.

Feminism and the Attack on the Family Unit

Core feminist ideology is anti-family. The definition of family in this write-up will be limited to a unit which consists a male father, a female mother and maybe children, a heterosexual relationship if you please. True, many feminist women will say this is untrue. But, an examination of what feminist values are will reveal that when all is considered, a married feminist will either have to subscribe to the derogatory ‘feminist lite’ version of the movement. The alternative would be to or choose a more ‘loose’ relationship which involves remaining single.

Jill Filipovic, author of “The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness” has a great take on this. Yiu can read her book to learn how she struggled with the idea of marriage because of her feminist values. After talking about how a feminist may have to give up some of her ideals when she decides to marry, she proposes, “a feminism and a politics that reorient themselves away from simple equality and toward happiness and pleasure.” In other words, equality may not be the route to happiness. So each person should be allowed to find their own happiness however they deem fit.

In considering how feminism is incompatible with family life, one question will suffice: Who makes the final decision in the family?

Consider these scenarios:

A man does not want to have children. He decides to get a vasectomy. Is he obligated to tell his wife? You probably would answer. ‘yes’. He has a moral obligation to tell her. But what if she says ‘no’ to his vasectomy. She wants children by him. Who should have the final say? It is his body, isn’t it?

A wife gets pregnant, she does not want the baby so, she is thinking of having an abortion. She has the financial capacity to carry it out. Should she tell her husband? You probably will answer ‘yes’. She and her husband are one flesh. They made the baby together. It would be maybe morally wrong for her to keep him in the dark. But what if she tells him and he says ‘no’ to the abortion. Who should have the final say? It is her body, isn’t it?

Wouldn’t it be much easier if the woman was put in a position where she would have a moral obligation based on marriage to have a man make a decision over her body? How many men opt for vasectomies as opposed to women who want abortions?

Enter, the loose union.

What if the woman does not even need to marry the man? She can have sex with him and then have him get her pregnant (if she wants it) and if by the failure of contraceptives she gets pregnant or changes her mind somewhere along the line then she does not need to ask him. They are not married, not one flesh.

The loose union is a direct affront to the family unit as we know it. So with feminism, we need to redefine marriage. In an interview Jill Filipovic granted, she said “I don’t think marriage in itself is a feminist institution. I am entering into it anyway.” She adds, “I also don’t think high heels are feminist but I wear those. We all have to live our lives and do things that are gonna bring us some sort of contentment, and satisfaction, and happiness even if they do not fall in line with our political ideals.”

The issue of headship and submission remains a knotty one among feminists. Yet, humans are naturally inclined to want some direction. In the family unit, the man by virtue of testosterone is stronger and more competitive and so will take charge, and lead. Feminist ideology counters this. Something has to give.

Feminism and Tacit Support of Patriarchy

Feminism is losing the battle on egalitarian marriages. This is because, after marriage the reality of everyday living makes people take a hard look at their finances. When the children begin to come there is greater pressure not only on the finances of both partners but the responsibility of caring for the child puts emotional and psychological pressure on the couple. So, who gets to give up their careers and dreams so that the family is happier?

Most times, the women get to give up their dreams so that their husbands can remain in the workforce. This is a practical decision, though anti-feminist, and one that most women willingly make. Their reasoning may border around the fact that men earn more but it can also be because women have the nurturing instincts. They are also biologically equipped as nurturers. Based on this, a strain of feminism is of the opinion that women who have to give up their careers for family deserve to be compensated. Recently, the question was raised on Twitter, “Should housewives be paid salaries by their working husbands?”

Pause for a second and consider the meaning of the word patriarchy. The London Feminist Network defines patriarchy as, “the term used to describe the society in which we live today, characterized by current and historic unequal power relations between women and men whereby women are systematically disadvantaged and oppressed.”

When a man pays his wife a salary, does that not put him in a position of power over her? Can he not then tell her what to do with her ‘work hours’? Also, does this not change the entire dynamics of the relationship to a transactional one?

