Personally, I can’t claim or even pretend to be a moralist because I am not. So my attempt on this subject is from the knowledge that I am equally an accomplice and a victim of the deteriorating morality in our country.
It is becoming very often to see or hear of people jubilating at the demise of one of us. It is becoming common to see or hear people praising or applauding a thief for being smart, innovative and brave! There are such things that used to be looked as abnormal, but which have become so normal to us of these days!
One may have to attribute this down spiral moral decadency in our society to our own making.
There are many things that started off as small little societal irrational things that were happening amidst us and in our society and we never bothered either to pay attention or to call out those who where doing those things.
At the time, we felt that it was culturally, socially and politically expedient to tolerate and let those things pass. We argued that there were much bigger challenges to attend to. As time went by, things that once seemed to be of rare occurrence, gradually started becoming the order of the day and thus the abnormal started being accepted as normal! This acceptance of abnormality as normal has produced induced chagrin among a number of people.
During the days of our ancestors in most of the African societies, anyone caught engaging in acts of bestiality, homosexuality, incest, wizardry and human sacrificial witchcraft would face the full wrath of the cultural laws which included in many cases being banished from the community or full cleansing and elders counselling. Torturing your child or a child of your husband or wife was never an option for anyone even those with darkest hearts.
Children were always treated as children who belong to the entire community and each member of the community had a duty to not only to protect and look after their safety, but also to instill discipline and even reward and encourage that child to scale greater heights. A child in the villages belonged to all and therefore no intended harm would be metted on that child. Anyone found to break these norms would be treated to very serious consequences and sanctions.
These measures although harsh as they may sound, were intended to act as deterrents and a caution to the rest. Crude as they were, they indeed served to keep some sanity in the communities.
However, as gradually we have embraced modernity, much of these self regulating community measures have suffered as they have been condemned as being archaic and in contravention of modernity.
We have instead chosen to rely on our own hastily legislated laws which in many cases have just served specific interests of the day and thus not really addressing the increasing issues of immorality that has consumed our society.
In those days of our ancestors, it would be unheard of to find a young man or young girl not only talking back to the elders or the seniors, but also never to abuse and insult old people. Profane language of swearing and bellowing out obscene words was unheard of and never tolerated. The passing away of any person, child or adult in the village was treated with all the sombreness because it was grief that touched everyone. In fact, in some village communities, there would be no going to the gardens until the dead has been buried. This wasn’t about being idle, but it was about giving utmost respect to the departed and offering empathy and compassion to the bereaved.
The moment we chose to discard all these practices and instead embraced expediency for modernity, we started on the inevitable roll coaster journey which none of us knows for sure how far and how low we shall go.
So, it has become so hollow for anyone nowadays to talk about morality because it just seems that no one has even the moral authority to reprimand anyone or even to condemn the other.
Not even those considered as the religious leaders or those that are referred to as elders or seniors in age. Not the educationists and obviously not the law enforcers. It becomes a laughing subject when you try to throw in the legislators or the adjudicators (Officers of Court).
It is evident that we have lost trust in each everyone of us in being able to steer us back to the high moral road. Stealing is now becoming normal to the extent that those who are bestowed on with the responsibility of keeping and protecting government public resources are these days on some sort of spree of stealing fete. Those that are supposed to look out for the weak and voiceless, are now concerned about cushioning their own nests in total indifference to those on whose mandate they reached the steps of that most coveted institution of Parliament. There are places where you can’t go without having to put earbuds in the ears due to the profanity that is bellowed out there non stop. Deceit, extortion and pretence have engulfed our would be places of worship to which we all hoped to turn to for spiritual nourishment. It isn’t rare to hear of our religious leaders referring to each as “abo bafere, don’t go there” likewise it isn’t uncommon to hear of chilling accounts of how some crafty persons within a certain mosque have swindled “emaali y’obusiramu”.
In those days, our grand fathers valued what the teachings of peace and spirituality to an extent that they always donated willingly part of their own legitimate estates land to build mosques, churches, schools and hospitals. These days, we have reversed all that, it is now actually us the modern people that are stealing church land and school land. We have ceased to see any value in the institutions that serve the common good of society. Selfishness has replaced compassion and social responsibility. That is where we are now.
I again say, there is no one now that has any moral authority to condemn, rebuke or reprimand anyone. We have all fallen short of the calling. We have allowed the beast of immorality to consume and grow in us. Our quest to do what pleases us first even if it is at the expense of the common overall good of society and humanity has become a normal thing. It is everywhere, we can see how greedy and the quest for personal gains and self satisfaction has gradually endangered the environment on which we all depend for our future sustainable existential being.
The abnormal has become normal. So, where are we heading to if we have lost trust in ourselves and in everyone else?
In conclusion, it is my view that the country and all of us are indeed yearning for moral leadership which isn’t there right now or isn’t being exhibited. There is a vacuum and this is what the devil of immorality embodied in all the uncouth behaviour that we are experiencing in our midst is stepping out to fill. Hardly are there any moral role models that can be followed or emulated. If at all they are still there, then they must be endangered and thus have resorted to being very reclusive lest they risk their lives.
Let those that are called to be our leaders in this moral crusade pick up themselves and step forward to lead from the front and not from the closets.