When you look carefully around your local environment, or at least, your microcosmic friendships, you will see that oftentimes, some persons are prone to criticize issues and personalities ignorantly. They claimed to be so much aware of what they seemed to believe or know that they criticize and argue with so much vigor, vitality and excitement that they leave no room for any possible doubt that what they actually believed in may be the wrong. It is from this perspective that this discussion prevails.
Vocational Business Educator, Admissions and UTME Nigeria
The above scenario can be seen in religiously bigoted persons and sometimes, amongst social integrators who are extremely inclined religiously, politically and sometimes, even highly intellectual. So, it is very possible seeing two persons who are ready to argue till death that either Christ was nailed to a cross or to a stake. Meanwhile, the Christ on whom this belief is attached is in his throne relaxing, two bigots are about to die in vain. But permit me to ask if you can… where you there when he (Christ) was nailed? Did you took pictures? Did you see things for yourself? Or you are solely relying on biblical interpretations? Sure you are. If so, why kill another man for his belief system? It’s not as if you have an objective proof. You should have at least, stooped to ponder, ‘what if I am wrong?’
Come to think of it, of the two beliefs, do you even know that one is the correct one? Have you even pondered as an intelligent being “what if my belief is the wrong one?” Because one belief will surely be wrong. Both cannot be right at the same time. It can only be true that this one is wrong and that one is true, or this one is true while that one is false. These are the issues, that your beliefs must be subjected to rigorous and continuous scrutiny to ensure that you based your belief on a refined foundation.
In most of my postulates, I had often asserted that there are three persons/things involved in a religious circle. There is religion, there is God and there is you the operator. You decide the amount of religion you put in your life. While God has to be first in our lives, there is need to filter one’s belief system. Don’t be a dummy and a yes man they tell, “there is hell fire”, you acquiesced. They came again, “there is no more hell fire”, you looked, wondered, are you sure? Ok, you are correct, there is no hell fire. Are you serious? You don’t have to be pushed around. you got to study hard too. Common! read books! I will not dare to write more about religion. I know heaven will be let loose. So many persons will no longer talk to me. They will automatically think of me as an apostate and not a critical thinker. So, I just wanna let things be so that they can at least, be happy with themselves.
When criticizing other persons, try to know things from the other man’s perspective. Be like him, behave like a fool if he is a fool. Be crazy if he is crazy; behave pompous if he is pompous; and be humble if they are humble. All these are to ensure that you see things from the other man’s perspective. This now brings us to the issue of ethnocentric point of view.
What is Ethnocentric Point of View? (Also What is Ethnocentric Research Design?)
In research, there is what we call ethnocentric research design. Ethnocentric research is a study of cultures based on the local norms, values and mores of a culture. In an attempt to study a culture, an ethnocentric researcher takes the place of an indigene or participant in the culture, he eats like the indigenes, walks like them, farm like them, and most importantly, think like them; this is to ensure that the researcher develop and adopt the right view of the culture to ensure that his/her findings translations and judgments are not personalized and unbiased.
Take for instance, in some deep African cultures, locals mix their eba and soup together and eat the eba right from inside the plate of soup (in most African societies, eba refers to proceeds from cassava after peeling, grinding, pressing and frying. The end product is mixed with hot water to form a starchy cake. This cake is then eaten with soup). Whereas, in some other societies, same in Africa, locals have separate plates for eba and soup sauce. For locals having separate plates for eba and soup, seeing people mixing the soup and eba together will immediately provoke vomiting because it may look ridiculous to them. But as ridiculous as this may seem, an ethnocentric researcher who has been eating his eba and soup in different plates all his life also attempt to mix eba and soup in the same place, test it, eat it days and even weeks if not for months during his/her investigation. This is to ensure that he understands issues from the perspectives of the locals. Fortunately enough, most times, you discover that what you earlier saw as ridiculous becomes better than what you knew in the status quo ante.
