This essay defines what good self-esteem is; it says that in general many Africans do not have good self-esteem and may not even know what constitutes good self-esteem. It says that such Africans take the noisy behavior of those with low self-esteem trying to seem tough as good self-esteem. It says that good health, possession of work competencies, and enough money to live on and, more importantly, love and respect for one’s self and for other people are the makers of positive self-esteem in people.
Self Esteem And Africans
What exactly constitutes good self-esteem and how do we know if a person has good self-esteem?
To esteem means to value (something). Therefore, to have good self-esteem is to value one’s self. On the other hand, to have bad self-esteem is to not value one’s self. Positive self-esteem means that one values one’s self and negative self-esteem means that one does not value one’s self.
Each of us places value or lack of value, worth or lack of worth on his life and the lives of other people. Each of us has an opinion regarding his worth and value and act as such.
We all can see from folk’s pattern of talking and behaving whether they have good self-esteem or bad self-esteem.
There are known factors that contribute to the development of good or bad self-esteem. Those factors include the individual’s state of physical health. Generally, those born into healthy bodies tend to accept their bodies and those born into sickly bodies tend to reject their bodies hence develop low self-esteem.
How one is treated by ones significant others (parents, siblings, peers, teachers etc.) affect one’s self esteem. If one was loved and respected and one’s material needs were reasonably satisfied by ones parents one tends to have good self-esteem.
How one did at childhood learning tasks, especially formal schooling affects one's self-esteem. If one is sufficiently intelligent to go through school successfully and obtain job competence so that one is able to obtain reasonable jobs that support one’s life style one tends to have good self-esteem. Those without job competences are unemployed and poor seldom have good self-esteem.
The individual’s self-confidence is enhanced to the extent that he is able to do those things that enable him to successfully cope with the exigencies of his world, especially if he has good interpersonal skills so that he is able to relate to people, make friends and get other people to do what he needs for them to do for him.
It is difficult to define what good self-esteem is but most people know a person with good self-esteem when they see one. Folks know when a person around them has good opinion of himself and when he does not. The individual’s opinion of himself is reflected in what he says and does (even in his choice of clothes, cars, houses etc.).
In this essay I will consider Africans and their self-esteem. Clearly, some Africans have positive self-esteem. However, many Africans do not have good self-esteem. How did I come to this conclusion? As I noted, each of us can tell if a person has good opinion of himself by his words and actions. Judging from the words and actions of the many Africans I interact with I say that many of them have low self-regard.
CAN A PERSON WHO DEGRADES OTHER PERSONS HAVE POSITIVE SELF ESTEEM?
I belong to African Internet groups. At these groups, Africans, mostly Nigerians come to reflect on what is going on in their countries. Generally, what happens is that folks would identify with their ethnic (tribal) groups. They would defend their groups and put down other groups. When they notice that someone said something negative about their group they would go to work and call him every negative name they could muster.
Nigerians have a penchant for cursing each other out. Upon the slightest provocation, a string of curse words would come flying out of their filthy mouths (mouths that need to be washed with soap). And these curses are spit out by folks who often append the term Doctor or Professor to their names.
Is cursing behavior a sign of positive self-esteem or negative self-esteem? Would a person with positive self-esteem curse out other people? What do you think?
Let us see what cursing other people mean. When you curse folk your goal is to degrade them, humiliate them and belittle them. In your mind by putting folk down you fancy that you are better than they. Can a person who puts other persons down to make him seem superior to them have positive self-esteem?
A neurotic is a person who feels inferior, denies it and tries to seem falsely superior; he makes other people seem inferior to him and tries to seem superior to them.
A healthy person is not motivated to seem inferior or superior to other people; he merely assumes his equality with all people and leaves it at that.
Can a person who desecrates other persons actually have good self-esteem? I do not think so. In my judgment the Africans who try to degrade their fellow Africans have low self-regard. What is going on is that such Africans do not like themselves, deny their self-hatred and project it to their fellow Africans. The negative names they call their fellow Africans, their curses, are really what they think about themselves, deny them and attribute them to other Africans. What folks see in other persons is often what they see in them or think is in them and disown.
