On Playing the Blame Game


When my siblings and I were growing up, one of our favourite expressions for trolling one another was “passing the buck” (said with a deliberately fake British accent). It was one of the phrases we picked up from Dad who used it liberally (without any accent) whenever any member of the fabulous five committed an offence and tried to blame it on another member. When Dad dropped that phrase, the person under the spotlight could rest easy that the offence that the offence committed did not warrant a caning (or electric wiring in our own case).
If you have ever watched the movie Maleficent, starring the Angelina Jolie that Jennifer Aniston sees, you would agree that what the film essentially did, was try to point out that Maleficent only turned evil because a man broke her heart. If you are a fan of Yoruba Nollywood movies, when the protagonist turns to crime or prostitution, it is that he/she has a spiritual problem or it is society/ fate/ the system that is to blame for having dealt said protagonist a bad hand. In essence every protagonist has something or someone to blame their actions on.
So what am I getting at today? The other day I was following the story of Linda Ikeji’s Banana Island mansion, and the resultant argument that emerged about her obvious lack of a husband to share her wealth with on twitter. I noticed one of my followers going on about how successful women like Linda ikeji either end up unmarried or divorced because Nigerian men are egoistical pricks with fragile psyches and tiny dicks who cannot bear to see themselves upstaged by a hardworking woman. I took the opportunity to point out to the aforementioned follower that apart from the obvious generalization in that statement, she is also trying to play the blame game or she  was as my elder brother would have said to her (with the fake British accent no less) “passing the buck”
As a society, we all seem to live under the impression that everything we do has an external cause. There is nothing inherently wrong with this belief, but we tend to take it overboard, by believing that nobody can take an independent decision which does not have an immediate cause in the environment. In other words if Linda ikeji is unmarried, it is not that perhaps she has an image of the kind of man she is looking for, whom she has not found yet, it is the Nigerian society’s fault for making Nigerian men unmarriageable, chauvinist dickbags. We keep looking for someone like Akon, who will carry all the blame, and if we can’t find someone we blame “Society” and it sticks because “society” cannot defend itself.
I like to compare this decision to or to not marry to my decision to not buy herbal concoctions (Jedi, Opa eyin and the like). Admittedly, some decisions are greater than others but admitted a decision is still a decision. If someone asks me why I don’t by the concoctions and I say “I don’t see what useful purpose they serve in my body, and I don’t like their bad smell and bitter taste” that is a personal decision which I have owned.  If I say “I would like them, if they were not useless products made by illiterate and fraudulent women to sell to gullible people” I am just embarking on a needless rant to blame my external environment for what is essentially a personal decision.
I think as individuals we need to move beyond the “it is the Society’s fault” approach, when something undesirable happens. It is not compulsory that someone be blamed for something we don’t like. When the AIDS pandemic started, people blamed it on homosexuals and butt sex, but did it help stop the pandemic in anyway? When 9/11 happened, the US blamed Osama Bin Laden / Taliban for terrorism in the Middle East/ world. Osama Bin Laden is dead, and god knows how many Taliban commanders have been killed, but has terrorism stopped? Perhaps the lesson here is that when something happens we should look at the underlying causes before rushing to market to find someone or something to fault.
Let me reiterate that I am not here to argue that that our experiences don’t affect our decisions, but if you can’t own any decision you make and you must blame/credit the system for it, then you are just a spineless worm.  If Linda Ikeji or Genevieve Nnaji or Monalisa Chinda have decided not to marry, let us leave them to their personal decisions and not try to blame them or “The Nigerian men who have refused to marry them” (does that even make any sense?) .  if there is one thing I like about Christianity, it is that on judgment day You are going to be on your own and there will be no Akon, or the Devil or the system/ society   to blame your sins on. The thing is that people who blame society for their bad decisions never realize that the system screwing them up is far from being a unique issue. They do not realize that there are millions of other people who faced the issues they faced but did not make the decisions they made, and that not everybody that the society screws up turns bad.  When life throws lemons at you, the decision to make lemonade is entirely yours; you have to own it and not try to transfer it to someone else.

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