by Lanre Olanrewaju
There are 9 million bicycles in Beijing. All of them are set on fire. The use of fire extinguishers made in (or transported through) Nigeria is employed to put an end to the incendiary proceedings. All but one of the fires are put out. The bicycle, in that case, burns to the ground, to ashes, to pieces, etc. It’s existence now (on the ground, as ashes, in pieces etc) is declared a function of the fact the fire extinguisher was made in Nigeria. Certainly, definitely, unquestionably – agreements, nods, cheers. Burn the fire extinguisher to the ground. Throw the rest of them in the pile. Will a fire extinguisher set on fire actually burn? Will its contents extinguish the flame once the casing succumbs to the flame? Who knows? Burn them anyway.
I have no idea if (or, for that matter, why ever) fire extinguishers from Nigeria would be used in Beijing (or any other parts of China, or Asia even.) This would, of course, require fire extinguishers to be made in (or ferried through) Nigeria to begin with but the most remote possibility of that is another thing I have no idea about.
The only reason an analogy as poor as that could possibly make any sense would be the pervasiveness of the very pattern of thinking it’s predicated upon. If something goes wrong with another something, which has something or the other to do with Nigeria, the wrongness of the original something will inevitably come down to its Nigerianness.
That this ideological (for want of a more fitting term) stance is often taken by Nigerians themselves might appear to lend credence to it. Who sees the ‘anyhowness’ of Nigeria and Nigerians more than Nigerians in Nigeria. Who knows you better than your family and what not. Except of course when that family compares you (negatively) to peers of yours they might know (of), ignorant of the fact said peers engage in the sort of behaviour that would surely send them into instant cardiac arrest.
So cardiac arrest happens. Skip to the part where they survive but their doctors find out they have a condition for which the only course of action is a heart transplant. Somehow there’s no cardiothoracic surgeon available. There is a heart, though. Somehow. Alright then, so, surgery next. No cardio surgeon available. But there’s this guy, several years of neurosurgery under his belt. Pretty awesome, yeah? Somehow he offers to handle the procedure. He’s a god in his field, what could go wrong? But something does. Simple transplant turns into saying your last goodbyes before the life support machine is unplugged. So what happened then? Oh yeah, he’s a neurosurgeon. He neglected to mention this to you. You didn’t think to ask, either, having minimal knowledge of this stuff, as is expected to be the case anyway.
But, all things (or at least a lot of things) being equal, this is entered into evidence in the court which exists only to prove the guilt of all Nigerian doctors. It’s not, you know, a function of this individual neurosurgeon for, for some reason, not explaining that this was beyond his expertise and experience. When this happens in an NYSC camp – it’s because Nigerian doctors are dumb, the young ones even dumber.
Likewise when it doesn’t happen. Bound by ethics, and in many cases, due to fear of situations like that, you’ll find many a young medical professional skeptical of attempting treatment of cases they know to be beyond their experience, as well as capacity (NYSC ‘clinics’ being cesspools of doom, after all.) This in no way means they are bad at their jobs – they aren’t incompetent for not knowing things they aren’t supposed to know. The neuro-god isn’t incompetent for being unable to perform cardiothoracic surgery on the fly. He isn’t supposed to know how to. He’s incompetent for not expressing that it’s beyond his expertise. And that is entirely on him. He’d be pretty awesome at brain surgery. If you ever have a Cerebral Aneurysm, call him. And while there may be systemic failures that mean that there’s a strong likelihood those two factors could very easily contribute to that being the case, if they are bad at their jobs, it’s not (just) because they’re young, or Nigerian. Most of them are pretty awesome.