CAN A FEAFUL PERSON HAVE POSITIVE SELF-ESTEEM?
All human beings are fearful. To be human is to be fearful. Fear alerts us to danger threatening our lives and urges us to take actions to protect our lives. Fear is a means for human survival. If a person were not fearful he would not be alerted to what could destroy his life and get destroyed. Fear keeps us alive in body and ego separated selves.
That been said the fact is that there is such a thing as too much fearfulness. I believe that Africans are too fearful. Consider the fact that they tolerated slavery.
Africans would go and capture their people and sell them to Arabs and later to white folks. They did this for over one thousand years. Historical records show that they were already selling themselves to Arab Muslims by 700 AD and did not really stop doing so until around 1900 (when Europeans finally took over most of Africa and stopped slave trade). Around 1500 AD Africans added selling themselves to Europeans. You can see the product of that heinous behavior in the millions of African-Arabs and African Americans. Can people who sell their people have good self- esteem? I do not think so.
Africans tolerated slavery. Why? Clearly nobody wants to be a slave. Africans tolerated slavery because they were a fearful people. They wanted to live at all costs and the slave master pointed guns at them and threatened to kill them if they did not accept their slave status. They accepted their slave status in other not to be killed by the slave masters.
Slave masters, be they Arabs, white folks or Africans were obviously terrorists; they were terrorists because they used guns to make people do what they want them to do rather than use reason to persuade them to do so. Slave masters aroused fear of death in slaves and out of fear of harm and death slaves obeyed them and accepted slavery.
The slave remained a slave for as long as his master, the terrorist pointed a gun at him. If the gun was removed clearly the average person would escape from slavery. It is fear of harm and death that kept slaves in bondage.
Those slaves who did not want to be slaves struggled to free themselves and generally were killed. They died trying to become freemen; they died heroic deaths.
Would a person who out of fear of harm and death tolerated slavery have positive self-esteem? I do not think so. If I pointed a gun at you and told you to do something or else I killed you, you know that you have a choice in the matter, to defy me and get killed or to obey me and live. If you obey me and live as my slave it is your choice to be my slave. Because fear of death had made you tolerate my abuse you cannot have positive self-esteem.
The slave does not have positive self-esteem for he knows that he is a slave because he is a fearful person, a coward.
I am saying that slaves are fearful persons and do not have positive self-esteems, for positive self-esteem can only be found in those who defend their freedom to live their lives on their own terms, not on other peoples terms.
In this light, African-Arabs, African Americans, ex slaves cannot really have good self-esteem unless they work at it, for deep down they recognize that their ancestors were slaves because of their fear of harm and death. When they defy fear of death and stand up for the freedom of their people they begin to develop good self-esteem. But as long as they feel intimidated by white folks (in North Africa, by Arab folks) they are timid people and have low self-esteem. They may talk loudly but we all know that not all people that talk loudly have good self-esteem.
SLAVE SELLERS HAD NEGATIVE SELD ESTEEM
The Africans who sold their people into slavery cannot possibly have positive self-esteem. Can a person who likes himself and his people go capture them and sell them to foreigners (Arabs and white folks)? It is impossible for a man who has positive self-esteem to capture another man and sell him into slavery. Africans who sold their people into slavery had low self-regard for if they had good self-regard they would fight to protect their people.
A man must hate himself to sell other men into slavery. I have painfully observed the descendants of the known slave catchers in Igbo land, Aro, Abam and Ngwa (for four hundred years those clans roamed Alaigbo capturing Igbos and selling them to white men at the seacoast). I must tell you that I have not seen any of them with positive self-esteem. What I see are folks who hate themselves, deny their self-hatred and project it to other persons. They talk as if they love Igbos but actually hate Igbos. You love Igbos and you go about capturing them and selling them into slavery? Give me a break, will you; we are not all fools, you know.
