I was drawn to How Intelligence Kills while book shopping in Roving Heights and it stands as the book with the most interesting title that I own. I vaguely remembered the author as the Okada books cum Bella Naija columnist-with-the-funny-picture guy, and I thought, well, why not?
Before we go all in… How have you been? Have you graduated? Got married? New job? What’s new? Do tell me in the comments!
The title, How Intelligence Kills, is quite extra and seems clickbait laden, right? That’s what I thought too. Honestly, that was my only reason for purchase. The sub-title of this book is ‘Our Dangerous Addiction to Respect, Religion, Intelligence and lots more’. Dangerous is actually right, and Ofili explains why using his everyday experiences as a child to his near-miss plane crash.
As an ever-hopeful believer in my country, Nigeria, this book brought to light some issues that, I have to admit, were difficult for me to comprehend, let alone accept. I was amazed at the depth of intelligence within the pages of this book. First off, a large part of success involves accepting your flaws. He tells hard truths that other people would shy away from and these are some which you and I should admit here and now;
We Don’t Actually Know What the Aso Rock Presidential Villa Looks Like
The residence of the President is fondly called Aso Rock, but we really don’t know what it looks like (at least I don’t. Do you?) but I know what the Oval Office in the White House looks like.
Why is the ultimate symbol of our leadership an open secret? Why don’t I know what Aso Rock Presidential Villa looks like?
We don’t seem to care much for our history or any part of our story, really. For example, the defining Nigerian Civil War of 1967 was something that wasn’t real to me until I read There Was A Country and watched Half Of A Yellow Sun about four years ago. For a 24-year old Nigerian, that is bad, really bad.
Why is our own history ostensibly unimportant to us?
We could say that the past is gone, but the future cannot exist without the past. We have to work to remember who we really are. We need to actively educate ourselves and the younger generation about the beauty and maleficence associated with our past, present and future as a people.
Then maybe, just maybe, we can come to knowing what Aso Rock looks like because we should know.
Ps. The government says the Villa isn’t open to the public for ‘security reasons’.
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Our Pride In Fighting The Battle For Suffering
The author actually left me laughing with the aptness of his description of this ever so Nigerian trait. Why do we feel that when a neighbour says ‘I haven’t had light in two days,’ we need to reply with, ‘I haven’t seen it for four days, and water stopped running two days ago. Imagine!’ There seems to be an almost visible badge of honour which has been conferred on #TeamSufferingAndSmiling. I was a part of this team, boldly displaying my badge at any puny opportunity without even knowing. It is this same team that makes it seem like being an Ajebo is a near sin.
This book has helped me see that it was way past time for this badge to be torn off my chest and thrown away, because as Ofili says, ‘We were once an Ajebota nation.’ My parents have mentioned severally told me about when we had constant light, people actually stood politely on queues and education was first-rate.
This gives me hope…which is honestly tainted with sadness.
How did we allow ourselves to get here? To the point where toilet paper in our airports is hijacked by someone who wants you to ‘help’ by ‘giving anything you have’? The place where seven hours of light for four days in a week is considered a luxury?
It. Is. Not.
We are proud of our the suffering, and we need to just accept it. When we do, we can begin changing it like I know we can.
This book is an honest book, period. If you want a sugar-coated, hopeful book, then this is not a book for you (although I really hope you would read this book). I have never seen any book written in this style. It sort of reminds me of children books because of the illustrations, but they literally made the book what it is.
The Square Peg Can Actually Fit Into The Round Hole
They lied to me. They lied to us all.
I actually liked school. Heck, I low-key miss it, lab reports and all. This literary piece did give me a broader view of our educational system in this beloved country.
We can all agree that we respect the system that is formal education, but the real issue here is, how great really is our system?
Why do boarding school students have to eat beans with weevils in them? Why do they have to have unwholesome water that has led to fatal incidents?
Why does the university have to teach me about spectrophotometers that the lecturers themselves have not even seen? What hope do the students have?
Why is it that the last patent registered in Nigeria in 1990?
Here is one reason; we have constantly been told that the square peg will not fit in the round hole. Well, that’s a lie.
Make the darned hole larger, and fit in your square or octagonal peg.
Enough of the ‘you must be first in class’, maintain the status quo. It’s time to be creative, biko! We should allow our children to ask questions, explore logic, look beyond the present and ask questions. That is how the MLKs, Mandelas, Achebes, Adichies, Akunyilis are built.
Your Nigerian Driver’s License Sucks
This is coming from a 24-year old pharmacist who does not know how to drive, but oh well… it still sucks, and you are about to find out why.
First off, do you realize the flimsiness of the process of acquiring a driver’s license in this country? Well, thanks to Mr. Ofili for helping me see this.
You spend hours in their office, pay and then you get your license, hopefully.
Your dad calls his friend that knows someone that knows someone who can help you get one when you pay a few thousand Naira extra.
No test, no age confirmation, nothing.
Considering how many accidents occur on our roads, you’d think it more care would be taken with whom we allow roam the roads in vehicles. A lot of our ‘licenses’… passports, school certificates, medical licenses, ‘medical reports’ are often almost gotten in similar ways.
Nepotism and corruption exist everywhere, but in Nigeria, they are the gateway to a whole lot of things. It is what it is.
I hate this, but then this is probably the most deep-seated issue mentioned here. I am honestly at a loss as to how to work in my capacity to terminate them, but I hope we find out soon.
Ofili gives a lot of insight to stereotypical questions and statements about Nigeria. You may not agree with his opinions but you’d commend them for being logical. This book made me wish I was more observant of the occurrences in my environs because that was basically this book was based on.
I know we can do better, and at the end that is what it takes.
Do better. Be better.
VENI, VIDI, AMAVI.
That was a handful, right? You deserve a box of chocolates for making it here.
What do you think? What is your opinion on the Nigerian Dilemma?
Do let us know in the comments.
I really appreciate your reading!