The eminent African novelist and critic, here addresses Nigeria’s problems, aiming to challenge the resignation of Nigerians and inspire them to reject old habits which inhibit Nigeria from becoming a modern and attractive country. In this famous book now reprinted, he professes that the only trouble with Nigeria is the failure of leadership, because with good leaders Nigeria could resolve its inherent problems such as tribalism; lack of patriotism; social injustice and the cult of mediocrity; indiscipline; and corruption.
“The trouble with Nigeria is simply a failure of leadership…The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.” pg. 1
The title, The Trouble with Nigeria should actually be called ‘The Trouble with Africa’. In this short book, Achebe questions the motives of the leaders and citizens of Nigeria. Achebe systematically breaks this book into ten chapters, where he discusses the various problems Nigeria was facing in 1983. Some of these chapters are entitled: Tribalism, Indiscipline, Corruption, False Image of Ourselves, Social Injustice and the Cult of Mediocrity, amongst others.
This book is simply brilliant. It is short and straight to the point! Everyone should read this, especially African politicians and people in positions of power. But do African politicians read? A myriad of books in the African Literature genre mirror the happenings of society. Authors use their amazing talent and writing abilities to articulate the faults of our leaders and societies through their stories/fictitious characters. Do the leaders of our societies read these books to hear how the layman feels about the conditions of their nations? Do they care? Even though this book was written in 1983, most of the issues Achebe discusses hold true to Ghana, and other African countries as well- even in present day 2015. Corruption, indiscipline, tribalism, lack of patriotism, illiteracy and greed are killing administrations in several African nations. We honestly need to do better as a people and this book explains why with boldness, style and sharp wit. I loved this! Thank you Chinua Achebe.
My favorite quotes from The Trouble with Nigeria:
“Nigerians are what they are only because their leaders are not what they should be.” pg. 10
“A true patriot will always demand the highest standards of his country and accept nothing but the best for and from his people. He will be outspoken in condemnation of their short-coming without giving way to superiority, despair or cynicism. That is my idea of a patriot.” pg. 16
“Look at our collapsing public utilities, our inefficient and wasteful parastatals and state-owned companies… If you want electricity, you buy your own generator; if you want water, you sink your own bore-hole; if you want to travel, you set up your own airline. One day soon, said a friend of mine, you will have to build your own post office to send your letters!” pg. 20 (Yes, this holds true to Ghana as well, especially issues of electricity *sigh*).
“I must now touch, however briefly, on the grace undermining of national discipline which the siren mentality of Nigerian leaders fosters. In all civilized countries the siren is used in grave emergencies by fire engines, ambulances and the police in actual pursuit of crime. Nigeria, with its remarkable genius of travesty, has found a way to turn yet another useful invention by serious-minded people elsewhere into a childish and cacophonous instrument for the celebration of status.” pg. 34 (Sadly, this is a daily occurrence in Ghana as well. Especially during rush hour).
“My frank and honest opinion is that anybody who can say that corruption in Nigeria has not yet become alarming is either a fool, a crook or else does not live in this country.” pg. 37 (This guy was bold, sheesh!)
“Knowledgeable observers have estimated that as much as 60 percent of the wealth of its nation is regularly consumed by corruption. I have no doubt that defenders of our system would retort: Mere rumor! Where is the proof? No one can offer ‘satisfactory’ proof for the simple reason that nobody issues a receipt for a bribe or for money stolen from the public till.” pg. 41