Please, permit me to give example two in this regard. In 2018, I had accompanied my friend to his father’s funeral service in a creek-based Ijaw community in Delta State, Nigeria. The community is only assessed by water, two hours thirty minutes from Sapele main town (speed boats estimate). When the funeral rites were unfolding, with music, dances, and lots more (In Africa, funeral can turn to merriment somehow. This is not to say the mourners are happy, but it is some sort of misplaced priority), I realized that the major dances were all carried out with hips. Without good flexible hips, your dances may be meaningless. So, in Ijaw dances, only the hippy (relating to hips) ladies get all the attention. If you are to keep on looking, soon enough, you can be involuntarily excited. Teenagers, young adults, married women all reeled out to dance as it was the culture. In fact, in real moral sense, it is a depraved way of life. But whence I was about to judge the Ijaw community as morally depraved and leave the scene, ethnocentrism came to my mind. No Michael, you can’t judge them as immoral. It is just the way the Ijaw people dance; all across the Ijaw nation. It is same thing. In fact, in a ceremony which held on the day of writing this piece, same thing played out. So, it can be concluded that the Ijaw people would not have danced well if God had not created man with butts. If I had not assumed the place of the Ijaw cultural participant, my judgment would have been so biased and unfair to the Ijaw tribe in Nigeria.
Bringing Ethnocentrism to this Context
The Nigerian Literacy rate for the time being is pegged at 65.1%. This indicates that more Nigerians are educated. But if you carefully study the Nigerian social media space, you will see that almost everyone is crazy – far from being even uneducated. Youths who happened to have the means to subscribe, by virtue of technology and by dint of the hardwork of inventors come online to antagonize persons who are aged enough to be their parents. Most times, in my business WhatsApp groups, many university applicants will be insulting fellow group members even after understanding the rules of the group. I will calmly tell them, “take it easy young man, you are talking to your colleagues’ parents”, before they will quickly apologize. All these happen due to disagreement in beliefs, opinions, perceptions, postulates, comments and positions. Patience is never an element in the Nigerian social space, you talk anyhow, you get anyhow response. This is very unpalatable.
Just as it was mentioned above, religion is also caught up in this lack of understanding of social contract. To those who believe there is no hell fire, they tell their followers, don’t listen to other religion who says there is hell fire, they will mislead you. This is also vice versa for the other religious groups. What they try to do as much as possible is to keep you blind from researching further to know more, a ‘more’ that will bring/rake in enlightenment for a better understanding and better decision making. This is wrong. I have seen religion adjust their beliefs system before. Before now, this is what we thought this was, now, with better enlightenment, this is how it should be. What? And you made me believe in that lies/misunderstanding or wrong ever since? And you still tell me to believe there is/there is no hell fire? In all sincerity, I look forward to the day when God will come and say this is the truth. I gear him on to do that as soon as possible to save the human race if he cares for the human race has been subjected to too much suffering. What are they even arguing or looking for that they cannot settle for aeons of years? God and Satan, if they ever exist as we believe must settle their scores as soon as possible to ensure that the human race have rest of mind for once. It is unfair to the human race that we are used as laboratory test tubes in the disputes between two ‘Ggods’. I am of the view that the human race should be left out of that disputes as we await a new world.
Consequent upon the above, individual religious participants must understand that life is dynamic and only continuous research and deep/critical thinking brings the truth up like a drop of water underneath a bottle of oil. Don’t kill another man just because you believe your beliefs were the truth. Afterall, you weren’t there when most of these things happened, were you? Ethnocentrically, behave like the other man, see things from his point of view, listen to his line of argument, be calm, gentle and patient. With time, more truth will come. But until then, don’t argue blindly and ignorantly.
You are criticizing management… no infrastructures, no worker’s welfare, no worker’s development, salaries are delayed, everything about management you will criticize in this your life. Common! calm down. Understand management from their point of operation. But if you cannot calm down, then don’t worry, management will soon rotate to you, and we sincerely hope you will do better with all the intricacies you may have been blind to.
You are criticizing government, government did this, government did that. Government haven’t done this, government haven’t done that… be patient. Some problems in Nigeria seemed to have overwhelmed the government. It may not be true that nothing is being done. It may just be that resources has been expended with nothing to show for it. Take the arms deal as a case study where funds were released for purchases of arms, military officials diverted the fund to personal use. These are the issues with African governance.
