About 9 years ago when she was — (and still remains so till today) — the most effective leader and administrator in the affairs of Food and drug safety and administration in Nigeria, she said it just as I’ve always ruminated in my mind.
“One of our problems in this country”, Dora Akunyili meanly said, “we laugh too much”.
Of the little public positions I’ve had to occupy its leadership in a few years of my lifetime, I’ve noticed the urge and impulse of Nigerians to crack jokes at the slightest of opportunity. That’s not exactly the problem. The issue is that it has evolved to a reflex such that there’s no consciousness about what shouldn’t need any form of jokes at all. Hence, every damn thing is a comedy material. Whenever I’m leading in my little responsibilities, I frown at too much laughter because I know that the people I’m dealing with have a reflex they can’t control anymore. And so, I realize I’ve always achieved more that way.
I really find it troubling that many are simply enjoying and making a joke of animals being reported as looters of public money. We are laughing too much to our detriment. The folks serving these bland tales really want you to get distracted and unserious while they keep on at their malfeasance. The Igbo would say that “oké mmụkọ na-ebute oké mkpalị” — too much laughter begets too much negligence and insult from others”.
The International Community is watching us in tripled contempt not because of the stupid, bizarre news from our shithole zoo but because many had the guts to make a joke of it at all when they could have frowned more fiercely. The comedian on stage doesn’t take you seriously again the moment you begin to laugh to all his jokes. He simply increases his contempt of you having seen the power of keeping you stupid which he wields over you. That is exactly what the Nigerian government officials do to and with you.
Again, re-echo Professor Dora Akunyili, “one of our problems is that we laugh too much in this country”.
Chijioke Ngobili wrote this