The Allegory of the Nigerian Cave: The Sorry-Predicament of the Ignorant

nnamdi kanu 2

The world is but a theater of historical events, were experiences keep recurring and replaying themselves in the minds, intentions, and deeds of men. Hence there’s nothing the eyes see so unprecedented that could cause them to bleed, neither is there any news so unheard of that could cause the ear drums to explode indeed whatever is happening has somehow somewhere previously happened and so there isn’t strictly speaking an ‘unprecedented event’, life is like a recurring decimal. The recent political events happening in Nigeria presents us with unprecedented shocking scenes that serve as a perfect backdrop to this write up.

In the past few months or weeks quite a lot has happened in the Nigerian political space which has also seen the Nigerian government act with so much unprecedented speed that hasn’t been witnessed in the country before. Hence one begins to wonder if the government could act with such alacrity in fixing the economy and infrastructural needs of this country Qatar, Japan and Singapore wouldn’t come any close to us and we would probably be competing with the likes of US and China but that’s by the way.

The great Greek philosopher Plato once told us an exceptional philosophical story imbued with a lot of significance that I think fits perfectly as an explanation to explain part of the surprising events that have been unfolding gradually in this country of unending surprises.

Plato tells us about a dark cave which represents ignorance. In this allegory some are born in this dark cave they grow and develop in it without having any contact with true light and so they assume their world to be the only true and ideal world that there is. According to Plato once when a horse passed across the cave following its contact with outside light its shadow was cast against the cave walls, the citizens of the dark cave however, inadvertently assumed the horse’s shadow to be the real horse and indeed they also thought same of other shadows that were cast against the cave walls. Going further Plato presents us with the most disheartening scenario of the cave people’s predicament. Plato says that if one of the cave people fortunately finds his way out and encounters what the true light really is together with what true horses, birds and men truly are, being so shocked and overwhelmed with the reality of the true nature of the world he enthusiastically returns back to the cave to minister to them about the wonders of the true reality that he has encountered and to consequently liberate his kinsmen from their state of the perpetual ignorance. The ignorant cave people assuming he has come to deceive and hoodwink them into his own world of madness will quickly seize him, accuse him of heresy, apostasy, blasphemy, treason, terrorism and summarily execute him. And this according to Plato this is the sorry-predicament of the ignorant. They have become so beclouded and bemused by their state of ignorance that the assume and believe with deep conviction that their dark cave world of ignorance devoid of the light of truth, uncharacterised by reasoned thinking and natural understanding is indeed the true world, the true reality. But alas! They are so meshed up in their ignorance and lust for worthless things that they can no longer think clearly and so they culpably walk straight into existential damnation. Does this relate to the current political situation in Nigeria? Let’s proceed.

A cursory glance at history will present us with snapshots of major moments in world history that have came to be known as the turning points in the political, economic, social, religious, philosophical trajectory of the world. These are the famous world revolutions that started from mere individuals and grew into national revolutions before consequently transmogrifying into global revolutions. Among these are the French revolution, American revolutions, and Arab spring (and there’s no African revolution if you’re expecting to see one at least not yet).

These revolutions usually mark a mental breakthrough from the status – quo ushering the people of the age and indeed their progenies into a new age of mental and existential emancipation. This upheaval usually marks a mental – paradigm shift, a movement from the dark cave of ignorance to the world of truth and knowledge.

These monumental history-making paradigm shifts are usually spearheaded by unique breeds of historical playmakers whose rare revolutionary ideas do not usually fit with the status-quo minded persons who prefer to remain in their comfort zones than take the leap of faith as Soren Kierkegaard would admonish. The likes of Moses, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Martin Luther Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Odimegwu Ojukwu amongst others are examples of these rare breeds who saw beyond the veil of the present into the future and dared to take the leap of faith.

Since the inception of this country – an unsolicited marriage – for over a hundred years now the country has been rocked by a cascade of unending agitations ranging from the Northern Sharia movement, the Boko Haram, Middle Belt agitations to the Niger Delta agitations by militants. But Nigeria has only witnessed one revolution that truly shook its very foundations – the Biafran revolution (1967-1970) which was accompanied by a civil war. Why do I think of it as a revolution and not an agitation?