More questions: Is the salary to be deducted before or after general expenditure? The idea of feeling entitled to one’s husband’s money to the extent of asking to be paid for being wife, mother, and homemaker just completely goes against the spirit of sacrifice. Mind you, the man is also making a sacrifice by working. So what of his wife’s should he be entitled to? Food? Sex? Because in the spirit of equality, one compensation for equality, deserves another.

Is the entire idea of husbands paying their wives not further entrenching patriarchy?

Then there is another strain of feminists who say that men should cut down or give up their own careers to encourage their wives to pursue theirs’. According to them, if there is a need for more time to be spent on domestics, the man should be more willing to cut back on his work hours in order to spend time with the children and allow his wife to keep working. Placing the onus of that decision on men simply means granting the men the power to say yes or no.

But, isn’t it the spirit of patriarchy that teaches that it is a man’s decision to ‘allow’ his wife keep working. That the decision of what happens or does not happen within the household ultimately rests on the man? Are feminists trying to use patriarchy to achieve their goals? If this is the case, then is patriarchy actually as bad as feminists want us to believe?

The Future of Feminism

Many persons have long figured out that feminism, as it is presently structured, will burn itself out. It leads to unnecessary conflicts with culture and established working institutions. Instead of a fight for “full equality of men and women”, should the focus not be on achieving equal access to opportunities? All men and women are not and cannot be equal. But like God, they can all have free access to salvation. As the First Century Christian Peter wrote, “Now I fully understand that God is not partial, but in every nation, the [person] who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

Women’s rights should be seen as human rights and laws should not be created simply from a ‘women’s issues’ perspective but from a human and humane perspective. For instance, when a law says women cannot work in mines, it should not be adjusted to read, ‘women can now work in mines’. It should read, “Anyone who wants to work in mines should…” and the criteria should be set. The two groups of people who should enjoy free passes are older people and children – age being the acceptable factor. (There may, of course, be good reason to adopt some principles of affirmative action relative to women issues.)

This calls for a total rebranding of Feminism. Any marketer will tell you for free that a tarnished brand needs to first of all change its name (Ask Cambridge Analytica). The term Feminism has become so synonymous with divisiveness and misandry that it is due for a rebirth. It has happened before. The Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s is often regarded as Second Wave Feminism. It had a different name then, it can assume a new name now. The new wave needs a new acronym and a new agenda.

Following up on an earlier symbolism, you do not take a knife to a gun fight, they say. But nature has handed women knives. Two things, we can either keep arguing that this should not be a gunfight but a knife fight, so that we can say men are not fighting fair or we can make peace with the fact that all we have are knives and choose our battles wisely. There is a third option, though, one that does not have to involve any fighting. It is the option of working together, using our guns and knives to attack real enemies – the murderers, the rapists, the sexual assaulters, the emotional abusers, the people (male and female) who cause others pain. Because at the end of the day, all men are not scum and all women are not false accusers. People hurt people and only people can set them straight.

#MyWritingJourney

#MyWritingJourney: How I deal with Writer's Block

How many times have you sat on your desk thinking about what to write? You type and delete several times trying to find the perfect way to share your imperfect thoughts. Sometimes, you shut down the computer in a fury deciding that maybe if you get involved in some other activity, it will come to you…

block

If you are like me, then writer’s block is a good friend with whom you share a daily meal. He is the typical uninvited guest, showing up at the most awkward times. You know you should ask him to leave but often times, you are powerless. He is that relative you just cannot send away. So, you settle in, delve into a conversation about trivia, and then the day goes by. No writing.

Many authors will tell you to just write. They say there is no such thing as writer’s block – just laziness. They say you can be resolved to shut the door in his face when he comes visiting. You can simply say you have no room for frivolities and let your pen (or fingers) bleed blood before you stop. *shudders*

Whether you believe in writer’s block or think he is just a friend of  Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, there is no arguing the fact that all writers face a time (or many times) in their routine when their head just refuses to co-operate with their pen. when they stare at the computer screen willing the words to appear.

What do I do when that happens?

READ A BOOK

I am not a person given to violence, so I don’t fight writer’s block. We have, however, worked out an arrangement which so far has suited us both. When he visits, I let him in for just 15 minutes. In that time, I leave my computer and do other things. One of my go-to things to do is read a book. He usually does not like the silence and he leaves soon enough. And if he decides to enjoy the silence, I keep reading to keep myself entertained and learn something new.

