Wilson Orhiunu

First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu

(Email: Twitter: @Babawilly)

It is a sad thing to behold a youth robbed of confidence. Onlookers wonder why not even a fraction of the great potential is converted to something meaningful. The Naija phrase for this phenomenon is talent dey waste.

Everyone has a talent for something but the motivation to transform potential into something concrete is however not a universal experience.

Confidence snatchers

All babies come with supreme confidence that is till they begin to understand language. Soon the limitations of parents get transmitted to the child and confidence reduces. The degree of diminishing confidence is directly proportional to the height of the parental issues. Parental issues could be decreasing, stable or increasing.

Decreasing parental issues – When a parent is the village thief specialising in the theft of yams but then decides to upgrade his business to chicken theft without the necessary research and development, he gets caught (for while a stolen yam weeps silently, the village chicken raises the alarm while being abducted). The thief is then paraded at the village square next to ‘exhibit Number One’.

This disgrace cures him of stealing and even though the children have a stigma to live down, the blow to their confidence is single and with time they recover.

Stable (constant) parental issues – These are issues that are going nowhere. A parent who keeps on verbally abusing the children in their formative years robs them of all dignity. These parents usually have no confidence to do anything innovative with their lives and just sit and watch for any family member to put their heads above the parapet. The Americans say “punks get up to get beat down”. This parent, typically male, calls all family members punks and should anyone so much so as laugh or start a new hobby, they get a verbal lashing. Children of Mr Koboko tongue need Jesus and an ocean of anointing oil to discover what confidence means.

Increasing parental issues – These are the parents who could be described as the ‘Warren Buffets’ of the issue world. They have a finger in every pie and a toe in every moin moin.  Drink, drugs, fighting, prison, swearing even when asleep, prostitution and gambling.  Name it! They just do it like Nike. They really meant ‘till death does us part’ during their weddings and would not hesitate to ‘take out’ a family member. All the children here have no business with learning the word which comes between confetti and configuration in their dictionary.

The second blow

Some governments take over from where the crazy parents left off.  Not providing quality education for the populace robs the youth of their confidence. The political classes know the relationship between knowledge and self-esteem and make sure their children are educated in foreign universities. When resources for research are denied the local universities, aiming for the Nobel Prize is never on the agenda. Pressing needs are marking examination papers and averting student riots. How come Oxford University students do not riot sef?

African youths watch from a distance as their leaders jet around the world and conduct interviews with the foreign press displaying a bad taste in English sentences, dressing and logic. They watch youths from the developed world set up successful technological companies and win everything at the Grammies and Oscars while they marinate in their inferiority, languishing in a Hot and Dark Continent eating crumbs which fall off the technological table i.e. a life time gazing at smartphones and spending time on Twitter.   Young geniuses in Lagos are reduced to motor mechanic apprentices and without enough confidence to change the engine oil of Sergey Mikhailovich Brin’s car not to talk of chatting to the Google founder.

All because the governments of Africa boldly walked into the information age without a 24-hour electric supply and plans for nationwide internet access.

Change possible?

What happens when one who had bad parents and lives in a country with a bad government finds themselves in adulthood and having the kind of self- esteem so low that you have to drill deep down to find?

Realise you were not brought up but dragged up

You need to begin again and relearn everything you have learnt about yourself.  “Your brain is not good” was a phrase used in some families back in the day when a child made an error.  Imagine the horror of growing up thinking your brain and the ideas it produces are bad. In the same vein, those who produced good ideas are deemed to have good brains. A family that rushes to condemn at the first failure probably does not know that the people ‘outside’ they admire had been having failed attempts for years before they finally succeeded. The difference is that their families supported them through the failed attempts and kept these failures private.

Be free from the shame of not knowing

I always find it interesting how during Royal visits in the UK the hosts take great pains to explain to the Queen how their business or equipment functions. Great people have no problems asking questions. Most people are very knowledgeable in only one field and ignorant in most. We are all ignorant learners.

Have faith

Having an issue-ridden parent in a poor country produces a teenager starved of confidence with a poor destiny.  Any other outcome requires a miraculous impartation of hope, faith and confidence. My Christian experience teaches me that the Bible’s Hebrews 11 is a good place to start.

Test case

Larry Page was born to Carl Page Snr PhD Computer Science & Professor of Computer Programming in 1973.

Sergey Brin was born in Russia to Mikhail Brin Professor of Mathematics in 1973 and the family migrated to the USA.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page met in Stanford University and Google was born.

Now how confident are the Google founders?