Seeking Knowledge and Truth

OPEN LETTER TO NIGERIANS IN DIASPORA III

Dear Fellow Nigerian in Diaspora,

Once again, I have to crave your indulgence and time. Please don’t be mad as we keep going on and on over what binds us together without ceasing. No matter how much some of us wish to pretend that Nigeria’s problem is no longer their problem, we know it is only a ruse because there are days and nights when the news from that country haunts and disturbs even the most carefree among us.

It is difficult to wish away our roots because they have more to do with our individual circumstances even as we try to re-invent ourselves in our borrowed countries. Therefore, until we resolve the nagging problems that have made life inhumanly unbearable for most of us, we should keep the light of the candle of analysis and intellectual ventilation burning.

The two previous letters to Nigerians in Diaspora have not said anything particularly new that has not been mentioned by other concerned Nigerians. All we have tried to do so far is to change the focus of analysis from the national level to the personal level; from hypocritical concerns of shedding crocodile tears over Nigeria’s problems to taking practical effective personal actions over individual’s failings and weaknesses; and from robust attacks on the personalities in charge of Nigeria’s affair to robust personal attacks on individual vices and ignorance. This approach, we believe, will be a much more effective method of curing Nigeria of her spiritual sickness.

In this letter, we shall like to draw attention to a very difficult question. It is the question of what exactly is the truth?

The last letter contained so much references about seeking Knowledge and Truth as the surest way to finding solutions to our national problems. What then is the truth? Is there anything like a universal truth, national truth, tribal/ethnic truth, or ancestral truth?

Is truth peculiar to a particular religious order? Is it specific to a particular professional discipline or academic subject?

The Christian Bible says, ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.’ Does it follow that freedom, the fundamental right of man and the bedrock of development and progress, is dependent on the knowledge of truth? If so, what then is the truth we ought to know before we can throw away our age-long shackles of enslavement and be set free towards attaining real freedom?

Personally, this writer believes that the truth of existence is the most essential truth of all. He strongly believes that if each of us takes time out to explore the basic facts of life, which are available around us, we would be able to deduce what exactly is the truth of existence.

It has to be stated that the facts of life are not the exclusive preserve of any particular field of knowledge. The facts of life embrace all knowledge both known and yet to be known. Since each discipline of knowledge concentrates only on a minute segment of the truth of existence, it will be arrogant of any discipline to claim full custody of the knowledge of existence.

It will therefore be advisable for anyone who is keen about seeking after the truth of existence to endeavour to embrace all fields of knowledge as essential to the discovery of truth.

A seeker of the truth of existence does not have to be a Christian before studying the Bible. Neither does one has to be a Muslim to study the Koran nor a Buddhist to study the Buddhist literature. Similarly, a seeker of truth of existence does not have to be a medical doctor to study the fundamentals of medical science or an astrophysicist to show interest in the stars and planets or an historian to show intellectual curiosity about the history of humankind.

The first huddle a seeker has to cross in the search for truth is the breaking down of the walls of intellectual prejudice and arrogance. A seeker after the truth of existence must learn to scale the walls of exclusion and secrecy erected all over the world by either the fundamentalists of faith and beliefs or the self-serving professional associations. These are the only barriers that can stand between you and the truth of existence.

Let me take this opportunity to say thank you to those that wrote to remind me why the proposal that Nigerians in Diaspora should prepare for eventual homecoming was unrealistic. These letters argued that the volume of funds that Nigerians in Diaspora send home makes a worthwhile contribution to the macroeconomics of Nigeria and a significant difference to the microeconomics of most communities and families.

Nobody can deny the fact that Nigerians in Diaspora have made a lot of sacrifice on behalf of families and friends at home. The unfailing remittances of funds saved from backbreaking jobs are tremendous sacrifices of love and affection.

However, a Chinese adage advises that it is better to teach a person how to fish in order to become self-sufficient than to encourage him/her to remain in a perpetual state of charity.

There is a need for Nigerians in Diaspora to reappraise the monetary offerings to Nigeria. It is a known fact that those at home are not aware of the Herculean sacrifices you are making to secure the funds. The Oliver Twist kind of request for more without a word of thank you for the last fund sent home is enough evidence to tell you that nobody really appreciates what you are doing.

Of course, you cannot blame them since you have jealously hidden the truth of your circumstances from them. Hence, it will be difficult for those at home to understand that those funds are not that easy to come by.

Methinks it would be more advantageous to reduce the many ungodly hours you spent chasing pounds or dollars for a more beneficial engagement like the pursuit of knowledge and truth?

I must apologise for this audacity that is suggesting a reordering of your lifestyles. I am moved to write the last paragraph because as a student of  life I have taken time to look and ponder whenever I observed the suffering of love of fellow Nigerians. I have noticed that the sacrifices made on behalf of families and friends have not yielded fruitful results on both sides. It seems to impoverish the giver and to weaken the resolve of the recipient to act creatively on the problem of political, social and economic deprivations.

Most Nigerians, in our ignorance, have always felt that the only thing that the people at home need from us is money. But the experience of some Nigerians in Diaspora who have braved the call to go home has shown that this is a serious mistake of perception of reality.

Money is indeed one of the problems but Knowledge and Truth are the critical solutions. Unfortunately, Knowledge is the missing ingredient and Truth is the scarcest commodity in Nigeria’s political life.

For over thirty years, the system of education has ceased to teach any worthwhile knowledge to students. Teachers have lost the will to teach as they search for daily bread outside their profession that was wilfully and deliberately ruined by the military dictators.

