Hi loves. I hope we had a good weekend and are looking forward to having an awesome week. Today’s piece was written by our very own Smish. Have a good read and kindly share. Thanks!
I take a book with me almost everywhere I go, and today wasn’t any different. This is mainly because I have this sad but unintended situation of finding myself in marginally uninteresting to utterly boring places, complete with personalities to match. Needless to say, I am a very interesting person and I love to have fun.
As usual, I stepped inside my PPA (Place of Primary Assignment-NYSC) with a book tucked in my armpit. I had been reading it for days and I must say it has been an excellent read for me. The book is about The Nigerian Civil War and is titled accordingly. It gives a somewhat detailed explanation of the chain of events that led to the war, the happenings in the war itself and the aftermath: in relation to both the Nigerian and the Biafran side. It was written by a British journalist who was on both sides for sometime during the war. I am sure that I’m not very far from the most objective account of the story. Although, there is nothing like hearing from the horses’ mouth, I still firmly believe that reading from a Nigerian author might be tainted by the bias from the author’s viewpoint and ancestry. But objectivity still demands that I still look to other sources, especially Nigerian ones, and that I will do, in due time.
About thirty minutes upon entry into the office, my boss’ big belly stepped in, accompanied by himself* He is a gentle man with an air of pomposity, although he’s anything but. However, he is prone to bouts of loudness as the occasion demands or not. We exchanged pleasantries as usual, and when he spotted the book in front of me, he exclaimed as he picked it up “ah! You’re reading about the civil war, who wrote it?”
“A British journalist on ground during the war! He documented experiences from both sides” I replied.
“Ehen, who told you he was really there? We chased all the white people away, it’s a lie. They just want to sell books”.
I smiled as I painstakingly took him through all the sources the author repeatedly quoted in his book, apart from himself. I was struggling hard to mask my increasing agitation at how he jumped into conclusion as a cheetah would pounce on an ‘escaping’ goat over a matter that he knew next to nothing about and which didn’t even concern him in the first place.
“See, all these books are always trying to deceive you” he finally said. “I spoke to a civil war veteran once, in 2004…”
He went ahead to give me another account that sounded flawed, from contradictory arguments to biased viewpoints. The exact opposite of what I hoped to achieve by reading the book, via an opinion I never asked for. And I smiled through it all. Good ol’ me.
This experience reminded me of another episode I had with him just about a month ago. This time I was reading a book titled “How Come That Idiot’s Rich And I’m Not?” and upon inspection, he said “all these people are liars, they just want to sell books”. In my mind, I was like “sorry sir, but I’d believe a lying dollar-centi millionaire over any truth you can tell me about making money, thanks for your opinion anyways, it’s been invaluable”
Beyond all these, I could sense a subtle opposition for books and this drew me into a line of thought. Books shouldn’t give or impart knowledge directly; they should serve as a guide light on the road to enlightenment. Don’t get me wrong, you can read books and learn from them, but you can never know if what you’re learning is correct until you see different viewpoints (especially for historical based books) and are able to pass an accurate judgment for yourself. After all, the book is a reflection of the author’s thoughts (except scientific findings, those don’t require your judgment. They are mostly established facts). In this context, opposition to books means opposition to new information. From my boss’s reaction to books, I can deduce that he is not willing to unlearn what he has already learnt although it might be incorrect. I mean, if you’re rejecting almost every new piece of information that you come across, under the guise of ‘they just want to sell books’, where do you get your own version of new information from, your friends? The ones that are exactly like or almost the same as you?
Voicing out your opinion about a topic is basically saying that you have relevant information about it, which guides your stand and worldview around that topic. But what if you’re wrong, new information helps you to know other’s opinion about it. But how can you judge when you refuse to be open to it? You can only pass opinions based on what you know right? And that’s what my boss was doing, he saw something that disrupted his status quo and he refused to allow it, to avoid misinformation maybe, but you can only be misinformed if you allow yourself to be. After all, different angles produce a more accurate picture. Isn’t that why we prefer our movies in 3D? But my boss is a poor man; he can’t afford 3D glasses or a standard 3D television. His mind is accustomed to one dimension of things, Chimamanda’s prototype of the ‘one story’ scenario. He isn’t learning, thereby making himself mentally bankrupt. I didn’t call my boss poor because of material wealth but because of intellectual wealth. He is poor because he has peaked in a very low place. Maybe that’s why his material possessions have mirrored his intellect. Afterall, the bible says “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”
*my boss’s belly isn’t that big, but it’s still there regardless, I only exaggerated it for a comic effect.
Kindly share your thoughts in the comment section 🙂3