Worst place to be born in?
Category: Monday column
Many young Nigerians were in panic last week after reading about a British research “finding” that Nigeria is the worst country in the world for a child to be born in this year.
Several youngsters sought my advice as to what they should do. If our uncle, Enebeli Elebuwa alias Andrew, had not died recently, he might have renewed his plan to “check out”.
My own advice is, don’t mind the Whiteman. He made up this tall tale about Nigeria being the worst country to be born in based on a concoction of artfully selected Euro-centric criteria designed to give other peoples a bad name. It is at least as controversial as the Failed States Index, a strong tool of mind imperialism evolved by the Whiteman to put rising small nations in their place at the bottom of the neo-colonial heap.
The Whiteman has been making up tall tales for some time. Back in 1963 Malcolm X said in the course of a speech, “Remember the phrase to be free, White and 21? The Whiteman made that up!”
What is this “study” that found Nigeria to be at the bottom of the international heap of dangerous places to be born in? It was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit [EIU], an arm of the right-wing The Economist magazine. It scored 80 countries across 11 variables to determine “which country will provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in the years ahead.” It said the study “incorporated hard data on such facets of life as economic opportunity, health standards and political freedoms; subjective quality of life surveys and economic forecasts for 2030...including gender equality, job security, violent crime rates and climate.”
Who said these are the only criteria in the world that can determine the best or worst places to be born at? Imagine that instead of the EIU, it is a Masai Council of Elders that sat around a night fire to work out the criteria. Issues such as “lack of cattle herds, lack of grazing fields, drying up of streams, lack of milk to drink and lack of lions to train the moran” would top the list.
Not surprisingly, the EIU study said the best countries to be born in are “small, peaceful, homogenous, liberal democracies where individual well-being is paramount.” Switzerland and Austria came out on top, with Norway, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan close to the top. China, which has more billionaires than any country after the USA, was ranked 49th out of 80 allegedly because it has 128 million poverty stricken people.
This is all a matter of opinion, frankly. Switzerland may be the best place to be born in if your main goal in life is to ski up and down the Alpine slopes. As a way of life, how does that sound to a Buddhist monk in Tibet who would rather pray all day at a pagoda? Being born in Norway, you could be shot by Anders Behring Breivik just for sitting around on an island.
Even the super-rich state of Hong Kong may not be the best place to be born today, frankly. Since EIU’s projection is about life in 2030, who will know for sure that the Chinese Communist Party would not reverse its “one country, two systems” policy by then? Quite possible that in 2030, a small Communist Party apparatchik could be sitting in old man Lee Ka-Shing’s chair at the great shipping empire Hutchison Whampoa.
You see, standard of living, welfare, recreation, holiday and Hedonistic pleasure are only some of the valuable things in life, much more important to the Whiteman than to others. An African man for example will place much more store to saving the lives of his little children. To that extent, it is not a good idea to be born at Newtown, Connecticut, to take your kids to a nursery school only to be told an hour later that a boy sprayed them with bullets from an assault rifle.
Even the Whiteman’s idea of Barack Obama being “the most powerful man in the world” puzzles an African. Why then is he powerless to so much as stop demented youngsters from laying their hands on assault weapons just because the National Rifle Association [NRA] would threaten any Congressman who supports such a measure? Our Police Inspector General here may not look so powerful to EIU, but he can stop you from owning a dane gun with a single stroke of his blue beret cap.
Anytime I take a look at a 1986 special issue of Newsweek magazine, I am sure that I don’t want to be born on Chicago’s 39th Street and have to live the life of Big Honk Johnson. He said he never saw a Whiteman with his own eyes until the age of 18 because he lived in a tall housing project where he did not come down for a month and dared not venture to another street for fear of rival street gangs.
Or, for that matter, to be born in Mexico and become a “wetback” swimming across the Rio Grande river, there to brave US marshals, sniffer dogs, barbed wires and electronic cameras, to hide at the bottom of goods trucks only to arrive in California and spend whole days on a farm, picking grapes in the baking sun, all for a pittance.
What’s there even to being born in Britain? The chances of your being born into the Royal Family so you could live in Kensington Palace are very low. You have much higher chances of coming down to a life in Brixton’s ghettoes and of becoming a soccer hooligan, to engage in beige drinking and move from one match venue to another brawling with supporters of rival football clubs.
I am not sure that I want to be born in Munich and to have to look over my shoulder for roving bands of neo-Nazi skinheads. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a Yamaguchi-gumi hit man in Yokohama. I am still thinking about the prospects of being born in Tokyo. In Africa here, an unemployed man can at least walk into his auntie’s house, receive a warm welcome and eat a free meal, but an unemployed man in Japan must pretend to be working, get up in the morning and dress up for work, pick his laptop computer and head for the city park, there to while away the hours and return home after dusk, pretending to be tired after a hard day’s work. No wonder suicide rate is so high in Nippon.
Even Canada, is it such a good idea to be born in Saskatchewan if you end up in an Indian Reservation, hard drinking and gambling away the time, staring at lands once dominated by roaming herds of bison which the Whiteman did away with, erased a great civilisation and supplanted it with his stadia for the Toronto Blue Jays?
When EIU chose 80 countries to do its survey, why did it leave out the West Bank of the River Jordan and the Gaza Strip, places that the Whiteman has turned into hell on Earth? I sure don’t want a concrete wall separating my house from my orchard or a Merkava tank driving through my family’s olive field, nurtured by several generations. Who wants to be born in Gaza, the world’s largest open air prison, where a slingshot fired by a frustrated schoolboy into Israel could invite an F-15 Eagle raining missiles at a residential compound?
If Nigeria was listed Number 80 because of Boko Haram, I still prefer that to being born in Peshawar and to have to be looking over my shoulders for a drone strike ordered by Mr Obama as he sips tea in the Oval Office. If Sasha or Malia were walking on those streets, would Mr Obama so calmly ask a CIA officer remotely operating a drone from Baghram to release a Hellfire missile into a dark street?