The Dumbing Of Nigeria By Entertainment, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

The millenials were socialised into dumbness by a combination of irresistible forces, long in existence before they were born. These include the death of a reading and print culture, a disturbing lack of understanding of basic geography, science, history and civics.

The dumbing down of Nigeria started with its failed public education system. Reality television, Nollywood and social media are set on completing the cycle. The enormous votes (money) and the euphoria that greeted the Big Brother Naija show and the finale, revealed a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectualism and the dumbing of the Nigerian youth. When this is combined with an ice age education in science, the dismissal of the arts and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, ignorance, values erosion and religious stupidity, it is hard to see a path to Nigeria’s greatness. The situation is not totally hopeless though. There is a path to greatness but we are just not on that path. With each passing day, we are moving tangentially away from it. Where is the investment in knowledge and the knowledge economy? Where is the investment in the humanities and the arts? Where are the museums to document our living history? Greatness is not achieved by this general anti-intellectual culture and pew hugging pseudo-religiosity. What I see is a hostile cultural takeover by vulgar merchants of popular culture, kleptocrats in government and pastopreneurs.

Entertainment is not value-neutral. It comes loaded with violence, profanity and sexual immorality. I am not painting a gloomy picture. I see Nigeria first hand because I work with young people. I mingle with them on the streets of Lagos and in the remote farmsteads of the South-West. Those who should hold the promise for a better and brighter Nigeria are sitting at the hard edges of reality with addiction to substances, obsession with entertainment, and the pursuit of pleasure to new levels, thus filling Nigeria with fools.

The millenials were socialised into dumbness by a combination of irresistible forces, long in existence before they were born. These include the death of a reading and print culture, a disturbing lack of understanding of basic geography, science, history and civics. Long ago, Nigeria had a good and promising public education. Over the last three decades, an insidious federal agenda was created and implemented to nurture and condition a population of mindless, robotic citizenry that is ignorant and easily duped. The inference is simple to draw. Without an informed electorate, we cannot make intelligent decisions to vote for who is best and what is best for our us and our country. Sadly the dumbing down is going to get worse with the triumph of the entertainment culture over real education, with the accompanying investment in music, video and entertainment over education.

…the rise of the dumb Nigerian represents profit. Profit for the political elite, profit for churches and mosques, profit for the entertainment industry, profit for advertisers and profit for the telecom industry. More worrisome and more cynically, is the political advantage of having a dumb electorate for those interested in the pursuit of power.

What does this mean? It means, Nigeria is creating a cult of ignorance. A whole generation is coming of age with a frightening aversion for reading anything of substance, an addiction to social media, bad substances and anything that entertains but a book. From what is obtained even at the highest levels of government, we can understand how anti-reason and anti-science have been baked into Nigeria’s political, cultural and social fabric. The constant thread of ignorance in the seams of our nation’s fabric can be seen in the attitude of our leaders and the complacency of the governed – the celebration of ignorance over knowledge. Unfortunately, the rise of the dumb Nigerian represents profit. Profit for the political elite, profit for churches and mosques, profit for the entertainment industry, profit for advertisers and profit for the telecom industry. More worrisome and more cynically, is the political advantage of having a dumb electorate for those interested in the pursuit of power.

I agree that people have the right to watch whatever they wish to see in the privacy of their homes. However, I have serious reservations about the incentivisation involved. How many competitions are on television and cable that promote knowledge? Why don’t we have shows on trivia in the sciences, in the humanities and the arts? As long as people watch these reality shows, the organisers will continue to encourage nudity and open sexual displays to drive ratings. Since bad behaviour is intensified for the camera, we should expect that it can only get worse. Besides, the money is worth it! We saw how state governments and churches became invested in the charade, as they placed advertisement and organised prayer sessions for their favourite to win. What a country!

I’m glad I have control of my brain and my remote control. We can choose to wallow in delusion, praying or wishing away our lack of vision and direction. We can also choose to enforce the stereotype of the Blackman as a lazy, intellectually inferior, sex crazed animal. The world is moving on. This new world is defined by knowledge and we are not in it.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for the PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo

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