Monthly Archives: August 2011

Sanusi Lamido: Fulfilling Prophecy

We all know Collin Powell, The US Secretary of State at the most unfortunate time of Bush Jr. Powell is the black kid that made the white house cool. On the Nigerian side, Sanusi Lamido is the Present Central Bank Governor in Nigeria. The Banker Magazine have awarded Lamido with awards of Central Bank Governor of the year, for Africa and the World. Lamido has always been known for his one-man verbal skirmishes, but now his attackers are from all age ranges due to his position on Islamic Banking; or rather, his attackers position on the issue.

What some may not know about Colin Powell is that “white” people like him; not just the ones in the “white” house. Based on accounts, this is basically what they were saying about him “ooooh I like Collin Powell, he is articulate” (just quoting here). Obama must have taken away his groupies by now. Anyway, the condescending tone brought with it hymns of indignation by some “blacks”. They resented the patronising comment on their fellow “black” brotha. Their response goes like: “… like he aint s’pose t’know how to express himself cuz he black?!”

… in Nigeria

Well… a similar thing is happening in Nigeria on Sanusi Lamido; hardly a crush, more like pulling back animosity. In the space of the heated debate on Islamic Banking, pulling animosity is love, big time. This is expressed with a sigh of sacrifice; sacrificing one’s superiority by promoting Lamido to the same literacy class as the commentators. It is deja vu. One would think it was a stereotypical naive western liberal trying so hard to be politically correct against the will of a suppressed desire for an honest comment.

How patronising the Nigerians commented on Lamido, after a Video Interview on Sahara Reporters. It must have been impressive to his audience to hear him speak English, but to see him hold the interview via Skype was almost a technological blasphemy; Some are probably convinced that he had his secretary set up Skype for him. These keep up appearing on online forums, allow me to paraphrase: “He speaks good English”… “He can express himself”… “Don’t you know he studied abroad?”… “He has some points”… “I’m impressed”.

Just as Collin Powell represented Black America to his commentators, Sanusi Lamido represents Northern Nigeria to these commentators. In no way does the analogy suggest that non-Northern Nigerians degrade Northern Nigerians… Not quite, It is more accurate to say that non-Northern Nigerians undermine the capacity of the Northern Nigerians. To be fair, I think the feeling is mutual. But that is not the focus of this post.

The focus of this post is how Sanusi Lamido has fulfilled the prophecy of the underestimated public figure based on his tribe. Colin Powell did. George Bush did not, he was probably rightly estimated. Obama is definitely not one. Let there come another (a non-Northern Nigerian) who fulfils this prophecy and his chronicles shall be immortalised on this page.

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Affordance of Etiquette

How do you know that doors should always open inwards? How do you know that doors without a pulling handle ought to be pushed? Why do pop-up menus come with only yes/no buttons, why are there no seats at the order counter in mcdonalds? Those are easy questions, the real one is why do you not ask these questions?  

A group of psychologists (and computer scientists) have been designing doors (for example) so that they know exactly how you are going to go through it. I must add that they are yet to design a door for burglars. If this design elites sound like a conspiracy theory… ummm its because this page is designed to make you think so.  

Affordance 

If you have entertained the thought of going in to your house by

 

 pulling the door outwards, you must ve been in for a suprise because it wouldn’t have opened. It is called Affordance (and its not the name of the secret society behind this conspiracy). Affordance is a design feature that guides a user of an object to its proper use, by making it very difficult  to do otherwise. So when next you see the play and pause buttons on your media player on the same button then know that some genius decided that you should never be able to press play and pause at the same time.

 

Etiquette

Well, these are the social and moral standards that a culture abides by; the codes of conduct.

 

True Value of Etiquette

On a shallow reading of etiquette practices, it seems nothing more than a ritual. wash your hands before you eat, say your prayers before you sleep, greet people when you meet, give a farewell before you depart, dont talk while eating. Ofcourse the reasons for these are appealing: health, peace of mind, politeness, to display sophistication etc.

But the true value of Etiquette is its Affordance property. The logic is that Etiquettes become norms, it is easier for us to be normal, we try not to be abnormal (lest we be labeled weirdos).

Etiquettes are not very valuable in themselves but in normality they create, and the uncomfortable-ness they impress on you for not following them . In an office setting, imagine passing by your boss first thing in the morning and not acknowledging them with a greeting/smile. You don’t have to think they deserve the greeting but to not greet them in your head will be like trying to press and play buttons at the same time. The brave and crafty ones could find a way, but I will not expect any good music to be playing afterwards.

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Judgemental Nigerian: A Better Judge

Fact:

1. I know more about cultures around the world than of Nigerian cultures. Until the last five years, I knew very little about the dominant tribe I came from.

2. Many Nigerians display a repetoire of classifying another Nigerian they meet in to a tribe (or State).

Question: If you are a Nigerian outside of Nigeria… How many times have you met a Nigerian and one asked where the other is from immediately after finding out they are both Nigerians?

Question: If you are a Nigerian in Nigeria… When another Nigerian asks you “where are you from?”, do they normally mean your State of residence? (Wrong! if your answer is yes)

The Awkward Silence:

If you listen to it, there is a second of awkward silence when the questoiner finds out that other Nigerian is not from a similar tribe. And hardly any enquiry follows about that tribe, but you can almost hear the “ding” in the head of the questioner.

Two elders are talking about a third person. they are from LocalityY but the third is from a LocalityX.

Elder 1: where do u think elder 3 is from?

