I was delivering a lecture in Communication Skills to ICAN students when we delved into things to consider when sending messages. When we got to considering the recipients emotions, the class became alive. Almost all the students had experienced some form of emotional outburst from people when they were relaying messages to them. Some had good experiences while others had very terrible ones. The conclusion by the end of the day was that you have to be careful when delivering messages to any Nigerian because he or she might be angry at that moment.
The experiences of these students are just the few among the ones experienced by many Nigerians. The emotional atmosphere of Nigeria is charged negatively. People seem ready to throw insults around without any known cause. Take a while to observe our roads and you will witness how vehicle drivers seamlessly abuse one another for minor traffic offences. What about the sellers in the market? A little pricing of his wares will earn you the insults of your life. This attitude even followed us into the social media. If you ask me, I will say that it is possible that Nigerians have taken their angry nature into their dream worlds.
So my question is, why are Nigerians so angry? What is it about Nigeria that easily gets people angry? How can this anger be brought under control?
Anger is just an emotion. It is something that pops up as a result of another factor. I don’t believe anybody is born angry. This means that if we can easily feel angry, we should easily feel other emotions too (both the positive and the negative ones). But the fact that anger and other negative emotions (fear, sadness, hatred, jealousy, and the rest of them) abound more in Nigeria shows that there is an underlying cause within the country itself.
The consequences of anger can never be over-stressed. To start with, it is not good for our health. Anger can lead to other complicated mental, psychological and physical illnesses. It weighs downs and exhausts its victim. It keeps its victim stagnant (in every ramification) and could end up destroying him.
Anger can easily be harnessed by ‘evil doers’ to destroy the lives and properties of others. It could be manipulated by these people to disrupt national unity and development. It can prevent the economic and financial growths of the victim because his aggressive nature and mindset will send the right people away from him. Besides, decisions made while angry always turn out wrong.
If you ask me who is angry in Nigeria, I’ll tell you that everybody is angry – the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the educated and the non-educated, the male and the female; even our pets are angry. Anger is spreading everywhere like cancer eating deep into our system. Honestly, to survive in Nigeria, you have to learn how to be angry, react angrily or ignore angry people.
Ok, let’s quickly look at the identified causes of anger in Nigerian societies.
1. Poverty: Of course a hungry man is an angry man. But then, the word ‘poverty’ is relative because I have seen ‘poor’ people that are not angry. It means that only when someone sees himself as poor will he be angry.
2. Insecurity: People have pointed accusing fingers at insecurity as a cause of anger in Nigeria. This may be true, but I guess it is in relation to people who have been directly affected.
3. Unemployment: Yes I can relate here. Being unemployed can be quite frustrating. If care isn’t taken, someone in this situation can just get angry at everybody and everything around him. I guess this person’s anger may be seen as justified but it truly won’t help him. He needs to help himself out here.
4. Lack of Basic Amenities: People get angry when ‘NEPA’ shows their strength. People get angry when their cars breakdown because of bad roads (or even when they are driving on the roads). People get angry when they couldn’t access some basic amenities they believe they have the right to as taxpayers. The worst thing about the anger that comes from here is that nobody will listen to you.
5. Marginalisation: As far as every Nigerian is concerned, his tribe is being marginalised. I haven’t seen any one that is satisfied with what is being sent to them by the government. The anger from this source can be quite destructive.
6. Bad Governance: No need to go into this one because this is the grandfather from which other causes of anger emanates.
7. Injustice: Yes, anybody who has faced injustice from any quarter whatsoever is always angry until justice has been meted out. The injustice I meant here isn’t the one from our Judiciary; but rather the one that an individual experienced as a member of a society.
8. Stress: Sometimes the way we show our stress is through anger. Maybe that woman selling oranges under the rain in the market that sprayed insults on you when you priced her #100 oranges at #50 did so because she was stressed out. This is why we need to bear with people at times because we don’t really know what they are passing through at that moment.
These factors mentioned above are the ones people easily point out when asked why they are angry. Unfortunately, some people don’t know why they are angry. Some people’s anger is so deep that they don’t know the words with which they could express it. The causes of this type are what I have my major interest in. I will try to mention some that I believe have been deeply destroying us as individuals and our nation as a whole.
- Past Negative Experiences: You know there are some personal experiences you may have that takes time to instil anger in you. These experiences could be something that happened over a period of time and had therefore developed a taproot deep into the victim’s system. The only way to reach into this person and help him is through the professional works of experts. This is why we need our psychologists to face their primary works and help our people manage their emotional, mental and psychological health.
- Upbringing: Most Nigerian parents believe that children have to be brought up the hard way. We also see parents that take out their frustration on their children. Because of this, they don’t tolerate any slightest mistake from their children. In the long run, they transfer their anger to their children, who grow with it and transfer it to anybody that comes their way.
- The Influence of Others: Situations like this can be seen in mob-action, terrorism, tribalism and religious fanaticism. When people are being fed information that will fan their anger, they will be forced to bring up that emotion and act on it.
- Less Attention to Emotional Health: Nigerians pay more attention to their physical health than to any other type. Our emotional, mental and psychological health are always swept under the carpet. This is why most of us don’t consider the effects of what we do on other people’s emotions.
- Sense of Failure: This usually comes when someone puts in efforts but the results aren’t reflecting the rate of the efforts invested. This can also come up when a person compares himself to others, whom he deemed successful. If this person doesn’t know how to be inspired by the progress of others, he may end up angry with himself and others.
We have seen some of the causes of anger in Nigeria. What we need now is the way forward. We don’t have to wait for the government to help out here. Let us do the much we can for ourselves and then come together to influence the government. In other words, we need to know exactly what we want before expecting a change of governance.
Anyway, I’ll suggest that we, as individuals, can imbibe the following attitudes to help us with anger, and other negative emotions, management.
1. Change of Mindset: When we try to imbibe a positive attitude to life, we will start attracting positive things towards us. You can find an article on developing positive mindset here https://www.tekedia.com/how-our-mindset-can-determine-our-financial-and-social-status/
2. Avoidance Method: Here I’ll say that we should avoid situations and people that always elicit anger in us. Cut off every discussion or association with people that can influence you negatively, they will only destroy your happiness.
3. Recreation: Find time to relax and do what makes you happy. Don’t say you can’t afford to do so. By the way, don’t go for things that only have short-lived happiness (things that you enjoy at the moment but take a life time to regret) and don’t spend so much money on your search for happiness.
4. Child Upbringing: Child-rearing is an uphill task. But remember to preserve their innocence until they are old enough to understand the challenges of life. Don’t tell them how hard things are for you (of course you know they won’t understand), rather tell them you can’t provide for something they asked for at that moment (be patient as you entertain their questions on when you will do that, they will eventually get tired of asking).
5. Seek Help: If you have a bitter experience that is eating deep into you, seek for help. Please, go to a professional that is trained for that. Be careful with roadside helpers that will only complicate matters for you.
6. Self-Control: This is not easy at all. But we have to learn to control our emotions when situations try to burst them out. The easiest way to hold your anger when someone is pushing it out of you is to walk out of the place. If it is a place you can’t just walk out of, start counting numbers from one to wherever you want. This technique is to distract you from what is being said (you actually don’t listen when your mind is busy with some tasks). If the thing that will make you angry is a reported speech, don’t reply immediately. Sit down and try to analyse the situation, maybe you will understand that person’s point of view. And finally, when someone tries to push you to the wall, just respond with a smile and change the topic of discussion.
Anger in Nigeria is something that has to be solved individually. Though some of our institutions have failed us, we don’t have to fail ourselves. Being angry won’t take us anywhere; rather it will stagnate and destroy us.