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HomePoliticsToward a Pet Theory of Sadism in Nigeria By Pius Adesanmi

Toward a Pet Theory of Sadism in Nigeria By Pius Adesanmi

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Because we have compatriots who live in cloud cuckooland and have, apparently, never encountered N1000-level poverty and deprivation in Nigeria, I am starting to form a pet theory to account for the pervasiveness of lateral sadism in Nigerian society.

There is this proclivity, among ordinary Nigerians, to be extremely contemptuous, dismissive of, or outright hostile to each other’s objective condition.

I alluded to this in the Tonye Cole affair. An ordinary Nigerian cannot stand the idea of this member of the elite facing justice for the death of two poor rural women. Tonye Cole is the victim. However, let an ordinary Nigerian like him or her be responsible for such deaths or even petty stealing, he will look for tire and petrol for immediate jungle justice for this ordinary Nigerian.

Same for those whose first instinct is to form incredulity towards the experience and objective condition of fellow Nigerians at the N1000 poverty level. This same Nigeria that I visit at least once every single year – sometimes twice a year – and even encounter N500 poverty level?

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Now, let Buhari’s son have a motorcycle accident, let Atiku suffer another treadmill accident and citizens who are so contemptuous and dismissive of fellow ordinary Nigerians’ situation will suddenly become reservoirs of compassion and empathy.

My evolving pet theory of lateral sadism is as follows. Humiliation and indignity are the constitutive elements of the daily life experience of the Nigerian vis-a-vis the Nigerian state and the Nigerian leadership. The Nigerian has never known a life outside of what we call asymmetries of power: the state tramples on him and does not treat him with dignity; politicians trample on him an do not treat him with dignity.

Outside of this, he spends his life also bowing to anyone with the slightest authority over him: he is bowing to his Pastor, his Imam, his Oga at the top; his Oga at the top’s wife, etc. Between the state, politicians, and these other socialities, his entire life is spent permanently bowing in socialities defined by asymmetries of power.

Because he is constantly emasculated, the slightest chance he has to also exercise power asymmetry over anybody beneath him, he seizes with both hands. This translates to contempt for and hostility to those equal to him or those under him.

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There is so much ordinary Nigerian to ordinary Nigerian sadism and sociopathy in our society. I am trying to understand that phenomenon. Do you have other explanations?

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