Could DIY culture be Nigeria’s answer to nation-building?
Many Nigerians who’ve lived in several Western countries would have observed the DIY culture. In these societies, it is common for a person to buy a house strip off & replace the wallpaper or paint; strip off the carpets and replace with a wooden floor; build the garden shed & replace the garden fence; build wardrobes, drawers, cabinets; fix new bathtub, etc. All that would be achieved without the person being an expert (a painter, gardener, carpenter or plumber). This is common and it is called DIY – Do It Yourself. Generally, DIY means undertaking a task a paid expert would have done for you.
Of course, it may not include highly specialised task (like gas or electrical installation) but it still covers a wide range of activities. In the 70s and 80s in Nigeria, it was more common to see families do several things for themselves – sewing, doing the lawn, servicing the car, changing of car tyre. But now, it is worrying that many Nigerians are no longer undertaking these tasks because of the rise of organised society. The result is, a culture where many do not know how to undertake simple task nor utilise their brains.
Even more worrying is the fact that developed societies are extending the scope, depth and range of the DIY culture. It is no longer just about undertaking domestic task or hobbies but it is becoming a culture that empowers the individual to seek & develop answers to problems they & their society face. It is also becoming a culture that says there is no set or established way of doing things. Therefore, many programmes and platforms have been created to actualise it.
So, advanced societies are gradually moving from the era of organised shopping, organised domestication, organised religion, organised marriage, organised working hours & location, in summary an organised way of life. There are benefits of this regimented & copycat lifestyle (like convenience) but it hinders innovation, discourages individuality and creates citizens with lazy brains. This has become the case in Nigeria.
However, the advent of the technology & information age, has led to the empowerment of individuals or groups, to encourage the employment of alternative approaches when faced with bureaucratic or societal obstacles to achieving their objectives. People can now design and sew the clothes they want, and if they can’t sew, they can have control over the design, materials and colours. Some have chosen to ‘home school’ their children rather than send them to public or private school. Innovations are emerging every day to enable us create the food we want, preserve our water, travel from place to place, create our own entertainment, work from home or completely transformed offices, buy finished products or buy in parts & we finish the products to our specification, marry the partner of our choice in our own time and in our preferred ceremonies.
There is a new wave of innovation, search for individuality and the questioning of the status quo. These are products of the DIY culture and it produces a mindset that says if we want something hard enough, we can learn it and make it happen ourselves (or in a community of like-minds). Again, the growth in the availability of information & technology are key enablers and government can no longer be considered a major obstacle.
If we are honest enough, we will admit Nigeria is far from this trend. So, there is an urgent need for us to open ourselves to the liberty & empowerment that comes from the DIY culture. This will enable us witness a transformed mindset. Some other benefits will include a rise in personal responsibility for our lives and our nation; the development of a solution focused rather than a problem focused mindset; a hands-on approach to activities in our lives; more time committed to research to find solutions; the creation of innovative products and services that will address several of our national challenges, an educational system that produces graduates who can DIY rather than look for jobs, and many more.
It is true the internet is yet to make significant inroad into our rural areas but there is a sufficient number of citizens in urban areas with access to abundant & unprecedented tools (internet, information and technology) to enforce the DIY culture. We’ve been underdeveloped for too long and the only way out remains for a critical mass of our citizens to dedicate their resources (time and money), using the abovementioned tools, to generate and implement systems, products and services that will lead to the building of a developed Nigeria.
Nation-building powered by the DIY culture creates an environment of possibilities. Would you adopt the DIY culture?
Bobby Udoh is on www.Twitter.com