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The Rising Culture of Violence in Nigeria

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Let me refer to what Rev. Fr. Dr. Uchenna Okpalaunegbu posted on his Facebook wall on 8th September 2016. He called it “Culture of Violence” in Nigeria. He wanted to use verbal outbursts of some people on social media to x-ray the unfortunate condition that Nigeria society today is being submerged. Being disturbed by the rising culture of verbal violence on Social Media among Nigerians which of course is as results of social, religious or cultural intolerances inherent in everyone currently living in the geographical expression called Nigeria, he said:

“What happens on the Facebook is not dialogue but pure verbal violence. Have you tried expressing a contrary opinion to what some people post on their walls or their reply to some posts? Have you also noticed some people’s response or rather non-response to other people’s opinion? If you say anything contrary to what they expect you to say, then, be ready for their insults. Even on religious matters, people insult others for expressing contrary opinions….We live in a society with a stereotype form of thinking and speaking. The worst and disturbing part of this ugly phenomenon is that the youths and those you can apparently classify as educated are the mostly involved.”[1]

This is appalling and really unfortunate. Gradually but unfortunately, this kind of verbal violence has got some strong roots in the mindsets of average Nigerians. In all, it creates rancor and unnecessary segregation among people, and leaves the society vulnerable. The culture of debates and dialogues has died and buried in Nigeria system of socialization. No one wants to hear the opinion of the other person, especially if such opinions are contrary to his own opinions.

There’s no guarantee that someone who cannot tolerate your mere utterances because he deemed them contrary to his own views, can tolerate your physical presence elsewhere. The most likely thing for him to do is to devise any possible means to make sure that your paths didn’t cross at all and if possible, finding any available permanent elimination method. Most often, violence is a physical outburst of intolerance. For some people, it serves as the only way to foist one’s wish or will on other people whom he had considered as weaker.

Segregation more than anything else is what creates unnecessary tensions in our society today. The tensions it creates have their peculiar ways of developing into monstrous entity that no one could control in a very small range of time. These kinds of segregations don’t spare anyone, including their creators when they bounce back to unleash their venoms unto the society that haboured them. Segregation creates classes and alienates people from each other. It makes people to see themselves as opposites or rivals rather than as people with one goal and one destiny. It can spur violence and cause conflicts, and at worse, wars. Segregation is a vice that comes raw and direct out of intolerance and when this is involved, the consequences are fatal and unjustifiable in any court of common sense.

Today, there have been incessant unprovoked angers and killings among people just because of some negligible little differences found among themselves. Killing others in the name of cultures or traditions or for the sake of religious beliefs has become the order of the day in Nigeria, and are somehow becoming what some people have started regarding as ‘normal’ as Igbo proverb normally say that “If evil is left unattended for years, it becomes tradition” (Ar gbaa af, br omenala). There is no opinion no matter how good it sounds that can make intolerance to be accepted or to be tolerated, but in today’s Nigeria it seems to be the other way round as evil people have found succor in the intolerable views of the society to make their evil tendencies to be seen as being somehow justified. And most often, these wicked souls find one passage or the other in their religious books to justify their evil tendencies.

I won’t forget to assert that the history of violence which is clearly an offshoot of intolerance has been as old as man himself. If we could go back to the Holy Bible for instance, we could see where we learnt of Cain and his brother Abel in the Book of Genesis (Chapter 4). From that narration, we could decipher that violence fueled by anger (which is a product of intolerance) started as early as the history of mankind. Then, from Christians Crusaders in the mediaeval period of history to Islamic jihadists through historical development of Islam till today, the world has never known real peace due to some people who promote intolerance in the name of their religions or on behalf of their gods. Till today, some people’s prime disposition is to resort to violence and then later find some viewpoints to justify evils they did.

In this age of unremitting intolerance therefore, some people prefer to feel comfortable intimidating others that do not share the same beliefs, cultures, languages, civilizations, sexual orientations, attitudes or ethnicities with them – forcing them to bend to their dictates or wills and raising bars of superiority above them. These people develop unnecessary superior feelings that makes it look as if they are more right and correct than those that refused to share in their ideologies. The worst part of this dangerous story is preserved in their minds so much infested with prejudice, thus they take anyone who doesn’t share their ideologies as inferior, outcast, infidel and maybe, only worthy of being eliminated (by all possible means). Thus, some people kill for no other reason except their illusive superiority complex that make them think that they are better off than others. This is the lofty inglorious height of intolerance that needs urgent attentions in the society today.

[1] Uchenna Okpalaunegbu, (2016), “Culture of Violence”, https://www.facebook.com/uchenna.c.okpalaunegbu/posts/10206734786190221

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