6qETd5I - Imgur

LISTEN TO MUSIC

Another thing I do when writer’s block comes visiting is listen to music. Usually, I listen to music that will help me think. It can be any type of music (because I like all genres) especially if they have a message. I keep different playlists for this purpose (Maybe someday I will share). Research shows listening to music positively affects on one’s creativity

oh yeah

SUMMON YOUR MUSE

A third option I have that quickly sends writer’s block out of the door, is summoning my muse. She is always there. My wonderful friend who is always to talk with me about everything and anything and sometimes nothing. I find that when I repeat my ideas out loud, it helps me realize how silly they are…and sometimes how awesome they can be.

If all else fails, I go sit on the toilet. Believe me, there is something about butt and a toilet seat that sends ideas into your head. Scientific research, anyone?

So, how have you dealt with writer’s block? don’t forget to share in the comments section.

Serving it Hot!

Why We Must Teach Our Children That Men Are Not Scum

It started as a joke on Twitter. At some point I must have even joined in tweeting it as banter. But in the past few months, it is beginning to crystallize into a movement that is spurred by man hate.

This is dangerous.

I had a conversation with someone on Twitter some time ago, we talked about the core values that feminism seeks to propagate. That men and women should be treated equally and the quest to remove gender stereotyping, to fight patriarchy. Our conclusion was that patriarchy hurts men, perhaps even more than it hurts women. I recall this statement each time I see the statement men are scum. This “movement” hurts women, perhaps even more than it hurts men.

Let me share with you the Teacher Expectancy Effect Theory. Expounded by some scholars it is the theory that students often turn out to be exactly what the teachers project they will be. If a teacher believes that a student should be in the top percentile of the class, they will expend their energy and resources, even giving the child extra classes to ensure they meet the projections. They are also more likely to pay less attention to a child they have written off, given them less attention, and generally overlooking them such that even if the child had the potential to be better, they don’t reach it. Sometimes the students realize the teacher does not think much of them and go right ahead to prove them right.

Society is a socializer – read teacher. In fact, sociologists generally agree that one’s peers, a big part of society have greater influence over who a person becomes at adulthood than one’s parents. Therefore, what society projects on the people is what they are likely to turn out to be. If you project on the younger generation that they have the potentials to grow into stable adults that make the right decisions, then you are more likely to teach them what it will take to be the sort of people you want them to become. Conversely, if you project that they will amount to nothing but raping thieves and scoundrels, you are less likely to teach the behaviors that will make them better people.

We really do not want to win the battle and lose the war. We cannot win the war by deprecating and denigrating people. The war against gender violence requires civil discuss. Everyone should be invited to the table for this conversation to have any effect. We really should not shame people into doing what is right, should we?

Ultimately, the “men are scum” movement will hurt women.Whether we like it or not. Men and women will always meet and get into relationships. As they get into relationships, there will be expectations. Expectations based on personal and societal values. If society promotes that men are scum, then this erodes the very basis of a healthy, happy relationship. Men enter believing nothing good is expected of them and women enter feeling, they are going to get the short end of the stick. Some will even socialize themselves into accepting bad behavior as normal. In the end, we all lose.

Where then do we draw the line?

Rape and sexual violence against women and the need to identify behavior that promotes same can be discussed without labeling people. They can be discussed without turning it into a war between sexes. They can be discussed in an atmosphere of mutual respect. People should be allowed to tell their stories and speak their minds without censorship. Like someone rightly pointed out, I am yet to see a man who was handed a drink by his friends for raping a girl or sexually harassing her except his friends are sick too. Sick people don’t need a hashtag, they need to be identified and put in hospitals till they are cured.

These sick people should be shown that they have deviant behavior, they should not be led to believe they are in the majority. Their behavior should not be reinforced in this way. Have you ever heard the phrase majority carries the vote and if you can’t beat them, join them?

Women, who have gone through series of failed relationships and harbor bile against men, in general, should not be allowed to hide under the umbrella of activism to spread hate. Some women have indeed been the recipients of the short end of the stick in relationships. It is easy to blame the men they have met for all their woes. But when we think about it, if we can’t be happy relationships, should we not rather look within ourselves to see what we are likely doing wrong?

