All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing. – Edmund Burke Oppressors exist everywhere and at all times.
They can be recognized quite easily even though many of them would rarely admit that they are oppressors. The nagging and domineering housewife would not agree that she is an oppressor, neither would the wife-bashing husband. The professor who shouts down at his colleague at a Senate meeting, saying: “Don’t talk when I’m talking; how many publications do you have that you should talk when I talk?”, is an oppressor. We don’t have to talk about the numerous enslavers and tormentors of humanity who use guns, money, women and the Name of God, to commit unspeakable atrocities.
Slavery, colonialism and despotism are not the exclusive activities of any definite race, class or group of people, but general human proclivities which can be indulged in when situations permit. Although individuals are born into the earth under certain radiations, yet certain conditions enhance oppressive behavioural pattern. Such conditions include docility, indolence, gullibility, cowardice and submissiveness. A police constable known as “Raw-material from Izonland” lifted a DSP who slapped him and threw him down in a public place, in Obalende, 1996. Two of them later met in Enugu as friends, not enemies and in a short time established a security company together.
The driving force in oppressive tendencies is self-preservation, especially among people who are jittering over certain things. The forces of libido and mortido are active in everybody for self-preservation purposes, but in spite of being natural, they can be misapplied and abused. It is natural for people to live together but it is also obvious that communal living is characterized by competitiveness. It is natural for humans to respond to the challenges and threats of life in an aggressive manner and in some situations aggressiveness can be a means of keeping some people in check, especially in a hostile environment. Intake of hard drugs and the kind of food taken to nourish the body play significant roles in aggressive and oppressive tendencies. Self-control is a significant component of maturity.
Factors which fuel the increase and application of aggressive and oppressive tendencies include various forms of human weaknesses. Oppression, being an opportunistic tendency, preys upon weakness. Needless to say that self-preservation demands a high level of vigilance and alertness, physically and mentally. The worst forms of oppression have been in the domains of religious, political and military institutions. Can we forget acts of bestiality, brutality and callousness carried out under the invocation of God’s Name? Apart from institutional oppressions and aggressions, there are also smaller categories of oppressors operating as cartels, cabals, ethnic power-blocks and war-lords, mafia, criminal and cult groups who hold humanity hostage.
A clever form of oppression is the kind that is designed and hidden under the cover of government policies and regulatory measures. Without citing examples of these, there definitely are decisions, acts, obstructions and regulations made for purposes of undermining the well-being, dignity and freedom of some target groups of people. Reasons for such agenda can be many but the victims rarely recognize immediately such hostile plots or the long-term intentions. It is even common that members of the target group can be recruited to collaborate with their clever oppressors. Money has always been the ready instrument and facilitator of clever oppressive designs, coupled with greed, gullibility and myopia of masses. Priggish upstarts, cultists and petty criminals can always be recruited, used and dumped at will.
What does it take to contain and tame oppressors? Vigilance as a price we must pay for liberty, demands working by wit and not by witchcraft. The doctrine of turning the other cheek emboldens oppressors, neither does a wise manager run an open-door policy. There are numerous snares and tricks designed and put in place long ago, and unsuspecting accomplices can always be used in games of wit. Do we need to be reminded that humans are predators? Are there not numerous smiling monsters and clever prevaricators and equivocators around us than armed terrorists? Oppressive conditions hinder development and progress but swell expenditure on security. We make too much noise but observe too little! Hostile environment demands caution!
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
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Author: The Tide