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« The Two Levels of Ego Defenses | Main | Is mental Illness a Product of Choice to be Evil? »

April 15, 2006

Igbos Must Heal their Tendency to Jealousy

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- One of the sad aspects of human beings is that they tend to want to hear mostly nice things said about them and resent those who point out their negative traits. The bad news bearer is always resented by the broad masses of humanity.

Nevertheless, we, the observers of humanity as they are, not as they think that they are, must state the truth as we see it, and take our abuses from those who misperceive our altruistic intentions to help improve humanity.

I am an Igbo. I have all that is good and bad in Igbos in my characterological make up. Therefore, whatever I see in Igbos I see in me. I am not a neurotic who sees something bad in him, denies it or dissociates from it, and projects it to other people. I fully accept that what I see in others I see in me.

I see Igbos as very competitive. Their culture rewards those who compete effectively and win in competitions. As a result of the competitive nature of Igbo culture, all Igbo wants to win, for each of them knows that if he fails that his culture would see him as no good and possibly reject him.

(When I was in school, if I made second in my class, my father chewed me out. Since I attended school with Hausas, Yoruba’s and other Nigerians at Lagos, father would say: how come you permitted an awusa boy, Nnama, to beat you? A Hausa boy, Bashiru Aminu was always making first in my classes. Father called me anuohia etc. Father, like most Igbos of his generation, believed that Igbos are special and better than other people; he simply could not accept the obvious fact that Hausas are as smart as any one else. The fact is that all human beings, white or black, Igbo or Hausa or Yoruba or Edo or Efik or Ijaw, man or woman, are the same and are equal.)

You get the point; Igbo culture expects all Igbos to excel in whatever they are doing and does not countenance failures. We sing praises to our winners and vilify losers. We heap positive reinforcements and rewards on winners and ignore, even shame losers.

The consequence is that most Igbos are afraid of losing. To loose is to loose social face and to be rejected.

Many Igbos, therefore, tend to envy those who seem like they are winners. In fact, many Igbos cannot stand winners.

Igbos tend to be jealous of winners and if they could would do everything in their power to bring winners down.

The least they do is make negative comments about those who seem to be productive, such as say: oh, he is merely writing about his field; he is not doing much; any one can write about his field; why should we see him as making significant contribution?

(Okay, why don’t you write about your field and share knowledge instead of hoarding it? Let us see what you are made of, what you got?)

The Igbo seeks ways to be like winners, and if he cannot, he tries to pull them down or desecrates them or rationalizes their efforts as not a big deal.

This jealously trait in Igbos tends to be obvious to non-Igbos. I think that it is time Igbos are conscious of this negative trait in them and work to overcome it.

(I am aware that what I see in Igbos also exist in other ethnic groups, indeed, in all human beings, in varying degrees. But I am currently focusing on Igbos, not on these other people.)

There is no use denying the obvious. One must accept ones good and bad. Igbos, obviously, have lots of good…they are probably one of the hardest working folks in the world…but, like all human beings, Igbos have their character weaknesses. Jealousy is one of their foibles and they must accept it and work to overcome it.

Thank you for developing insight into your true motivation, for accentuating your strength and working to improve your weakness without denying it.

· I made these observations in the spirit of helping our people, Igbos. I am also aware that those who want me to sing only praises to Igbos will see what I said as derogatory of Igbos. These people are entitled to project their self hatred to me. I am an Igbo and I love Igbos. One strives to improve those one loves. One way to improve ones loved ones are to tell them to improve on their weaknesses. Any one who loves other people does not ignore their negative aspects.

· Finally, a healthy person rejoices with all human beings, with winners and losers and does his best to help every person to succeed in whatever his calling is, rather than try to pull him down. If you rejoice with other people’s success you tend to be peaceful and happy, whereas if you envy other people and work towards their failing, you tend to be unhappy.

· What do you want: happiness or unhappiness? You know what you have to do for happiness.

Ozodi Thomas Osuji

Posted by Administrator at April 15, 2006 08:46 AM


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