Thursday, April 09, 2009


We live in a society where young people are encouraged to keep mum, and never question their elders- even in the face of injustice. But does this culture not have a long-term effect in the character formation of such youths, as well as our society as a whole? “Young people should be seen and not heard” they say. And at the end of the day, these young people become timid when faced with the challenge of tackling issues that affect them.

“In our society young people are not allowed to talk or express themselves. It is a norm for them to always be submissive. But unless we change such mentality, we cannot really change our society.” said Natha Ajir, a Sociology student of Ahmadu Bello University . “Recently, I had issues with my School Academic Board. I was given a lower grade that I know I didn’t deserve. When I tried to challenge it by calling for my script to be remarked, I was discouraged. I was told to be content since it was not a carryover mark.” She added.

Like Natha, so many people have different horrific experiences whereby they are denied their right and restrained to tears. It was like acting in a poorly written script where the main character is deprived the right to play his role well. The script is poorly written because our culture has patterned us into believing that it is wrong to argue or question any adult, no matter how right you are.

Daring to challenge the questionable characters or views of those set above us sometimes means exposing oneself to victimization for what the adults will term arrogant or rude. But for how long will we continue to sit tight-lipped as variety of injustice fills every nook and cranny of our society? Joe Hookeham, a British youth, while sharing his perception of the Nigerian society once said: …It is in their culture…there is this notion of unconditional respect, no matter what, to your superiors. These spans from kowtowing to your parents to not questioning those in power, ultimately, not challenging those above you.

The freedom of expression is not just about allowing people to talk at home, in school or in the "marketplace". It also allows them to ask provocative questions and challenge the inadequacy of those entrusted to run our affairs. Those who keep others under their thumb will soon realize that they are the ones denying our society of governments who are accountable. After all, you can’t have accountability in leadership if nobody is free to talk and, ask questions that breeds accountability.

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