There are certain moments during the regular course of our lives that a light bulb switches on by itself. It could be an idea, or the revelation of a truth you had failed to notice, or a mind-blowing realisation that opens you to a whirlwind of emotions. One of such days was the day a client of mine told me “the typical Nigerian doesn’t read.” Of course, if you are African, the line “Africans do not read” wouldn’t be new to you. In fact, it has probably even be trivialised and accepted as a norm. Talk about the curse of the norm. However, this day was a lot different.
I had been writing a series of articles for this particular client for well over a year. What started out as a cool freelance job where I learnt something new every day owing to the nature of topics I wrote about, quickly became a painful experience as I wrote the most trivial and basic of topics. This client had been experiencing a reduction in the engagement people had on his website in terms of views and he was out to fix it. The solution? “Let’s water down the articles some more.” You don’t want to know what the new suggestions were. Of course, there was a limit to how low I could go, so that didn’t work out. My client wasn’t to blame. It really is the system. But it got me thinking.
I noticed that the top blogs of the United States and other developed countries were a lot more different from the ones we had locally. There was a very huge gap in quality, so his explanation that the typical Nigerian isn’t interested in anything informative, shouldn’t have been exactly shocking. It did get me scared though. Scared about the future of the nation and continent as a whole, the future of our kids, and whether or not our generation would have anything tangible to leave for posterity. It doesn’t even help when people keep telling me that starting a Ghostwriting company in Africa falls under the term “disruptive innovation.” It’s just something we’re not ready for – playing for quality content and all. It doesn’t help when what we regard as trivia is a bunch of painfully illiterate questions, being asked to the apparently mass market of ignorant citizens, in order to get a laugh.
It appears my people are comfortable with ignorance. If I don’t do anything about it, they’re children and their children’s children would as well.
I had started this blog on a personal quest for knowledge. Documenting my interests and grouping them as best as I could. Maybe it is time to double back and take as many people as I can take along on the same journey. Maybe it would help me in understanding the rationale behind purposely choosing ignorance over information, knowledge, and in the long run, wisdom. Knowledge rules the entire world. There are just too many things to know for you to spend your whole life in the dark pits of ignorance! Seeing new words for the first time, learning new concepts, understanding the theories behind certain mystical ideologies, the true stories of history that have been cluttered up, knowing about the world, knowing about the mind, knowing about your country, knowing about yourself, or even random events. Knowing is such a beautiful experience that I wonder how people who choose to remain mediocre in mind and in intellect, actually lead their lives. As far as I’m concerned, ignorance is a curse. I think it’s time to make that clear. If you’ve read this far, do join me in eradicating active ignorance.
There’s always a need to know, until you’ve been slammed with a need-to-know.