Perish My Negative Thought

Is the cup half full or half empty?

That question seems to be a general litmus test for measuring whether a person is optimistic and forward-thinking or if the person is a pessimist who lives life with a fear of unknown.

It is clear that a person’s attitude towards life determines his altitude.

It is hard to smile and be positive being a citizen of a third world country. The breakdown of infrastructure and leadership constantly erodes one’s cause for optimism and any general positive outlook.

Even a person, who wakes up on a king sized water-bed, eats a wholesome breakfast prepared by a gourmet chef, is chaffeur driven in a smart Mercedes Maybach to work, still has to contend with the level of poverty around him.

It is not a pretty sight.

Whether you start off your morning from Park View Estate Ikoyi or from under an over-crowded bridge in Oshodi, you still experience bad roads, traffic, armed robbery, dirt strewn streets, putrid smells, 419, NEPA’s ogbanje behavior and the general breakdown of infrastructure.

Naija still a nation of happy people? The streets tell different.

The level of poverty, disillusionment and suffering affects every citizen of Nigeria directly or indirectly. Some advantaged individuals who have found themselves in positions of authority have exploited the general desperation and the despair of members of the public. Nigeria is becoming an Animal Farm nation. What happened to the community of Tales by Moonlight?

  

 

I was once invited to a church where the only thing the pastor dwelled on was negativity. He gave the congregation 8 prayer points and all of them where prayers for the destruction of their enemies: “Okay, by fire, by thunder, open your mouth! Pray that your enemies will die! No, in fact pray that they will almost die, but not give up the ghost, so that they can recover and witness your success. After then, let them perish.”

And I am like, make up your mind; which one is it then?

The pastor went on “Who is the Achan or Judas in your life; responsible for your present travails and anguish? It could be your next door neighbor or even the person sitting next to you now!”

A set of twins sitting next to each other, looked at themselves with scorn and suspicion. So, it has been your doing all along eh, Kehinde?

At the end of the service, I realized, that the Word had not been preached at all.

The pastor seemed obsessed with characters from the bible like Delilah, Achan, Judas, Nimrod and Cain rather than the gospel and God’s promises towards everyone.

And the pastor’s negative outlook trickled down to members of the congregation; I got the feeling that they went away feeling angry at the world, deprived and paranoid. Every other person on earth was out to kill, steal and destroy them.

There seems to be a fascination with negativity in many aspects of our national life.

Pessimism about the future and the lack of trust in figures of authority and the system.

Government is building a road – Them wan thief money, ole.

The principal has ordered everyone to assemble at school hall to welcome a speaker – I am skipping school jare; it is a trap to catch people owing fees.

Please join the queue, everyone will be attended to – I nor be JJC. Abeg make I enter your front. Dem wan give only dem broda.

Even in relationships and marriage situations. If you ask some couples about their partner, they are likely to complain about their shortcomings and faults. My hubby is having an affair with a lady in red top. He goes to see her every Saturday or Sunday. Her name is Arsenal.

The chap wants his missus to sit tight, while he meets up with the lads at Marquee.

Men grow unappreciative – her cooking is so bad that she even burns water. Oh, girls in my office are waay hotter than she is. That svelte-looking lady in your office may burn more than H2O, for example your apartment to start with. Or a hole through your wallet.

The grass is not always greener on the other side.

In relationships, it is the same. Everyone wants too much, too soon.

It is all well and good to want the posh apartment, an SUV that can surf on Lekki sand, a job that pays you for doing nothing like parking meters, first class travel tickets etc.

Where is our sense of appreciation for the finer things of life – in our marriages, relationships, work ethic, family?

I have seen promising relationships end because of impatience and misplaced priorities. Tupac Shakur rapped in the duet “Are You Still Down” with Jon B “I will make you smile/ but you would rather have what makes your cry.”

You can decide to love what you see or risk waiting in vain for the person you want them to be?

The general mistrust of the system and despair have driven up the rate of crime, and diversified the methods of crime.

Armed robbery is so old school now, plus it is very risky. Shady characters are devising ways to make loot without lifting a weapon. Bandits are formulating capers with the sophistication of the Italian Job or Ocean’s Eleven movies.

I do not know how it works and neither do I want to, but people have had experiences with hypnotists.

An acquaintance of mine called Femi told me that he was standing at the gate front of his house in Surulere, taking fresh air when a man walked up to him from the street. The man greeted and asked him for the directions to a street.  Femi said that in all his years of living in Surulere, he had never heard of that street before.

He then noticed that the man was staring at him intensely, and he started becoming dizzy. So he gave the man a mighty slap. POAW! The man looked at him dazed but surprised, but picked himself up, turned around and ran away.

When Femi told me this story, I didn’t know what to think.

I mean Femi is a grown man, about 6’4 in height, nothing to mess with.

Apparently his cousin had had a bad experience some months back in FESTAC where money-doublers hypnotized him at a local bar and made him go home and pack all of his step-mum’s jewelry. His step mother was a Yoruba Alhaja, so you can imagine that that’s a whole lot of ice.

But I was thinking, regarding his cousin, are you sure it is not the typical FESTAC “psyching”. Back in the day, there were dubious chaps skilled in the art of “psyching”, which means convincing people to do things for them? There was nothing fetish about psyching! FESTAC and Surulere boys could psyche!

Maybe Femi was paranoid and slapped an innocent man, no doubt influenced by his cousin’s bad experience. Better safe than sowee.

But really how do the hypnotists work? Do they do an abracadabra thing with their arms, and say “You are under a spell; you will walk to your house and bring all your valuables?”  Heaven forbid.