Only a man who hates himself would sell another human being into slavery, go home and live with himself. Slave sellers had total self-contempt but masked it with their primitive bravados (that is, feeling powerful from the criminal work of capturing folks to be sold...at present these same folks kidnap Igbos and hold them hostage for monetary ransom; kidnaping people is now part of these depraved people’s culture).
SLAVE OWNERS HAD NEGATIVE SELF ESTEEM
Those who bought and used slaves did not have good self-esteem. Those who used slaves by holding the threat of harming or killing them were terrorists. Terrorists do not have good self-esteem; they have low self-esteem but mask it by acting tough.
I am saying that Arabs and white Americans who had slaves hated themselves as much as the slaves they had. Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and other Southern USA slave owners could not have had good self-esteem. They loathed themselves and projected their self-hate to hatred of their slaves. Only beasts could enslave their fellow human beings. The devil itself left people to be free and then tempt them with bad behavior, so slave owners who took away peoples freedom were more evil than the devil itself; they were Satan in human forms.
Both the slave and slave master had low self-esteem. Good self-esteem inheres in serving our mutual good. Good self-esteem lies in loving and respecting all human beings, black and white.
THIEVISH AFRICAN LEADERS HAVE LOW SELF ESTEEM
In contemporary Africa a few Africans essentially hijacked their African governments and use their positions of power to loot their national treasuries. Nigerians politicians use their offices to steal from the national treasury.
There is no other way of putting it other than to say that the average Nigerian politician is a thief. The Nigerian head of state, governor, legislature etc. is a thief and knows it.
Can a thief have positive self-esteem? I don’t think so. I have personally interacted with some Nigerian politicians and know that they have low self-esteem. Though they occupy powerful positions in their country and masquerade around as big men they generally are fearful and lacking in self-confidence; in short they have low self-esteem.
Thieves cannot have good self-esteem. A thief may act tough but deep down he knows that he is contemptible. The only way a human being can really like and respect himself is to do what serves public good.
Sociopaths, psychopaths and criminals do not have good self-esteem. Could the chief psychopath of them all, Adolf Hitler have had good self-esteem? Can a man who devoted his life to murdering millions of people have good self-esteem? I say no. The man must have hated himself (and perhaps denied it, hid it from him). His rationalization that those he killed were uncivilized and sub human beings would not remove the self-hatred he had.
Clearly some people are less civilized than others. However, what needs to be done is to civilize them. Build schools and provide all people with scientific education and thus bring them to par with other people; do not go about killing them just because they are objectively backward.
PEOPLE WITH GOOD SELF ESTEEM SEEK WAYS TO UPLIFT SUFFERING HUMANITY
Africans that put other Africans down, desecrate them have particularly low self-esteem; their low self-esteem is as bad as their ancestors who captured their people and sold them into slavery. People who have good self-esteem, who like themselves do not sell their people, and do not insult people. People with good self-esteem love their selves and love those around them, respect their selves and respect those around them.
If you have good self-esteem and you see poor people or suffering people what you are motivated to do is do your best to help them. People with good self-esteem uplift downtrodden mankind. They do whatever they can do to make sure that those around them feel worthwhile and value themselves.
EXISTENCE INDUCES LOW SELF ESTEEM IN PEOPLE
The conditions of existence can make human beings doubt their value and worth. We are born in bodies, bodies that will die and rot and smell worse than feces. Nature does not have regard for our safety, for volcanos, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, diseases and other natural disasters destroy us as they destroy other animals and trees. Nature has no regard for us and do not recognize our desired specialness. Nature sees us as worthless and treats us as such and these make us have low self-worth.
The least that we could do is defy nature and develop self-regard for ourselves. If nature sees us as worthless we do not have to agree with it and see ourselves as worthless. We can see ourselves as worthwhile and treat ourselves as such.
I know that nature treats me as if I have no value. I know that my body is going to be food for worms. I do not have illusions of who I am; as far as nature is concerned I am nothing. I do not have deluded self-concept (delusion disorder is an attempt to give one’s self worth, albeit grandiose self-worth when one perceives that nature treats one as worthless). I accept that existentially I am worthless. Nevertheless, I choose to repose worth on me and all people. I see me as important, I see all people as important. This is self-assigned importance, it is not importance given to me and us by nature or God (I do not acknowledge a God that is outside me; if there is God he is my higher self, our higher self, the point at which we all are joined and are one self).
