By Olusanya Anjorin
It was the greatest of time, it was the steepest of time, it was the time when there were many laws, customs, rules and regulations constituting the ethics and moral code of African communities, and any breach of these laws is tagged evil with its associated consequences. At eventide, children settled into a cow-dung floor to listen to tale of yesteryears with rapt attention. It was time when eating rice was reserved for special occasions and chicken’s heads were pivoted and their feathers puffed for the nouveau-riche.
Today, we have all sorts of delicacies available at the snap of a hand. Millions of people are in search of Microwave foods, no one wants to soil his hand anymore. Thankfully, we have the likes of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), The Domino Pizza, MacDonald, Tim Horton, Sweet Sensation and such likes. My cousin confessed to me that decades ago our uncle caught a boy toasting her behind our house. ‘’ I was listening to him with rapt attention when a baritone voice barked behind my back. Yetunde, what are you doing there? The whole of my frame quivered and turned pale. I felt as if the floor were tilting beneath my feet. ‘’ Yetunde narrated nostalgically. Today, the 21st century girls will not only saunter like a gale but the toasting can happen right within her father’s abode.
But a question remained” what changed? Civilization. We have embraced civilization and allow it to tame our culture, ethics and moral value. It has caged and still hovered like an angry vulture. Our value system the pivot on which thriving nations is built is crumbling. Our educational, health, financial and social structures are critically ill. If we go back to the 1950’s, the golden age of politeness when some of us are still singing halleluiah in Pluto, the common denominator is strict adherence to moral ethics. Today, the common courtesies are practically becoming extinct.
There is persistent loss of moral compass across the society; this is evidently in the people’s participation in various economic activities. The desire to make money is pursued at the expense of morality. In the media houses, you see ethical caveat display for the public: We xyz Newspaper do not demand or accept gifts or gratification to publish articles or photographs. We implore the general public not to offer any to our Journalist. Why? Because the management of the newspaper knows there are bad elements among them who will accept gratification from individual before rendering service. In the education sector, corruption is a serious affliction that undermines the quality of students produced. Teachers collect money from students to upgrade his or her scores. Parents register their children to miracle centers where greater numbers of candidates make great results by hook or by crook. When he or she gains admission into the University, paying in cash or kind continues in an endless loop. The recent sex for grades comes to mind, BBC Africa Eye sent undercover journalist posing as students inside the University of Lagos and the University of Ghana. The evidences gathered shows female students are sexually harassed periodically.
Artisans like mechanic technician swap good tire with bad ones within a twinkle of an eye and device other ways to milk the golden goose from fuel Injectors to alternators to other motor parts of the vehicles. The fruit seller in the market deployed all means to increase his or her profit margin. Some deployed calcium carbide to ripe fruit quickly while others use an insecticide called sniper to preserve their commodities not minding the effect to human consumption. In the middle of the sea of immorality in the 21st century, church is not left out; a church usher has been caught on video camera palming offering money in the counting room and putting it in his coat pocket.
Similarly, the Pastor who created a bogus miracle to deceive the audience in order to gain more congregations is not helping himself. You are welcome to the loop of bribe, where nothing gets done until the right palm is greased with the right amount. Corrupt policemen palmed bribe like a kid grip a candy. Sometimes they pick a proxy who collects the bribe on their behalf.
For political corruption, it is a commonplace where government officials use their office for illegal private gain. It varies and it starts from bribery, extortion and diversion. Heaps of cash had moved beyond and had refused to reside in Africa for her development. Corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of our society and the fabric is turning to shred. Let look at a practical example of what happened in the city not too long ago, I felt crushed when I saw an elderly man in crutches scrambling for space to sit in a public bus to make room for his stiff leg. Unfortunately, he was supposed to get sympathy from the guy who sat in the front seat which has the legroom he needed to feel comfortable but he didn’t. I marveled, shocked, a tug of guilt pricked my heart. In reminiscence of the past, and I asked rhetorically, what happened to the ethics of respect your elders? What happened to the ethics of respect your parent? What happened to those signs urging people to give up their seat to the disabled? Where is the empathy of the times of yore? Where is the integrity of the past? I shook my head; all these are fading and are leaving a gaping hole in our society.
How can we bequeath a more united and prosperous country to our future generations? But where do we get it all wrongs? Some blame it on parents who have no time to inculcate these essential values rather in pursuit of money. Others typically lay the blame at the door of civilization.
But Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary by A.S. Hornby define Civilization as a state of human society that is very developed and organized. The Oxford dictionary did not define Civilization as moral decay, promiscuity, drug addition, the rape of the environment, the profligacy with resources and our failure to right the inequalities of wealth. It is still largely a mystery how some people in the society are blind to unethical behaviors and may even unknowingly encourage it. The fading moral and ethical fabric of society has continually dwindled in pursuit of wealth. It is like a rope crossed and tangled in all directions. I hope in no distant future we can begin to see some of these fading ethics come back to life- and don’t have to see it loomed to extinction.