20 Aug 2013


By Ezim Osai,
Tuesday, August 13 2013

In Nigeria today, the phenomenon of inferiority complex amongst the average youth is seemingly high. The desire to be accepted by the "Cool Kids", or to be a member of the team has driven a number of individuals to their jeopardy. Around me, I see youths who are put through hell just to prove their commitment to causes that are sometimes very petty and trifling.

As a student in secondary school, tales of ‘bamming’ in cults were peddled by students, and  we always took them for what they were,  “Tales”. That, of course, was until one of our classmates went ahead to become a member of one of these cults. From what I have heard, it is said that during the ‘bamming’, or initiation process if you may, the initiates are tied to trees and then flogged with the flat side of machetes or whipped with ‘kobokos’ and through this ordeal, must shout only the name of the cult. If the initiate survives this process, he is given a rank (sort of like a social status) in the cult and a weapon (In some cults).
Those who do not scale through this process, i.e  those who either scream something other than the name of the cult while being flogged or pass out during same are left by the roadside. The equivalent in female cults is that the initiate is made to have intercourse with all members of the male wing of the cult or sometimes, steel rods are inserted into their genitals. All these I heard from “confirmed men” I knew back then,  and as such I cannot vouch for the veracity of these tales.  However, one cannot but wonder why an individual would want to undergo such torture to be initiated into a confraternity that can neither add positively to one’s future nor erase the problems of the past. Why then is this desire to “belong” so intense?

Recently, I heard about a part one girl who was morally upright since she got into the university, and then one night, after much persuasion from her friends, agreed to follow them to a nightclub. While in the nightclub, and under the influence of alcohol, this girl got down and dirty with a man she did not know prior to the night. She probably thought she was not being seen, and had no idea  talk of her escapades had spread into campus and to the ears of her boyfriend who of course, broke up with her. One cannot blame the boy of course but the question is why the girl allowed herself to fall in such a predicament.
A couple weeks ago, I was listening to The Beat 97.9 FM and the presenter talked of a letter she received from a young lady of 21 years of age. This young lady had three younger siblings and a mom and  she had lost her dad when she was 16. The presenter said that according to the letter, the young lady wanted to go to the university but her family could not  afford it as her mother was merely a trader who dealt in traditional fabrics and textiles. She [the presenter] said that the mother of this young lady usually  sent her with packages to deliver to her late father’s friends and these men usually wanted something other than just those packages. They ‘touch her body’ and most times sleep with her and at the end of the “delivery” give her some money. According to the presenter, the mother of the young lady is saving up this money and with time she would be able to use it send her children to school and further expand her business. However, the young lady has started to feel that these acts are acts of prostitution but she cannot really do anything about it since it was her mother who sent her in the first place. The young lady according to the presenter said she was thinking of running away but the thought of her younger siblings and her mother always held her back.  The presenter asked for help from the general public in advising this young lady and I felt I should give my piece here.
First and foremost, the background of this lady is important to note. She has only her mother for comfort and trust. The situation is a bit of a dilemma and it seems as if there is no solution but alas, if there was no solution, it would not be a problem at all. What I would say is that the young lady should find something she can do with her hands to earn her money and if possible, get her younger siblings to do something as well. It will be hard for her to actually start up at first but determination can move mountains and persistence can break walls. The young lady according to the presenter does not know whether or not her mother knows about what these men do but personally, I think she does. In order not to break her family or put the future of her siblings in danger, it would be wise and humanely to forgive her mother whether she wants forgiveness or not. The past is dead but the present is here and it is the little things we do today that shape our future. The plight of this young lady is horrendous but with significant force of will and a desire to be better, things will work out, “If everything is not ok, it s not the end” .
The question at hand now is why some of our Nigerian youths feel this intense desire to prove to their ‘friends’ that they too are ‘hard men or hard ladies’? The answer of course lies with the individual but I would attempt to employ a holistic approach. In my opinion, it comes from neglect beginning from childhood. It could be by never getting the things their mates got or having the things they had or even by teasing from their colleagues and classmates. They may have then grown up feeling that they are  incomplete or inadequate and when they finally meet people who notice them, they tend to do all that they can to keep those ‘friends’ and sustain the feeling of kinship. This feeling may or may not be false but the lingering feeling of inadequacy is what drives them to do what their mates are doing and more and this in some cases might not augur well for the wellbeing of such an individual. In the case of the young lady in the previous paragraph, it is hard for me to conclude that hers is a case of inferiority complex because although I would not let an older lady have intercourse with me because my father sent me to her and she gives me money, I cannot say the same for the lady. It would take a lot of willpower to stop something set in motion for such a period of time and especially when we have to stand up to somebody we love or respect.
Another cause of this inferiority complex or desire to prove is actually gratitude. An individual might have been going through a very serious problem and when someone helps them solve it, they feel this intense gratitude to the person that they would do anything to please that person. If you may have watched the popular TV series, The Vampire Diaries, instances of this overwhelming gratitude is seen in the form of the “Sire bond”. Needless to say, this feeling may not be common to every person but to those it happens to, may be a really tough coat to shake off.
To rid oneself of this feeling, one may do something equally life-changing for the person we feel the gratitude towards or if the second party truly cares about our feelings, would not let us behave in a debasing manner so as to please them.
Inferiority complex and the desire to belong to something are feelings we can rid ourselves of if we are independent enough. The man who knows his own worth and quality does not need anyone to make him feel special because he already knows he is. Tuface Idibia said it in his song See Me As Your Brother that “ We are all gifted and unique in our own different ways” and the sooner we know that we are shining stars, torchbearers of the next generation and kings among men, we will get rid of all feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.

Ezim is a 200L Physics major at the University of Ibadan. A Taoist and a Christian, he loves Cooking, Travelling, Reading, Writing, and loves to absorb nature.

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