I thought wearing dreadlocks, tattoos, and the kind of trousers that caught one’s fancy was a matter of personal choice, an individual’s decision influenced by their tastes, likes, and interests. In a country that boasts of freedom of expression, I didn’t think that one’s decision to wear- or not to wear – certain hairstyles, tattoos, or particular dresses was such a big deal until I read an article with the headline, “FG laments increase in homosexuality, wearing of dreadlocks”.
Perhaps the word “lament”, suggesting great grief and sorrow, in the headline was what drew my attention to the article, and as I read it, I wondered why, of all the serious issues plaguing the country right now, it had to be such mundane matters as personal choices in dressing, dating, and marriage that the federal government has chosen to lament.
“It is pertinent to note that the advent of satellite broadcasting has continued to pose a serious challenge to our traditional culture and religious values and our identity as a people. Our youths are now being deceived by the international media with values that are at variance with our culture and the teachings of our religion,” the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, Dr. Garba Abari, said at the event, tagged ‘Anti-Corruption: The Role of Media as Change Agents’, which held in Abuja last week.
He continued, “The wearing of tattoos, dreadlocks hairstyle, sagging trousers and the painting of hair have become a vogue among our young men and women. Our youths are now publicly clamoring for the legalisation of gay marriage and are about to boldly take the campaign to the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly to press for it as a fundamental human right.”
The above notion that imbibing western culture and the wearing of tattoos, dreadlocks, a certain type of trousers, and “painting” – which probably means dying – one’s hair and embracing same sex marriage should be blamed for the dissolution of social values among Nigerian youths is as incorrect as it is biased. The dissolution of social issues should be blamed on the obvious – corruption, unfairness, lack of transparency and integrity, nonchalance to the plight of its people on the part of the government and not on the citizens’ agitation for human rights and freedom of choice.
In the midst of much weightier matters of national importance like the country’s security, poverty, economic depression, deplorable state of roads, poor electricity supply, inadequate basic infrastructures, poor state of health and education, such issues as what to wear or marry should be the least of the government’s worries. They are personal decisions that individuals can either choose to live with or not, and treating them as if they were matters of great national importance while neglecting the more pertinent issues, would do nothing to meet the needs of the good people of this country.
It is indeed strange that the government that has been unable to cater to the needs of and improve the conditions of its citizens has focused more on lamenting the issue of personal choices than on the more important things.