See why ATM debit cards are advantageous? See why one should bank with Spring Bank? It hardly has its own bank-branded ATM machines or hardly dispenses cash due to network issues. Sorry awon hypnotists, the ATMs are not dispensing cash. Ha-ha.

And really, I have never understood the concept of money-doublers. Back in primary school, there was an English textbook that told stories for comprehension exercises. There was a particular one I liked about a geezer called Agu the washer-man. He gave all his earnings to money-doublers and lost everything. He had no business answering a powerful name like Agu then, if he could be easily ‘swarved.’

I have always wondered, that if you want to double your money, isn’t it smarter  to hand  them a tiny sum like say N100, so that they could double it till it becomes like say, N1million. Why would you give them like say N500, 000? Just my thoughts.

But as a nation, why do we always dwell on negatives?

This is reflected in our movies; there are always fetish practices, human sacrifice, 419, bloodshed, oppression, anger etc.

The ordinary man is bitter and cynical and classifies all well off people as corrupt money-stealers or people who made their fortune by illicit means.

I was at a beer parlor once where a group of able bodied men, poured scorn on every well dressed or affluent looking individual that came through the door or drove past on the street.

In Stalin’s Russia, such men would have been sent to Siberia to put their flippant tongues to good use, singing folk songs while working the mines. Call me sexist, but I share Sean Carter’s view that “men shouldn’t be jealous, that’s a female trait.”

Then there are the business pessimists. You share a business idea with them and they swear it would not work in Nigeria: There is the Naija X factor. Nothing works here!

I remember how many people said ATMs would not work in our dear country. Armed robbers and stick-up kids will rob you at the ATM machine. Some fraudster would design an ATM card that will be able to override the system and withdraw N1m. And I am like, na ATM card. No be Whot o! ATM machine no be kalokalo.

What happened to examining an idea on its merits rather than recurring and brazen skepticism?

I love my cousin. He is the most driven individual I have ever met. Once he had this initiative he wanted to start in Lagos State, and was running the idea by a few of his friends. Anytime, he mentioned a point, there was this chap that would mention one logistic problem or the other. This went on for a few minutes.

Finally my cousin could not take this chap’s negativity anymore and said “Get behind me, Evil Man!”

The chap disappeared in a ball of smoke!

Okay, truth be told, he didn’t disappear that way, but he left in annoyance with steam puffing out of his nostrils.

We have to careful about the way our nieces, nephews and kids are brought up, making sure they are exposed to a culture of winning, positivity, hope, enthusiasm and optimism..

I know someone whose nanny refused to let her and her sister play with their Barbies when they were kids.  On the nanny’s day of resumption of duty, she shrieked and shouted “Tufiakwa!” when she saw the children playing with dolls.

“They are idols, like Baal in the bible!” she added.

The nanny saw the youngest child in the house playing with her “My Little Pony” doll.

She panicked and screamed “That is an idol – it looks like the golden calf that Moses had to destroy.”

She would not like Ninja Turtles, no way.

She took giant matches, gathered the dolls, doused them with kerosene and burnt them. She further marveled when the latex dolls understandably didn’t burn properly and counted it as evidence of an evil presence.

I would have shot her to death with my water pistol if she had tried to burn my He-Man or Voltron action figures.

My friend told me that the nanny never listened to the radio or watched TV – not even the Mexican hit soap opera “Wild Rose” which was airing on Nigerian TV then. That is when I knew there must have been something wrong. ALL domestic helps loved “Wild Rose.”

But then again the nanny thought spaghetti were worms, and kept away from cooking or serving it. My guess is that she wouldn’t fancy Indomie then.

I personally believe any idea will work here as far as the service is aimed at a particular demographic and is a niche service. Do the naysayers have a point though? I have been skeptic about some things too.

I personally thought cinemas may struggle to get custom in Nigeria before “Goldenfowl” came on board.

Rightly so because in the early 90s, circa 1993, I and a couple of chaps broke bounds from boarding school and snuck out to a film house around the Sandgross area of Lagos Island.  The film house usually had Indian and Chinese movies on show on a 22-inch box TV, with rows of seats for the punters. Forget popcorn and fizzy drinks, outside the cinema, road-side hawkers sold Agege bread and mai-shy (fried eggs and suya). We bought the “take-away” and entered the dark film house.

We were enjoying the movie and our greasy treats when commotion started. PAOW!!

A fight had broken out about 30 minutes into the movie, because one chap, who had obviously seen the movie thousands of times before, kept on singing the Indian songs out loud, repeating the dialogue and narrating what was going to happen to another man’s annoyance.

The movie in question was “Sunita” (The Promise), so I could understand.  I won’t lie, I loved that movie and knew the lyrics to every song too. But, I wasn’t daft enough to sing out though, and risk being beaten up by an irate audience of city night-crawlers.

It is even more astounding when those who are obsessed with negativity believe that ordinary objects have sinister connotations.

I have an uncle who is a pastor in “Find, Bind and Destroy Them Ministries” with branches in the 36 states of Nigeria. Years back, when I was a teen, he saw a dog tag on my neck, and panicked as he ripped them from my neck giving me neck wounds: “Take off those charms and amulets. How can you wear such things? Who gave them to you?”

I was like wow. I bought those from LOP in VI for a decent sum. I guess my uncle would not like American Marines.

Positive over negative, peoples. Living in fear and suspicion only builds a fortification around us which is a limitation. No matter what our situation is, we have to stay positive and hopeful. Avoid falling into the pit-falls of intimidation, ignorance, anxiety and paranoia.

I like the life I live/

Because it went from negative to positive/ and its all good…

Notorious Big (Juicy, 1994)

 

 

Just strap up and hold on/

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst/

No fears, no nothing on earth/

Nas (Life is what you make it, 1999)

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