In all, we need to teach our children that they can be better. We need to tell our boys that girls are humans and deserve the same respect that they will give their fellow boys. They should be taught not to prey on women or exploit their vulnerability. Women should be taught how to use their strengths, to be proud of their womanhood. Men and women should be taught to be decent in word and indeed. Let us tell our boys and girls that neither men nor women are scum. Let us set before them the best examples to follow. Let us show them that we can all be better, more decent humans. Only in this way can we begin to build a just and egalitarian society where everyone feels safe.

Serving it Hot!

Of Choices and Consequences, Actions and Reactions.

Imagine if I sold you a piece of equipment which malfunctions while still under warranty and when you return I tell you that I can’t help you because I am not the manufacturer!

Imagine if knowing fully well that I am drunk, I picked up a bunch of kids in my car and then crashed into a trailer. I survive, they die but I insist I was only trying to help them and so should not be liable.

Imagine if I knew of a plan to get my friend raped because I saw some guy add a substance to her drink but I said nothing. After she gets raped I claim it’s not my fault because I did not drug her.

Every choice we make has a consequence. Every action we take begets a reaction. We are liable for the consequences of our choices and the reactions to our actions.

I often wonder whether when the terrorist group, the Black Hand sent groups to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand, they expected that their action would lead to WWI. Or when the soldiers struck January of ’66 they knew they would set off reactions that would lead to the Nigerian Civil War. But can either the Black Hand or the coup plotters of ’66 honestly absolve themselves of responsibility for the consequences of their choices?

No gainsaying that the Nigerian political atmosphere has taken on a toxicity that many never envisaged. When the wind of black propaganda and outright lies were being sown, the planters perhaps never expected to reap the whirlwind of intolerance, discord, and arbitrariness. If they did, there probably will be less talk about rights to pick a candidate who is turning out much more flawed than envisaged, hoping this will somehow free people of responsibility for their actions.

Yes, it is an indisputable fact that by design, every election presents an opportunity to make a choice.Each choice is valid and the supporters have a right to sell their candidate any way they deem necessary within the ambits of the law. What then happens after elections have been won and lost?

Let’s pause for a minute and talk about the spirit of sportsmanship. A person is said to have the spirit of sportsmanship when he imbibes fair play and respect for self and others in his conduct before, during and after play. When competitors shake hands before a game or after, exchange shirts, pull opponents up when they fall, show empathy when the competition is hurt we smile because we are seeing sportsmanship in action. Sports is of course first of all play.However, when the competition cheats in order to win or is foul in word or action, we do not think much of them as individuals. The same applies to politics. People should be magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat.

Your “right” to victory gives you the “responsibility” of not gloating about your victory, mocking the loser, making him feel like he is scum for choices rationally made.

In the same way, your “right” as a loser, gives you the “responsibility” of not being a sore loser, exhibiting pettiness in explaining why you lost or accusing the victor of cheating without tenable evidence.

But what happens when the winner gloats? Or the loser whines?

For every action, there is a reaction. You have a right to free speech but you cannot scream fire in a crowded theatre and then refuse to take responsibility for the ensuing stampede.

Right after the 2015 elections were won and lost, there was a noticeable gloating by the victors. Everyone could testify to considerable improvement in the quality of life of Nigerians after. These improvements, we have come to know, were a fallout of the policies of the previous administration. They were, for lack of a better metaphor, what one would term ‘aftershocks from Tremor Jonathan’. But they were explained away as vibrations from the Buhari Bounce. The direct result of the Bounce Theory was added derision not just of the former president but people who voted him. And if anyone is wondering who fueled this disdain look no further than the President’s July 2015 interview. While fielding questions on running an inclusive government, President Buhari said, “Constituencies that gave me 97% cannot, in all honesty, be treated equally on some issues with constituencies that gave me 5%. I think these are political realities. While certainly there will be justice for everybody, everybody will get his constitutional rights. But while the party in constituencies that by their sheer hard work they got their people to vote and to ensure that their votes count, they must feel that government has appreciated the effort they put in putting the government in place. I see this as fair.”

