Mono-culturalism: Its danger and my Ukraine experience by Sunday Adelaja
Mono-culturalism is the psychology of living just for and within your own people. It can otherwise be called extreme nationalism. It is a feeling that your people are better than others.
We can assess a man’s level of education by how willing he is to embrace others. Monoculturalism makes you a tribalist, a racist, xenophobic, bigoted, discriminatory, and intolerant of others.
The reason why we go to school is to open up our minds and destroy our ignorance. We go to school to break the yoke of personal prejudice, individual bias and normalize our preconceptions about people.
A mind that is truly educated does not hold strongly and stubbornly to opinions. Rather, he researches facts, cross-fertilizes ideas with other minds.
An educated mind is quick to drop prejudice and unfairness in favor of what will make his community tolerable, habitable, and livable for all.
Educated societies are open societies that welcome people and are hospitable. Whereas, dark societies are said to be so because they are unreachable, closed, and not welcoming to strangers.
For example, it is easy for a man who is not educated to say; ‘Igbos are thieves’. He could say, ‘Fulanis are killers’ or summarily conclude that ‘Yorubas are ritualists’.
If you are educated and you believe in facts and veracity, you will know that cannot be the fact. You can’t come to this conclusion because you know that you have not met all Igbos, Fulanis, or Yorubas in the first place.
If you have not met all Igbos, and if all Igbos have not scammed you before, how can you then say Igbos are scammers. It takes an uneducated mind to accept prejudice.
The more educated your mind is, the more you give way for light, knowledge, insight, understanding, and advanced awareness about others. With education, you are considerate of others, sympathetic to their views, respectful of their choices as long as it does not impact you or others negatively.
With education, you are considerate, kind, thoughtful, and accepting. Without all of these values, you are uneducated, even if you have been to all the schools in the world.
Monoculturalism: Its danger
Monoculturalism on the other hand embraces the poison of false patriotism, partisanship, and dangerous devotion. You may often hear monoculturalist say, ‘I am ready to die for my people. On the surface, that looks like a good thing.
But you will only realize the danger when you know that Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, Benito Mussolini, and other mass murderers in history all said the same thing. The world remembers them not as heroes but as villains.
Monoculturalism is a form of illiteracy and a form of backwardness. When you are highly educated as an individual, you will see that we all belong to the same human race irrespective of tribe, color, gender, nationality, ethnicity, etc.
You will see that as human beings, we are all blessings to one another and we come from the same family; God’s family.
Everything that separates us as human beings is insignificant compared to those things that join us together.
When a society is primitive they fight one another to break away into their small microscopic entity.
When society evolves and becomes more advanced, however, they rather bury their differences and come together to form a bigger community.
If you study the history of Europe you’ll discover this tendency. In the past when European countries were more backward and primitive they fought each other and broke themselves down into small nations.
Recent history however shows the opposite tendencies of European nations coming together again to form what is now known as the European Union.
The United States of America began as only 13 states, today they have expanded to 50 states. They went as far as buying territories from France, Mexico, and Russia just to become a greater and bigger nation.
Many who are agitating for the break up of Nigeria today often use the former Soviet Union as their example of new independent nations coming out of one larger nation.
When I hear these arguments I laugh at the ignorance of those using this as their argument. For your information, I live here in the former Soviet Union. I have lived here now for 35 years, I’m a personal witness to all that led to the break up of the country and I was an eye witness of all that transpired and transpires as we speak.
The Ukraine where I am now is one of the 15 republics that were in the former Soviet Union. I know all the problems and troubles each one of these new nations is now going through.
As a matter of fact, up to 75% of the former Soviet Union citizens said they would have preferred to have remained in their previous united country. More so, the standard of living for most of the citizens have considerably fallen especially at the point of division of these nations.
Some of these nations have lost between 30-50% of their population after the breakup of the Soviet Union. More tragically, almost all the new nations went through one civil war or the other. Those who escaped a civil war had horrible political instabilities that they never experienced before in their united country.
As I’m writing this Ukraine where I live is experiencing a war threat, apart from the economic and political instability of the nation. Funny enough every single one of these 15 nations that broke away from the former Soviet Union later realized their foolishness such that years later they began to look to create or join another alliance or Union again.
Today half of them have come back together again to form a Union of independent states with Russia, while the second half is either already joined the European Union or pleading to join. I can keep going on and on about all the troubles connected to the breaking up of a developing country into an independent nation.
As a matter of fact, what Nigeria is experiencing now is a direct consequence of starting a young nation. To start a new nation now means going back another 60 years, and then repeat the whole journey that Nigeria has gone through again from the beginning.
