The myth of the continuity of ones heritage


Sanusi Maiwada:

     If I may summarize what you told me today in our telephone conversation, it is that Nigerians in the diaspora who have children in America and Europe that the children seldom return to live in Nigeria and, therefore, are lost to their Nigerian heritage and culture, and nobody would live in their fathers’ houses in their villages. You indicated that this is a loss for such men and that some of them may be unhappy because of this outcome. You talked further about the plight of older Nigerians in the West, that like Americans they may end up in assisted living homes or nursing homes and that this is awful outcome of events.

    I asked: Do Nigerians take care of their elderly parents that are dumped in the villages, many of them unable to collect their pensions and their children are unable to support them, and given the almost total absence of good medical care for the elderly in Nigeria, they barely survive and die miserable deaths? I told you of a couple of elderly Nigerians, graduates of Harvard and Berkely, who worked in Nigeria until they retired, who had to return to the USA because of poor medical services and general poverty. So why is living in Nigeria a haven for elderly Nigerians?

    The general implication of what you said is that people have children to guarantee their continuity in their world; this would be tantamount to what our social biologist friends like Edward Wilson and Richard Dawkins called the selfish genes motivation in parents struggle to take care of their children, to guarantee that those children lived after they died. In other words, they sacrificed for the children, not altruistically but for selfish genes, their egos survival.

    Is this kind of motivation healthy? Why should one struggle for one’s ego survival? Moreover, how many generations would one’s ego survive through one’s offspring before one is forgotten?

    In most circumstances, after about 150 years no one really knows his ancestors! I can trace my ancestors to 1900 but beyond that I do not know.

     My last name, Osuji, is not even my ancestor’s last name. The father of my father’s father was called Osuji, but that man’s own father was called Njoku, and Njoku’s father had a different name that I do not know. I do not even know where my ancestors lived two or more hundred years ago; we tried to do a little family history and discovered that our ancestors

lived all over Igboland and settled at Owerri no more than two hundred years ago. So, where is my home, Owerri, Aba, Arochukwu, Enugu, Edu (in the Middle West) places where my ancestors lived.

     The point is that folks lose touch with their ancestors in a little over a hundred and fifty years, so how is one serving those ancestors selfish genes need to survive through one when one does not even know who they are?


     As you know, I am philosophical by nature, so I have given the relationship between parents and their offspring some thoughts. I believe in life before we are born on earth and in reincarnation. I tend to believe that children, before birth on earth, select their parents, and their parents select them. The children select parents with the genes that would enable them to have the types of bodies they desire on earth, bodies that may enhance what they came to earth to do.

     Intelligence is inherited so a child who desires good intelligence selects parents with above average intelligence; a child that wants to be athletic selects parents with strong bodies and so on.

     Children select parents who can take care of their material needs when they are young, and the parents get the delusion of their genes living through their children and that makes them work to provide for those children. Thus, both parents and offspring use each other for delusional goals (it is delusional to live on earth, a place of sorrows, but masked as a place giving us opportunity to seem powerful and important).

    Pure rationality suggests that folks should not have children for there is really no need to sacrifice for one’s offspring, moreover, the world is already overpopulated and does not need more people in it.

    However, if folks feel a need to produce children that might serve humankind, they could have them, but not for selfish needs.

     I personally could care less if my children have my last name or not and do not care if they guaranteed my genes survival or not.

    Given the loads of problems that my body caused me, I do not particularly want my genes to survive in this world. I do not want to be party to bringing children to this world to come suffer. If I had known what I now know I would not have had children.

     Human beings ought not to live in bodies, for to live in bodies is to suffer; certainly, they should not live in egos, for to live in egos is to be in prison and hell.

     Heaven is living outside ego and body, living as pure spirit, as part of unified spirit self.

     In sum, some of the reasons why you advocated for folks returning to live in Nigeria, such as to maintain the continuity of their past and present heritages, seem nice but does not appeal to pure reason.

     If people must live, they ought to live in any part of the world that they want to live in. Africans should not be condemned to living only in that wretched continent called Africa, they ought to be able to live elsewhere in the world and accept the cultural practices of the people they live with.

    In the USA, the trajectory of life is that a kid lives with the parents to age eighteen, graduate from secondary school and go to college/university; upon graduating from university, he moves into an apartment and saves up money to make a down payment on a house purchase. Thereafter, he buys his own house; works the expected forty years and retires; and sells his house and moves into an apartment, preferably a condominium, so that he does not have to do the yard work that houses require.

   He travels around the country and the world, gets old and dies; the typical white American dies in his eighties (Black American life span is lower).

      Some elderly Americans have medical issues and cannot maintain an apartment and check into assisted living homes or nursing homes and live there until they die and are buried in their town’s cemetery (or cremated) and their ashes spread in the bushes.

     I am extremely cold in appraising these things; I am very realistic; I am not sentimental about these issues. As I see it, one can die in any part of the world and get buried there. Where was my great, great, great grandfather buried, Owerri or Arochukwu? I do not know and do not care!

      The idea of living in Africa for the sake of doing so is silly; one should live in Africa if one has useful skills that one wants to use to contribute to Africa’s development.

     I contribute to Africa’s development through my numerous books and articles; I do not have to be physically present in Africa to be useful to Africans.

    However, as I told you, my personal goal is that henceforth I will be migrating all over Africa, doing workshops on subjects dear to my heart, management, and leadership; I have authored several books on that subject; I want to help train Africans on how to run modern nation-states and large-scale economies and business corporations.

     These are just some of the thoughts that came to my mind after talking to you this morning. Say hi to folks at Abuja and Zaria. I hope to see you there sometime this year.

Ozodi Osuji

February 9, 2022

Comments are closed.