Excerpt from “Buhari, Working Magic in Body Language”, by Godwin Ijediogor, an Opinion piece in the Guardian 18th August 2015.

Earlier, July 1st to be precise, the phrase “Wailing Wailers” had been released as a teaser to the enshrining of the 5% from the 97% dichotomy. By September 2015, in an article celebrating milestones of “the new sheriff in town’s” 100 days in office, the President’s media aide presented the Buhari Bounce, as an official economic policy.

Any calls for better governance by the 5% was greeted by phrases like “you are pained”, “GEJ is not coming back” and the like.  When the 5% mentioned that no provision was made for the Second Niger Bridge in the 2015 appropriation bill, they were reminded that they did not vote in the current administration and so technically had no rights to demand anything.

Did these supporters have a right to express their views? Of course, they did. Free speech is a right that no one should even contemplate taking away from anyone. But remember responsibility?

Two years on, the Buhari Bounce has dropped, lost its velocity and rolled to a halt. But those who predicted the disasters we are now seeing are again being denied the right to gloat. I say let them gloat. I say you cannot take action and still dictate reactions. I say let people say “I told you so” for as long as they wish. I say let them remind you of all the signs you ignored. I say let them remind you of errors you should not make again. This is really a small price to pay for your lack of sportsmanship.

Granted, people of the I-told-you-so gang were sore losers as well. You would have been well within your rights to remind them of the mess they wanted Nigeria to remain in if things have turned out different. But they didn’t. And here we are.

Some are insisting that the present gloaters profer solutions. I don’t think it is their job to save the country. The president and his team swore to protect and to serve, let them do their jobs. It is not the job of the “opposition” to govern. If the ruling party think the kitchen is too hot, they should step out and let someone else take over the cooking.

Same goes for those who were at the forefront of selling a candidate who has turned out very flawed. They cannot decide not to take responsibility for their actions now. If I came out to tell you that God showed me something about Nigeria’s future and it turns out wrong, I owe it to God and man to confess that maybe I did not really hear the voice of God lest I make God a liar. And if I decide not to, then I should be ready for whatever backlash I receive for my stance.

When we begin to assume responsibility for the actions we take, when we understand that every choice we make has consequences, maybe we will be closer to making the world a better place. This itwasntmeism and dontblamemeism can only breed a nation of selfish irresponsible individuals. No nation ever moved forward with this type of thinking. In fact, this is the very thinking that created our problems to start with.

Serving it Hot!

Lest we Tolerate Intolerance

In the medieval times, it was a crime to translate the Bible into the languages that could be read and understood by common people. People who tried to defy these laws were captured, charged with heresy and sometimes burned at the stake. If you are one of the more liberal-minded albeit religious persons today, you will frown and condemn such acts of intolerance in the dark ages. Back then, you could have been burned for daring to speak up.

In Nazi Germany, simply being a Jew meant you would be targeted. You might end up being burnt in the gas chambers or if you are more fortunate or less depending on which you would prefer, you sent off to a death camp in Germany, Austria or Poland due to this accident of nature. The fight against this intolerance led to WWII.

The problems in Nigeria can be traced to intolerance evidenced in the fear of domination by one tribe or the other. To what would you ascribe the killings in the North that ultimately formed a strong basis for the declaration of the State of Biafra and ultimately the Civil War?

One thing you would notice in these acts of intolerance is that the perpetrators often act in sincerity, based on a belief that they are doing the right thing. Some would have even thought they were doing God’s will. But history has been mostly unkind to them. The results of their lack of tolerance have shown that perhaps we would have a less bloodied history if they never did the things they did.

The word intolerance derives from the Latin word intolerantia which denotes an unwillingness to endure a differing opinion or belief. It is an unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differs from one’s own.  Synonyms of intolerance include bigotry, narrow-mindedness, small-mindedness, parochialism, fanaticism, dogmatism, illiberality; prejudice, bias, partiality, partisanship, sectarianism, one-sidedness, inequality, unfairness, injustice, discrimination.