Hence when you see me vehemently protesting against breaking down Nigeria, it is because of what I know. I have been living in the former Soviet Union for the past 35 years. I have witnessed all the pains and sorrow of these new nations first hand, hence I am pleading with my people to consider moving ahead with Nigeria rather than breaking up and starting all over again for every individual nation involved.
Many among us are religious, we are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. We are the same people. The colors of our skin do not determine who we really are. The language we speak does not always depict who we are. For instance, I am a Yoruba man, I grew up speaking Yoruba every single day of my growing up years.
Today, I am more fluent in the Russian language than I am in Yoruba. Through the rule of use and disuse, I am more conversant today in the language that I have used for the past close to four decades than my native language. Therefore, language does not determine who we are.
We are all connected
What matters is that we are all human beings, we all belong to the human race, we all have one race. We are all one family. We are all connected.
You should train your mind to see this value in everyone. You must train your mind to treat everyone you come across like this. If you happen to travel out of your own geographical location, chances are that you will meet a lot of people who differ from you in many ways. You cannot afford to only see the dividing lines between you and every other person you come across. How many lines do you want to see? Instead, train your mind to only see one thing, humanity.
Hope you can see the picture I’m trying to paint. Can you see the joining lines between you and others? If you can see yourself being joined to the human race, how much more people born into the same country and the same continent as you are.
We are Africans not just because we are black but because we were born into the same continent with the same bloodstream in our veins. All Africans are related. All of us are one people. Before the advent of the Colonizers in Africa, our fore-parents lived together in kingdoms and empires without passports or boundaries.
They did not know what a country was or what nationalism meant. They just recognized one another as black people and Africans. It was the Colonizers who came together with a map and a pen and divided us into countries. Why must we then take such identity and place it over our larger identity as Africans and as a part of the human race?
When compared to your personal identity as a human being, being an African is inferior. If you do not understand this properly, you will be in trouble everywhere you go and when you come outside of your own ethnicity. When compared to your identity as an African, your ethnicity is inferior.
When compared to your ethnicity, your national identity is inferior. When compared to your national identity, your tribal identity is inferior. When compared to your tribal identity, your town/city of origin is inferior. When compared to your city or town of origin, your family house/identity is inferior.
We often miss it because we allow the big picture to get blurred in our minds. The clearest picture on everyone’s mind should be our collective humanity, then allow others blur in that direction.
Here’s the problem of the world; individuals forget their human identity, then begin to emphasize their lesser identity over their collective identity. No nation will be great where the lesser identities are paramount and take central discussions. Great societies have learnt to downplay their lesser identities in favor of the bigger and more collective identities.
For example, in Africa, tribe is a big deal for a lot of people and it means everything to them. Conversely, in Europe, though they also have several tribes, they have learnt to put that identity aside in favor of their larger identity. The years when tribalism meant so much to people in Europe were the years filled with bitter wars, extreme bloodshed, killings, and maiming.
Through those wars, Europeans have learnt that holding tightly to the lesser identity will do their society no good. They have thus, given up that, in exchange for embracing their collective identity and destiny as Europeans.
As a result, a European is proudly a European anywhere he goes within his continent. There are further and ongoing attempts to make the dividing lines more and more insignificant.
I want to enjoin my fellow Nigerians from every tribe and nation in our union to dare to build a great country together. We should not be going backward when all other countries are moving forward. If we will not allow the challenges of today to deter us can together make Nigeria become the envy of nations.
In conclusion, I’ll like to again fall on the wisdom of Chief Obafemi Awolowo when he says “The gloom of the world is but a shadow, and there is radiance in the darkness if we could but see. To be able to see this radiance, all you need to do is to cultivate the courage to look, and the insight to apprehend the light which shines, at all times and in all places, for those who make Truth the object of their daily pursuit.”
Yes, Nigeria is experiencing a time of gloom right now, why don’t we believe the word of our sage to see it as a shadow that will pass away in no time. Let’s learn to see the radiance in the present darkness of Nigeria as we were advised by Awolowo.
However, to see this radiant future of Nigeria we need courage, courage to overlook the gloominess of today, courage to overlook the weaknesses of other ethnic groups, and courage to see the great future Nigeria holds for all of us.
In spite of all the horror stories of today’s Nigeria, there are promising lights underneath our reality. There is always light in every darkness, this has been proven long ago by physics, Awolowo is right light shines in the darkness and in the gloominess of today’s Nigeria.
Let’s have the courage to see the lights and promises Nigeria holds. Unfortunately only those committed to truth can reason this way, as said in the conclusion of that quotation from Chief Obafemi Awolowo. People of truth know this is not the end for Nigeria, but a junction in the journey to a glorious tomorrow, hope my Yoruba people will hear the cry from the grave of their most illustrious son and leader.
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