Then, at the social levels, you do not just criticize anything you read on social media based on the first story. Be patient, more stories will come up before you can take a stand as an informed person. Take for instance, a popular Nigerian pastor, pastor Biodun Fatoyibo who was accused of rape by his former church member. Immediately the news broke out, strong criticisms swoop in the social space. Unfortunately for the pastor, more supposed/unverified testaments from victims of his alleged rapes came out in support of the claims. I am not per se supporting the pastor because I have always criticized several pastoral activities, but haven been lied against before by my one time SS1 student in 2015, I can no longer jump into hasty judgments in rape cases. When the issue was at its acme, I would make an attempt to comment, but there is this involuntary restriction in me to be patient, my past overwhelmed me and made me to be patient with the story even though it may be true.
This student of mine who claimed to the police she was 13 years, later 15 and later 18 years also told the police I impregnated her. This brought a whole shame on my name as a youth corper and as a strong disciplinarian. It took the expertise of the principal who is a retired police officer and the investigating police to cajole the truth from her mouth. The principal cornered her and the policewoman in his office and was persuading her “if you like corper Mike, we can arrange for marriage, he will marry you. Just tell us the truth” the principal begged. Maybe he already knew what was going on.
It was after this statement and appeal of about 20 minutes that the “madam” told the listening police and principal that “well, I like corper Mike, but no way to talk to him and he is already passing out”. At this point, the policewoman had regretted arresting a corper because of such a girl who had no single story in her lips. She wasn’t even pregnant, she wasn’t 13, 15, nor 18. I am not even a relationship kind of person then who come close to students, I don’t even do that with fellow corpers then, so, it was extremely painful it happened to me. I am very professional as a trained teacher that relationship in the workplace was a no-no for me. I even barred female students coming close to male corpers because I heard a whole lot of things. Owing to corper/student policies I have put in place before the drama played out, to the corpers’ community, it was a lie from the start and their solidarity was overwhelming. But then, the news had gone viral especially to persons whom till date did not have the opportunity to hear the outcome. Truly they say, “you can shoot a bullet, but you cannot catch the end of it”. Don’t be too hasty to send news that you cannot bring back, be patient to know the truth. Don’t help is sending a false alarm. Those who were unable to assume the position of the corper accepted the lie ignorantly, satisfied their unlearned conscience and made away with it. Although most of the teachers then appealed to me to be prayerful that this act is spiritual, I really did not looked into all such appeal as I always see everything in my life as having a secular and social implications. Since I am not that prayer and “amen, amen” type, (though highly sensitive to godliness and the very existence of God), I try to look into why such things happened to me. As the years goes by, similar issues, although in relationship forms begin to play out. What I realized is that I have a likeable personality that many wants to be with, and this is the problem, not actually a spiritual issue. Many Christians will immediately start fighting a non-existent war because of this, praying over nothing because of lack of understanding of the world around them. You may also want to read:
I have made up my mind! (This paper also discusses about how many Christians fight non existent wars as a result of wrong prophecies. You receive a prophecy that your mother, the one who gave birth to you is a witch and you started praying against her, whereas, you problem is mere extreme stress, but since you decided to consult the church instead of the doctor, you have gotten what you want. You will keep on fighting your mother and she is just living her innocent life.)
In fact, when we got to the police station to settle the issue, then, the policemen/women who had gone home the previous day with the news that God has caught a corper who impregnated his student and has spread the news in all the surrounding communities came back to a shock to realize that it was all a juvenile set up. They all took turns in the investigating room whipping her but for my intervention. I did not even press charges because that was the week of my passing out after a year’s service to my nation, hence, there is no need to stay behind because of police cases. So, with my personal experience, whether pastor Fatoyinbo raped the alleged victim or not was no longer my focus. I was extremely willing to wait for court and the body of church investigation, findings and consequent verdict.
What am I trying to present? Do not jump at cases, you will do wrong – a whole lot of wrong. Be patient with yourself. Bridle your tongue. Get more facts. Previously, it was rumoured that President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was a clone. Political followers carried it with all zest that we are even confused of what to believe. You know what? Elections have passed, Buhari has won, that issue has died.
So, be patient. Learn more, study more, listen more, take the position of the other person, see things properly…. Be rest assured that the truth shall prevail!
The discussant is:
Michael Oghenenyoreme Jules (M.Ed. In V.)
Lead Researcher and Vocational Business Educator,
Admissions and UTME Nigeria.
Department of Vocational and Technology Education,
Faculty of Education,
Niger Delta University,
Read more about the author here