We allude to the existence of a category of people who are working overtime to ensure we never quite reach those heights we are capable of reaching. In our mind’s eye, they are relatives; the bad guys who don the toga of blood to inflict pain as only they know how. Everyone has “village people”. It’s a staple banter on the streets of social media. When things are not going well or gaining the required traction, we are quick to attribute it to the wiles of village people.
They are members of our extended family who live in rural communities and whom we only get to see once in a while. We imagine them to be mysterious lots who put up an air of friendliness only to set some diabolical machinery in motion when we turn the other way.
In other words, they do not wish us well and are always plotting our downfall.
When we are about to land that dream job and we do not hear from the HR after being told we excelled in the interview, we are convinced it is the work of village people. If our smooth sailing relationship which was headed for the altar crumbles for no clear reason, we lament the machinations of the evil ones also known as village people. When we fall on hard times and can’t seem to crawl out of the doldrums no matter how hard we try, we attribute to the handiwork of village people.
If you are African, you have village people, whether you care to admit it or not. And it is an unwritten rule that they do not mean well for you. That’s why we cast and bind and pray and kabash without ceasing. It doesn’t matter if we do not have proof that such familial enemies exist. As long as we experience seemingly inexplicable challenges, we will continue to conjecture it must be these folks who are committed to our failure.
I have always believed the concept of village people and their penchant for the demonic was exaggerated. I mean…even the lethargic no do-gooder would blame their self-imposed misfortune on the midnight shenanigans of distant relatives who have always despised his mother and are looking to get to her through him.
However, I have another theory concerning village people. The majority of the time, I do not believe they are responsible for the woes along our journey through life. It also amazes how we fail to recognise who the real detractors are, especially when they are the same people whose praises we sing every day. The same ones who have held us to ransom for decades and continue to hold us to ransom.
They are the government across all arms and tiers. The people we voted into power to make things happen for us.
How? You may ask.
When a government official wakes up one morning and broaches the idea of introducing stamp duty on rent in the middle of a pandemic where thousands have lost their jobs, you do not need anyone to tell you they do not have your best interest at heart. When a governor decides to levy residents of a state whose sole crime is providing potable water for themselves by digging a borehole since the same inept administration won’t do it, you need no soothsayer to inform you that they do not care about you.
When soldiers are sent to the battlefield with inferior arms and ammunition and their demands for better welfare are met with threats of a court-martial, no evil trumps that. When our health centres lack the most basic equipment, yet our president jets out to get treated for the most minute physical discomfort, it’s a wonder how it doesn’t translate to wickedness bordering on diabolism for the average Nigerian.
Nigerians, the “village people” who are responsible for your stagnancy or retrogression are your government.
The ones on whose account you block your friends on social media are the same ones “doing” you, not the poor folks in your family who are too busy scrambling for their daily bread.
Think about it for a minute: who’s to blame for the scarcity of jobs and the messiah complex of employers? Heck, who ensures you are already disadvantaged and past the age requirement for fresh graduates when you eventually make it out of school after incessant lecturer strikes. Who sees that the little funds you manage to pull together are spent on nonsensical bills such as fuel for the generator and neighbourhood contributions to fix bad roads and pay for their security even when they already pay tax.
Bureaucratic bottlenecks and never-ending protocols in parastatals and government agencies are deliberate stumbling blocks to frustrate your efforts when you attempt to obtain a permit or some other requisite document to advance your business.
And when you succeed in exiting this clime for greener pastures, you are not spared either. At the mention of your country of origin, you are subjected to extra scrutiny and ill-treatment because they see how convicted felons are celebrated and heralded into coveted seats in parliament in your home count.
All of this culminate in the sorry state we find ourselves. Again, it has nothing to do with your peasant relatives who are just as hard done as you are.