OUR FUNCTION IS TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER
My function, my job, as I assign it to myself, is to help me and all of us develop positive self-esteem. I see it as my duty to make me and you develop positive self-worth.
How is this task accomplished? Simple. It is accomplished by respecting me and you and by loving me and you. Love and respect for all of us is what gives us positive self-esteem. Love yourself, love other people, treat yourself with respect and treat all people with respect and you find that you have positive self-esteem.
The moment you disrespect other people, do not love them, insult them, degrade them you have lowered their worth and in the process lowered your own worth.
What you give to other people you give to yourself. If you love other people you love you. If you hate other people you hate you. If you insult other people you insult you. Giving is receiving; what you give folks you give you for in the final analysis we are one. The other person is part of you, is your extension, and how you treat him you treat your whole self (holy self).
If you enslave other people, although you may have the delusion that he is separated from you and how you treat him is not how you treat you, the fact is that all life is unified, is one, so you enslave yourself.
There is one unified life, one life with infinite parts in it. Each of us is a part of that one life. All living things are extensions of that one life and of each of us.
Because other people are extensions of us what we do to them is what we do to us. Love other people means love you (for one thing if you love other people they will love you). If you hate other people they will hate you. As you treat the world the world will treat you.
We must strive to love and respect ourselves and all people. It is love and respect that gives us positive self-esteem.
MATERIAL THINGS CONTRIBUTE TO GOOD SELF ESTEEM
Material things such as food, medications, clothes, shelter are necessary for our physical survival.
I do not celebrate poverty. Poverty stunts the human mind. It is difficult for the poor to have the luxury to read and develop their minds. The poor people I see around me are too busy struggling to earn a decent meal and roof over their heads to have the time to do what improves the human mind. I would most people have middle class life styles and the few who have what it takes to become rich to by all means do so.
We do not have to worship poverty as some misguided folks tell us to do. We need wealth to live the good life. I like to travel and see all parts of the world. I like to be able to wake up and decide to go somewhere and call and make plane reservations and go travel and stay in good hotels. To do so I need money.
Money makes for good living and we must have money and not look down on wealth. Access to money contributes to developing good self-esteem. Poor people are usually not respected by other people. Since people tend to see themselves as those around them see them, if they are poor and other people see them as poor and not respect them that may dispose them to not respect themselves.
If you are a boy and do not have money you cannot take your girlfriend out to expensive restaurants and buy for her those things that make living pleasurable; and the chances are that you may not even be able to get a girlfriend! If you are married and do not have money I doubt that your woman would respect you. In fact many women would leave you if you are poor.
Money helps; no one should have doubt about that. But having had access to some money one needs to love one’s self and other selves if one wants to have positive self-esteem.
Africans generally do not have positive self- esteem; many of them do not even understand the indicators of good self-esteem. They seem to think that acting tough, verbally abusing their fellow Africans, while bowing down before white folks whom they over value and fear, and stealing from their people makes them have good self- esteem. No.
Those who have good self-esteem are generally calm and not boastful; they generally go about living their lives peacefully, doing what they enjoy doing and have aptitude in doing; they respect and love all the people around them.
People with good self-esteem do their best to contribute to social welfare rather than detract from it. Although there is no study correlating good self-esteem and ability to be a good student or high productivity in the work place I suspect that Africans low productivity is related to their general low self-esteem. My hunch is that if Africans improve their self-esteems they would become better learners and better workers and thus grow their stalled economies.
Whereas there is no correlation between good self-esteem and economic productivity there is correlation for good self-esteem and happiness. Those who have good self-esteem tend to be happy people, although happy people are not necessarily the hardest working people on earth.
We must help Africans, black Americans, white Americans, Arabs, slaves and slave masters to understand that they have low self-esteem and then teach them what constitutes good self-esteem.
August 30, 2012