Elder 2: he is from LocalityX…

Elder 1: therefore we shouldnt invite him to the event BECAUSE their culture finds that inappropriate

Two young-generation-ers are talking about a third. they are from LocalityY but the third is from a LocalityX.

Young 1: where do u think young 3 is from?

Young 2: he is from LocalityX

Young 1: ohhh u know those LocalityX pple…..

(LocalityX and LocalityY can be substituted with any two tribal localities)

The reaction by the first elder has a clause that gives a BECAUSE phrase. The point is not in the presence of the clause but in its quality and the sympathetic character in it. Even if in the end, the third elder is not invited, the decision comes from an informed, even though judgemental, voice.

In the second dialogue, the same decision is made but it is made from a fearful, selfish and uninformed mind. The reason i didnt include a because part is that it is most likely a heresay that often comes out of the same lowly emotions. Bigotry is begotten and so it perpetrates.

This is the tone in many political discussion forums online. one would assume this is the feeling among most nigerians, even though the online community is not a good representation of nigeria. it is safe to assume that the online community are who we hope to be the future, probably the most prospective future leaders. On the other hand, there are the senior citizens who may or may not know how to use a computer, nor care about it; they may have retired, still in office or never had a white color job. My comparison is between these two extreme generations on the spectrum of probable future leadership of the Nigeria.

The Claim:

In imitating the older generation, younger generation of Nigerians judge tribes that is not theirs, despite lack in quality information about the tribes. They fill this void with cliches like the Igbo only thinks of money, the Yoruba cannot be trusted, the Hausa is a selfish dummy with power. The cliches lead to a dichotomy of Us versus Them.

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Keeping it Real – in Islam (Fi Sabilillah)

If, as mentioned in the previous post, the essence of keeping it real is excellence then it has some implications in Religion. I will talk about Islam being the one most familiar to me. But remember what it means to keep it real in psychology, this is a continuation.

It is a core teaching is Islam to keep it real. Of course in the 7th century AD such slang did not exist, nor was there its equivalent in Arabic. But in the tropes of the time, the prophet said (not verbatim): He who does a good deed for people’s acknowledgement, gets his rewards from the acknowledgement (instantly in this world). And he who does a good deed for God’s acknowledgement, gets his reward when he meets his Lord (God, in the hereafter). (I appologize for lack of reference here, this is a pretty common saying of the prophet. i’ll update the post if I find exactly where it is)

When we were kids, the explanation we had of this hadith was not as you would expect. Our teachers didn’t use to get down like that so they wouldnt know to tell us that it means keep it real. They told us that if one performs their daily prayers so that people can see them, then that person gets no reward from God. Until recently, I have maintained this myopic view.

In light of the new insight from psychology, a new (additional) interpretation is pertinent. The rewards that one gets from people acknowledging their act is a dose of the fluid that they get in to their brains; these fluids are responsible for creating the social reality that makes the person feels so good, as if they have achieved what it is they are aiming for. The reward from God may be in the literal sense, but in addition, it will be the higher internal state reached by the person through humility and more striving. The humility comes from non acknowledgement that protects the ego from the feeling of being “holier than thou” or the retirement that it has done enough worship.

Wanting to show others all the “good” things we are doing can be addictive; after all it is “rewarding” instantly; not too different from the kicks of narcotics.

This also solidifies the claim that good deeds are not ends in themselves, but are means to ends. By “ends”, I don’t mean the afterlife. I mean getting to that higher state of being and just being a better person. Hence, the popular saying of the prophet that one who prays well will have a swift judgement on judgement day. “well” means “keeping it real”.

So when next you want to tell a muslim to do things for the sake of God (fi sabilillah), just tell em to keep it real. If you wanna tell a muslim be God Conscious (dhikr), just tell em to stay real.

Stay Real!

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Keeping it Real in Psychology

Keeping it Real

Keep it Real! you can find it on posters and banners along side “Life is too short, Enjoy it!”. It is the greeting you will want to receive from a Hip Hop fan. It is the best goodbye and sometimes comes as the alias “Stay Real”. It feels good to be acknowledged as being “Real” and then being encouraged to continue.

“Keep it Real” is arguably the most popular phrase in rap. Yet its meaning is so diverse that it can mean almost anything. The “Conscious Rappers” like Mosdef and Common tell us to keep it real. At the same time, the “Gangster Rappers” like Tech 9 tell us the same. The “Grimy Rappers” like Ol’ dirty bastard and RA tell us they keep it real. Does it still have any meaning left? its easier to say what it is not, rather than what it is. For the sake of this post, lets use one if foremost meanings: Excellence.

The next popular phrase in rap is “faking”. that is the opposite of “keeping it real”

…in Psychology

According to Derek Sivers, studies have shown that keeping your goals to your self highly improves the chance that you will achieve those goals. It was tested on two groups of people; first group were told to announce their commitments and the second group were told to keep it to themselves. People from the second group spent more time on trying to achieve their goals, even if it was not achieved in the end. The reason the first group slacked in their effort is that by telling others of their goals, they received accolades, in form of enzymes to their brains (I suppose) which made them feel good. Whereas the second group is working hard to receive their accolades when they achieve their goals.

Surely, this may not be true to all goals but it is an important discovery. The brains of people in the first group are tricked in to thinking they have achieved their goals… illusion, fake!

If you want to keep it real, you will do away with all the “fake” accolades that you get by bragging about your goals. You wait for the REAL accolade that you get when you do achieve your goal. Delaying gratification.

Keep it Real Y’all! Coming soon, is the second part of the Keep it Real series

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