The culture of “Put it There”

As a student of culture, if you are very much interested in the Nigerian culture, one of the things you cannot ignore even though you have to pay a very keen interest before you understand it, is the attitude of “put it there.”

I remember Dr. Ayoola Arowolo while he was still a PhD student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He told me a story. He had just returned from a visit to Lagos where he monitored a TV Show. He saw one of those charlatans calling himself a man of God introduced on the TV by the title, Dr. (Evangelist) XYZ. In the course of the show, the interviewer quizzed him, where did you obtain your PhD or which school conferred honorary doctorate degree on you? The man responded that he neither had a PhD nor was it conferred on him. According to him, he just “put it there!”

Therein lies the context of “put it there.” We use titles because we just “put it there.” Dr. Arowolo told me that he was so pissed that he almost quit the PhD program, if you could just “put it there.”

But that is the truth! We use titles we just “put there.” We coronate ourselves, make ourselves chiefs. We give ourselves titles. You can just give yourself Bishop because you need to put something there. This again points to a bigger picture of an attitude that some can just put a title there for the sake of having it there. Possibly to add to their self-image. And we love putting things there actually.

Have you noticed that in Nigeria, a wristwatch is more of an accessory than what tells time? People will get to events late and yet, they have watches, why? They just put it there. People will see road signs that tells the speed limits but will speed on, why? We just put the signs there. People will see signs that cautions them, “Do not use handset here.” And they will still use it, why? We just put it there.

We believe we can just put things there. The reason for this article is the expose on the O/level result of Mr. President or the absence of it. After the PEPT ruling, a guy who has used Dr. on twitter came out to say he has no PhD. And that his is a native doctor, why? He just “put it there.”

I was at a conference some months ago where I met a young man by name Dr. ABC. As a PhD student, I was impressed that he got his PhD early so I asked him, “Where did you obtain your PhD?” I wasn’t prepared for the shock I got. “Emm, I just put it there”, sir?

We have to ask ourselves questions. Do we just put things there because they are nice? We have wrist-watches but we don’t keep to time. We have results we can’t defend. Why do you do what you do? Are you just doing it? Why do you have what you have? Do you just have it?

I find myself struggling and fighting people around me to keep to time. Surprisingly, they cast a look at you that suggests, we can’t keep to time. We just fixed the time as a suggestion, not to obey it.

I hate putting things there. I want to put there what matters. I want to put there what I can defend. I want to put there what I will use. I want to put what will guide me. I want to put out there something genuine. What do you think?

I am not just putting it here, I want you to change.