Both the students and the teachers have since been deceiving each other for over three decades. The student wants ‘good’ certificate, the teacher ask for an offer. If the offer is meant as agreed the student receives a ‘good’ certificate. In this transaction, no knowledge is exchanged.

This is the truth about education in Nigeria that is now producing graduates without knowledge. As a result, these ‘graduates’ have totally and fatally missed out on the most essential purpose or the raison d’être of educational enterprise – the discovery of the truth of life. The prevailing culture of intellectual pretences and educational frauds are serious challenges that Nigerians in Diaspora have to face and overcome in their various communities before they should venture to relocate permanently to Nigeria.

Until we address the culture of intellectual deceit, your desire to set up businesses at home will be doomed before it started. You will be dealing with Nigerians with fantastic paper certificates but who are totally in the dark about the first principle of knowledge in their chosen field. Since the so-called graduates lacked knowledge of what the truth of life means they are therefore not yet set free to think, to reason, and to create.

Fellow Nigerian, your sojourn abroad should be converted into an opportunity to observe at first hand and to reflect critically and objectively about the Global Economic system; to seek understanding about your known and unknown roles as an individual as well as a member of the African race in the system; to seek understanding about the harmful effect of the imperial linkages of this economic system with Africa and with Nigeria in particular; to seek understanding on the philosophy that underpins the Global Economic System; and to discover whether your interest as an African is protected, enhanced or jeopardised by the principles and practices of Globalisation.

It is a shame that most of us even after several years abroad have failed to realise that not all that glitters in the western world is gold. Since we have failed to look beyond the superficial glitters of the institutions of our host countries, we have not been able to see the debilitating relationships between our host country and Nigeria.

We have failed to follow the intellectual debates in the media and in the political arena in order for us to understand their impact on the African race. Because of our lack of interest in the truth of our existence as a sojourner, some of us have gone home to blow a trumpet of a way of life the tune of which we never understood. Some even have plans to replicate the western systems in Nigeria and we become embarrassed when the lofty ideas failed woefully on launching at home.

Dear Nigerian in Diaspora, we have much work to do in the search for what exactly is the truth of life and what indeed is true knowledge? Searching for true knowledge is an area we need to spend more time on if we intend to gain anything from our sojourn in foreign lands. When the die is cast and you are likely forced to relocate, this is the only wealth that can be of use to you in Nigeria. Money, no matter the volume and quantity will be a waste without the knowledge of the truth of existence.

Each of us must find answers to the questions of life. What is life? What is the truth of existence? What is the purpose of life?

Every individual must tackle these questions in his/her own way. Nobody can help another to give answer to the questions. Each must seek and search, as per the natural endowment of intelligence, for the answers with everything you have – your soul.

Your soul is the only precious possession you have. The pursuit of material wealth that is driving some of us crazy is an illusion. Your soul is the only property worth saving when the die is finally cast.

The alarm bell is still ringing. The Global Economic System is built on a sinking soil. It is a question of when it shall finally sink. Now that the system is overheating on all fronts you need to set in motion secondary plans in case it finally gives way. Your host government cannot assure your security when the inevitable collapse of the inhumane system becomes a reality.

Finally, let us remember that in the search for the truth of existence, there is no easy fix.

This writer is of the opinion that it is the desire for an easy fix that has led most people to look onto other miscreant of their kinds as leaders to lead them out of spiritual decay that manifests in political, social, and economic calamities.

It is the desire for an easy fix that has lured many into the nets of fortune-tellers and into the cults of bogus religious and spiritual organisations.

And it is the desire for easy fix that has dictated the strong faith of many in the inalienable power of money as the omnipotent answer to all human problems.

Dear Fellow Nigerian, the search for the truth of life should be the first step any one desiring true happiness in life must take before the rebirth or the reawakening of the soul can take place.

Surely, this is a philosophical journey but there is no mystery in philosophy. Just another word, which expresses the practical and imaginative use of the common senses for holistic observations and the use of the mind for creative thinking and logical reasoning.

Please put your senses to good use, it is the only activity that will confirm that you are indeed and truly a member of the human race.

This important engagement of the use of the senses has strong tendency to promote the development of our spiritual consciousness. Unfortunately, without a spiritual consciousness based on the knowledge of the truth of existence, humanity cannot set its goals and aspirations higher than the pursuit of carnal needs.

For a people hoping to reach the Promised Land of freedom, equality and justice we need to set our goals higher as we make the pursuit of knowledge and truth our first priority.

The messages of these letters are intended to wake up your spirit to the truth of the moment and to sensitise your mind on the need to recognise the fact that your sojourn in foreign lands is divinely designed to prepare you for the role you are destined to play in the glorious battle for freedom in Nigeria.

The writer has a responsibility like you to apply the medicines he has rigorously prescribed for other Nigerians in Diasporas to himself. It is a simple case of heeding the advice that says, ‘Physician heal thy self’.

Therefore, this writer also has a lot of work to do with respect to my personal failings and weaknesses and for the search of the truth of existence. On my part I shall not hesitate to share the findings that come my way with Nigerians because I am aware that my happiness is intricately interconnected with your happiness.

May the spirit of truth help each of us in the fruitful search for the truth of existence and also help us to understand the true meaning of freedom.

May you have a glorious battle for freedom on behalf of your self, your family, your ethnic/tribal community and other Fellow Nigerians.

Yours truly,

In the Spirit of Truth

SAM ABBD ISRAEL

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