It is the simplest thing in the world to assume Sub-Saharan Africans were illiterate and uncivilised before the coming of the White man. Such is well-embraced by the African – if you are well educated. Empire Day celebrated throughout the Commonwealth colonies reminded Nigerians that the King or Queen of England liberated them from bondage. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, one of the best-loved works of Western literature describes the African as a savage and languageless, communicating with grunts like apes. The Father of Modern Social Anthropology, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, swore that Africans had no institutions until the White man arrived – Africans had no marriages, kingdoms, trade, hierarchies, architecture, alphabet, medicines etc. of their own. All these facts are false but very rarely challenged by African scholars. Literacy and education did exist in South-Eastern Nigeria, for a millennium before colonisation. Let us talk about Nsibidi.
Why should ignorance and illiteracy always take the blame for the failings of the weak democracy in Nigeria? It takes some extremism or disturbing denial to ignore or even use derisory evidence and poor logics to affirm President Muhammadu Buhari’s government since 2015 is either competent or successful. Obstinacy and benefit-seeking are culprits. Under Buhari’s watch, Nigeria finds itself taking a steep dive in the economic, political and social arenas of the country. The economy is in tatters with no recovery in sight. Security and safety are hopeless enough to be the responsibility of God. The tribal rivalries are making the country more unstable than before the civil war and the future of Nigeria uncertain than ever. Buhari’s ascendancy to power was not the outcome of an ignorant or illiterate population. It took the scheming of the best educated and most enlightened Nigerians to achieve that feat.