Tuesday 25 June 2024


India Has Much To Teach Nigeria and Africa About Self Confidence 

My greatest education is not my British education. Rather, it is travel. One country that blew my mind is India. Few countries have as much self confidence as India has. In India, they painstakingly renamed all their towns and cities from the names the British gave them. Bombay was restored to Mumbai, Calcutta reverted to Kolkata, Bangalore changed to Bengaluru, and so on. And you do not see brides getting married in white dresses. Indian brides generally marry in red. Red is their traditional marital colour.

And the only books that they translated into Hindi were science books. Only 2% of their population is Christian. They retained their ancient religion, Hinduism. Today, they are more prosperous than the tithe payers of Africa and their Daddy GOs.

Another culture shock you get from India is that you can spend a week there and not find anyone named John, Michael, James, George, or even sillier names, like Cletus, Remigius, Urbanus, or any other -us ending name.

If it is not Deepak, it will be Rahul, Tribhuvan, Sanjay, Pradeep or Rajiv. If you cannot pronounce their names, that is your headache!

And we can learn from that in Nigeria. Port Harcourt was named after a sexually deviant British Lord. Let's restore it to its precolonial name. Escravos in Delta State means an enslaved person in Portuguese, partly because of what my ancestors did to some ethnicities. How can we call ourselves enslaved people? Forcados in Delta means forced labourer in Portuguese. Lagos means lagoon in Portuguese. Why do we not revert to Eko? Even the name Cameroon means shrimp in Portuguese because the Portuguese found much shrimp there. How can your country be called shrimp?

Then, we must begin to localise science. Let us normalise translating science books into our local languages. Insult me, but I believe it is more important than translating the Bible into Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Ijaw and many other languages. Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who first translated the Bible into Yoruba and helped translate it into Igbo, was still rejected by the bishops of the Church of England even after his elevation to the bishopric.

How much has changed since then? Have they given you a Black Pope or Archbishop of Canterbury?

Even the Church of England was founded in 1534 because the British people did not want to be dictated to by the Catholic Church and its Pope, partly because they refused to elect an English Pope after the first and only one, Adrian IV, was appointed in 1154, and Henry VIII felt they were biased against him and his choice of wives.

Fact-check me: Catholicism was illegal in England for almost three hundred years, and Catholics could not legally hold, buy or inherit property, or be appointed as judges, squires, mayors, join the military or be elected into public office.

And why must we marry in white dresses, black suits, and ties under our humid tropical heat? What is wrong with our native wear, which suits our weather better? In India, their land was colonised, but their minds were mobilised and liberated. But here in Africa, it seems both our minds and lands were colonised. We have to recolonise both.

But it is not all hunky-dory in India. They have two major institutional and cultural problems that we do not have in Nigeria. A caste system that is almost impossible to break out from, and some of the most uneven distribution of wealth on Earth. India is now a wealthy country. But except you are a light-skinned, high-caste Hindu, it is very difficult for you to have upward social, economic, and very definitely political mobility.

Reno Omokri

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