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The master-slave syndrome

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master-slave syndrome

By Sunny Ikhioya

I WAS profoundly touched after reading a piece entitled: “Reflections on Nigerian House Negroes and their late ‘massa’, Abba Kyari” by one Chris Obiekwe in one of the social media platforms. My concern here is not Abba Kyari, the late chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari but on the mentality that has held the Black race down, all through centuries and till today.

According to Obiekwe’s narrative: “If you have not done so, please take time to watch a 1960 video of Malcolm X explaining the difference in mindset between the house negro and the field negro in a typical slaveholding plantation in America….When the master is sick, the house negro says ‘massa, we sick’. The house negro sees himself as the extension of his master.

He has no sense of self-worth, self-responsibility and self-value. He lives in the master’s house and wears relatively good clothes. He is fiercely loyal to his master to the detriment of his life and freedom. He loves his master and is willing to kill his own to protect his master.

“The field negro is the one who bears the brunt of working in the cotton fields from morning till night. He is poorly fed, poorly clothed,  always whipped and brutalised. He feels and understands the wickedness and evil of his enduring oppression. So when the field negro tells the house negro to join in an escape plan to secure freedom, the house negro always declines. He prefers being a ‘comfortable’ slave to being a ‘free man’”.

Are you seeing this trend of the house slave in us? He is the master slave, the educated elite, some of whom have enjoyed scholarships, scooped from the labour of indigent peasants, to go and receive the White man’s education and to come back and help build the society. Do you see the house negro in us?

We are prepared to sell our souls to please our foreign masters and that is why no breakthrough has been credited to Nigeria three months after the coronavirus pandemic hit Africa. We have heard of Madagascar, Senegal and neighbouring Ghana battling hard to come up with home grown solutions but our officials here are insisting that we must be lap dogs  to the World Health Organisation, WHO, even when that body doesn’t seem to have any solution in sight.

That is the master-slave mentality. But why are our master-slaves insisting that we must do things the way the masters want? Because it gives them recognition in the international community; they are sponsored and invited for trainings and seminars abroad, with handsome rewards, so that one creates more value for them than a focused look at the underdevelopment of their own nation and continent.

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We must note that no nation achieves true independence on a platter of gold; our people must be ready to confront these man-created obstacles like the field negroes. We must think freedom and indigenous development; the master-slaves will always prefer that we remain the way we are because of the benefits that accrue to them. Incidentally, these ones are in control of all the organs of government in Africa.

Once in a while, someone among them will experience the eureka moment and try to point at the direction of progress, but such ones are deliberately frustrated by entrenched interests in collaboration with their foreign masters. We have seen it in Julius Nyerere of Tanzania,  Sekou Toure of Guinea, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and others.

The former AU Ambassador Chihomburi Arikana is the latest among the lot to narrate her story; how our so-called friends in the West are deliberately subjecting Africa to perpetual slavery and when she drew the attention of African leaders to this, she was quickly relieved of her job. African master-slaves in collaboration with the foreign masters ensured that she was removed.

According to her, every former French colony was made to sign a “pact for the continuation of colonisation” where 85 per cent of their income derived from exports are placed in France as reserves, while the same countries will be going to Paris to secure loans from France at high interest rates, culminating in over $500billion loss every year. And, those countries that refuse to play along with them have their economies sabotaged like in the cases of Guinea and Mali.

It is the same situation in Nigeria; our leaders have traded our independence for their own comfort; that is why they have refused to fund healthcare, because they can easily run to Europe to enjoy the facilities that they have over there.

That is why they have refused to look into education, because they can easily afford to send their children abroad; and that is why they have also refused to fund researches, because it does not bother them. That is why the National Assembly budget is almost three times the budget for education  in a country of 200 million people. But, thank God, the coronavirus pandemic has brought everyone to the same platform. Even if you have ailments different from the coronavirus now, you are not allowed to go to hospital.

People are dying, but we don’t know whether it is caused by coronavirus or other sicknesses like malaria, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and others; everyone is at home and no one knows what to do, except to experiment. They say it is a novel experience; there is presently no absolute cure for it. While nations are furiously researching, looking for solutions, Nigeria is waiting for experimental drugs to be used in testing our people.

The people have not shown clear desire to find local solutions; even if we do not accept our herbal remedies, what about our trained pharmacists, doctors, and other medical scientists; what are they doing? How long will it take to develop our own local remedy for coronavirus?

If we do not venture, we will never succeed; every medicine that has been produced under contrived environments have their origin in natural plants and herbs. If Madagascar can come out to say that they have a cure and their President is emphatic about it, we should see it as a good development and be challenged to do same. In science, collaboration is allowed.

By now, I expect that we should have sent people there for more studies instead of the grandstanding that has been our lot in recent times. The behaviour of our master-slaves is the bane of Africa; we must remove that mentality. It is the same factor that has made ethnicity and religion to take precedence over rational thinking and views.

Some people are using religion not to bring spiritual conviction but to impoverish people and by extension, the nation. The same with ethnicity: this is supposed to bring out the beauty in diversity, where each nation will manifest its comparative advantage and agglomerate it with the whole to bring about a plurality of products and ideas that will ensure shared prosperity for all.

But, here we use ethnicity as a tool to dominate and oppress others. When you look deep at those behind these retrogressive actions and the ideological backing, what you see are master-slaves, the house negro, in the midst confusion and backwardness; they are thriving,  accumulating wealth that will end in foreign lands. This master-slave mentality must be totally expunged before we will see the light of day.

Ikhioya wrote via


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