It is important to give an in-depth definition for intolerance because it sets the premise of this piece. Intolerance is a negative word but its effects on society are even worse. A lack of tolerance can destroy the very fabric which should hold together any society. Intolerance means there are more reasons for disunity; it creates a people so divided that they cannot come together for any cause.  One fears that society in general and the Nigerian society, in particular, is slowly being eroded by intolerance.

Once upon a time, the division was between the government and the masses, the oppressors and the oppressed. One could easily rally the masses under the umbrella of labor or civil society and so distinctly see the ‘us vs them’. These days the partisanship is not so clear-cut.  We have the APC/PDP, APC/APC, PDP/PDP, KOWA/APC, government/masses, inner caucus/others in government, volunteers/aides, paid volunteers/paid aides, civil society favorable to government/civil society seeking the face of government/ civil society not seeking face of government, fragmented labor…even more fragmentation, each group trying to own the narrative.

What this means is that before you can garner support for a cause, you will have to cross so many hurdles and be forced to run a marathon at the speed of a hundred meter dash. You will be left so frustrated that you may decide it is better to suffer the intolerance that led to the purposed rallying.

Outside politics, intolerance holds sway in religion. There are not only the different religions in the world but even among the bodies of religions, there are sects and counter sects. Protestants broke away from Catholics but continued protesting within whilst sowing wild oats and birthing children in the myriads. In Islam, Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist and other religions there are also numerous sects. Many so intolerant to each other that they sometimes resort to wiping out people of a particular sect. The continued incarceration of cleric Ibrahim Yaqoub El-Zakzaky in Nigeria has been linked to the Shi’a/Sunni divide. In fact, the recent conflicts in Iraq have been linked to the difference in ideology based on these two groups.

If you think that running away from politics and religion will save you from intolerance, then think again. Intolerance has crept into our social lives and is threatening to destroy that too. There is the division caused by the gender wars and the divides resulting from sexual orientation. These days, you not only have to be careful what you say but how you say what you say so as not to trigger attacks from a group that disagrees with your views. The protection of minorities and minority views often leads to the bullying of the majority and vice versa. Even when you choose not to express your views you will be labelled by the zealots of one group think or the other. Your silence is a submission to the oppressors and oppression. Oppression itself is a construct of what thinking you adhere to.

Let us get this straight; there is nothing wrong with bias. We all have our biases. In the same vein, we all have things we can tolerate or not tolerate. For instance, some people cannot tolerate milk. This does not mean that milk is bad. It only means that milk is bad for them. A person who is lactose intolerant may choose to become an anti-milk advocate. They may choose to start telling people that milk may not be good for their health and cite examples of people who should avoid milk for their own well-being. Even persons who drink and love milk may welcome their advocacy and even share in it peradventure they have someone in their family /friends are lactose intolerant or would benefit from not taking milk. But what if this person decides that everyone must stop taking milk and then begins to target and label people who do not agree with their anti-milk advocacy?

The above example may sound extreme, even unthinkable, but read a book like The Wave and you will see how easy it is to go down the slippery slope of intolerance. All it requires is a group of people who believe they are right, and they have a right to impose their will on everyone else. Give these people authority and they believe they can help others think what is best for them. But let us remember that even if our cause is right, it is wrong to impose our beliefs on others. You can evangelise but you should not colonise. You can propagate but don’t facilitate hate. Any idea that you need to use intolerance to propagate is not worth the violence you infuse into it. Remember one person’s lactose intolerance could be another person’s milk.

When we all realise – conservatives, liberals, neo conservatives, neo liberals, alt-rights, alt-lefts, fact checkers, truth seekers, revealers of fake news, creators of alternative facts, narrative shapers, shape shifters, communists, socialists, evangelists, atheists, religious, irreligious, areligious, agnostics, homosexuals, transsexuals, asexuals, white feminists, black feminists, neo feminists, feminist feminists, narcissists, extremists, pundits, intellectuals, neo intellectuals, Kabiyesi intellectuals, intellectually challenged, witches, wizards, pro-lifers,pro-choicers,  men, males, boys, teenagers, women, females, girls, children, the unlisted- when we realise that we are just people with different views maybe then we will get rid of intolerance. When we realise that this can just be about milk, we would probably be more tolerant and respectful of the views of others.