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Who is the enemy of Nigeria?

Ignorance.

The greed.

The lack of empathy.

The mediocrity.

The nonchalance.

The superstition.

The paranoia.

The division.

The confusion.

It can all be traced to ignorance.

I graduated from the university last year, with a degree in engineering. Leaving school meant finally having enough time to invest in learning. Actual learning. Because all I gained for the 5 years of schooling was a sheet of paper.

I can say that in all 20+ years of schooling, I couldn’t point to one teacher afterwards whom I could say I learnt a lot from. All I remember is frantically making connections from the words they dictated from the notes they meticulously transcribed from textbooks they themselves didn’t understand.

Learning made me see the world very differently. I’m currently extremely open-minded, because I shared the experiences of thousands of people from around the world, through the words they wrote, and I understood that my inherited principles weren’t absolute. It dawned on me that:

The earth is a tiny, insignificant pebble in a vast, vast universe. The sun is 1.3 million times the size of the earth, and there are more “suns” (stars) in the universe than there are grains of sand in the whole earth. That insignificance makes me value my existence, as well as not take life too seriously.

My religion is one out of 4,200 religions; it would be arrogant of me to claim mine was definitely the right one, without first observing the 4,199 others, which I can’t do.

There are natural explanations to almost all the superstitious mumbo jumbo I was fed as a child. I can now live my life without unnecessary fear and guilt.

Anything is possible, not if you believe, but if you work for it. I stopped hoping and praying. I started working. Nigeria needs this.

Everybody has a life that is just as important as yours. Respect them.

Knowledge is shallow in Nigeria. There is so much people don’t know. Even simple concepts like the fact that the sun is a star, are relatively unknown to the common Nigerian.

There is something powerful about knowledge. It humbles you. It opens you to the truth that you are not always right, and that there are billions of others like you, each one just as important as you, political or financial status irrespective.

I believe empathy can heal Nigeria, once Nigerians can attain a higher level of enlightenment and drop old ideas, beliefs and superstitions that are holding us back. Forget the politicians. Let’s change ourselves.

Caleb Matthews

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