Tom Hebert: Unfavorable gods, corruption and terrible political geography are curses unto Nigeria
Is it possible for a nation to embrace all manner of modern ways without losing its soul?
This is the question asked by Tom Hebert.
Hebert was a member of Nigerian Peace Corps from 1962 to 1964. His last assignment was as National Tour Manager for the University of Ibadan’s Shakespeare Traveling Theatre, which played in 23 Nigerian cities and towns.
He learnt much of this sensibility from his Peace Corps experience in Nigeria.
“I was struck with the care that Nigerian taxi cab drivers gave to their cars mostly small four-door British-made Morris Minors.” Tom Hebert said.
When Hebert asked the driver what has just happened, the driver told him he had just made a blood sacrifice to the great god Ogun, the Yoruba’s god of war and thus of iron, like the one his cab was made with.
At that moment, Tom Hebert realised;
- That there was no such thing as a “Western technological know-how” that the then-Third World (now “developing countries”) would have difficulty learning;
- That somehow their home cultures would necessarily hold them back;
- That if their better angels had the edge then former colonial nations could prosper.
He also said that if not for terrible political geography of a nation created by a colonial master and corruption of Nigeria, the country could now be another South Korea in the making.
He went further and said, with its population of 174 million and Gross National Product of $1 trillion, and despite swerving leadership, bureaucratic rigidity and defective judicial system, Nigeria sometimes seems like a country ready to take off.
Tom said; “Let’s just say that the 1963 event with the chicken blood sacrifice sent my mind in interesting new directions — making me more modest in my Americanism.”
Tom Hebert is a writer and public policy consultant living on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.