There are basic differences between an agitation and a revolution. In an agitation the cause is primarily focused on a particular thing mostly material and usually serving a sect or group in the short term, on the other hand revolutions are ideology based targeting a mental paradigm shift from the status-quo to a new truth, reality and it is usually all-encompassing even though it might initially start with a group. The first Biafran revolution in Nigeria failed and that explains why Nigeria became worse after the war performing badly even when compared with its state before the war, and with it Africa (considering its strategic position and influence). During the war Ojukwu commented on the real reason behind the war. Together with the threat of genocide and marginalisation faced by the Biafrans he added that the Biafrans wanted to build “a healthy, dynamic and progressive state, such as would be the pride of black men world over”. Corroborating this Njoku writes “Biafra was the nearest thing which any African state came close to challenging themselves to producing their own goods and adopting foreign goods to their own tastes and challenges. Biafra was defeated but its example for the black race is yet to be surpassed”. These assertions support my claim that the first Biafran struggle was more than a mere agitation but offered us a promising revolution the likes Africa had not witnessed before.

The revolution is here again presenting itself in a different guise but with the same purpose. But the sorry-predicament of most ignorant dark cave Nigerians is that the actually think their present Nigerian state to be comfortable, suitable and should be nurtured and grown hence their trite rhetoric of; ‘one Nigeria’, and ‘the unity of Nigeria is sacred and non-negotiable’. This uncivilised and undemocratic narrative is a falsehood from a totalitarian and dictatorial pit of hell. Their sorry-predicament stems from their undemocratic feudal mindset that thrives in an oligarchic ideology where the power-conscious and wealth-embezzling elite few subdue their credulous imbecilicly docile mass proletariats who have been drugged with the opium of religious and ethnic sentiments such that they have been anesthetised from their pains of existential sufferings and ignorance. And so when the historical playmaker that has seen the light of reason and truth comes to liberate his people these marauding and enslaving power-drunk elite brand him terrorist and his servile, beggarly and gullible brothers in their deep-seated ignorance proscribe him. This is the reality about Nnamdi Kanu’s struggle for Biafra and his consequent proscription.

They are so myopic that their vision for life and for their upcoming generation ends with the next election. And it’s not their fault they just cannot think beyond that level. Their minds have just been programmed to focus on the immediate pleasure a mental attitude even the epicureans would cringe at.

It is indeed unfortunate, pathetic and particularly disheartening when one finds oneself in this kind of generation and individuals whose minds have been ill-wired who simply cannot understand that the reality of life is above elections, political appointments, contracts, and huge budget-draining salaries. For a country and a people whose senators earn over 30million naira a month as salary and fringe benefits, it’s hard for you to think that they would think any good of you. If you are still wallowing in the delusion that someone earning that much would sit down to discuss ‘restructuring’ – a structure that is intended to bring parity into the Nigerian system, or ‘referendum’ that is intended to end marginalisation and return power to the masses – then you should check yourself because it is either you are suffering from a partial amnesia or you are probably in a psychotic trance (if there’s anything like that).

But hope still stands tall because the arc of history always bends towards truth, reason and justice and so the no matter how long Nigeria chooses to remain in its dark cave of ignorance and no matter how many prophets of reason she maims and murders. The revolution will keep resurfacing till it actualises itself (its historical purpose). Today it’s IPOB, tomorrow it’s another name with the same purpose. The forces and contradictions against it only help to fine-tune and propel it into full strength and capacity to be able to carry out the magnitude of change it is meant to bring. It’s an idea that cannot die unless it fulfils its purpose you can proscribe its human bearers but you cannot proscribe the idea, you can kill and maim the agitators as has been done but you cannot kill the idea. An idea that survived a civil war and over fifty years of excruciatingly tormenting marginalisation cannot be killed and buried by the show of cowardly force by a single administration.

It’s important to note that the tenets of this ideology are far deeply entrenched in the basic yearnings of the human spirit; freedom, truth, justice and reason. These make up the core of human nature and purpose and so cannot be easily dismissed by a mere state proscription. The carriers of this idea are different from the idea itself and so their modus operandi might vary slightly or even temporally scuttle civil order but the idea remains unchanging and unwavering. It therefore takes intelligent, wise and prudent leaders to decipher the underlying principle behind this revolution or agitation (as some may call it) to be able to address it.

The idea is a state of consciousness that pervades Nigeria and Africa and until we learn its lesson history will keep repeating itself. Yesterday it was Ojukwu today it is Nnamdi Kanu, tomorrow it could be you, me or anybody. And this is the allegory of the Nigerian cave.

Augustus Chukwu U.




2 thoughts on “The Allegory of the Nigerian Cave: The Sorry-Predicament of the Ignorant

Add yours

  1. Sorry-predicament of the Nigerian State, and the Allegory of the Nigerian Cave indeed. You are parallel with the Struggle for Self-Determination. I sight you bro!


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