Panacea to Nigerian Predicaments in the Light of Soren Kierkegaard Authentic Existence

Panacea to Nigerian Predicaments in the Light of Soren Kierkegaard Authentic Existence




It was Martin Heidegger in his Being and Time, who changed the course of study laid down by his predecessors who were more interested in autonomous sciences. He set out to revive philosophy, not only of the problem of man but also that of ‘Being’. It is also the view of anthropologists that the study of man be given a central place in existence. They hold that all that exist is directed towards the explanation, understanding and well-being of man.

However, man is far from realizing the plans made for him, when he demotes himself as one of the ‘thrown objects’ of Spinoza. Thus, the conscious realization of man as regards his place in the world will qualify him as not just ‘being-there’ as posited by Heidegger but more of an independent being capable of making choices as well as being responsible for them. It then behooves on man, the need to assert his existence in an authentic form. Having realized his being as one placed in charge of all other things according to Genesis account of creation, he must seek a way of giving meaning to his personal life. This constitutes the main purpose of this work.

Furthermore, man’s existential struggle and facts of life (grenz-situationen) daily unveil to him the more need to be personally responsible for his life. It is this background acting as the anti-thesis that provides for him the thesis of transcending the ‘crowd mentality’ to the awareness that he is but an individual. As a result, he sought to explain the world from his own person instead of the crowd. Here rests the importance of self-formation, not just for the sake of others but also for one’s personal life.

It has been said that cultivation of citizens is the fertile ground for that of a nation. A glance at the occasional situations of unrest in our country cannot but reveal the extent of our existential doldrums. The polity, economy, religion, etc are nothing without the existence and activity of man.

Bearing this in mind, it then means that our problems lie primarily in cultivation of people because as Plato had it, a non-philosopher leader is not worthy of being the leader; a non cultivated leader is nothing but canker-worm to any society.

Primarily one should be good in himself in other to radiate goodness unto others, for nobody gives what he has not. The same applies to those in the helm of affairs, be that religion, economy, education, etc, they should be cultivated to live as authentic being before they can lead others well. (With this, we Nigerians shall come to the realization of our potentials, extricate ourselves from European colonialization, modernized in form of trade union where they dictate the stand of our products.) Hence, if the ruler and the ruled in Nigeria live genuine and existential life, malaise of any sort will give way to a more responsible life. Then is the aim of this work realized.


It is over-laboring the obvious if one should ask what the problem is. It is experienced right under everybody’s nose. In politics, our leaders do not heed to the basic unwritten law that their private interest should not come in conflict with that of the public. We have experienced series of political crisis, economic malaise, social instability, and even religious upheaval.

‘The fact that every where in the world, Nigerians are generally feared like mad dogs, dreaded like criminals, cautiously approached like dangerous snakes and watchfully avoided like lepers’[1] is a glaring prove of the extent of our problem.

It was John Stuart Mill who said that ‘it is a crime, punishable by law to bring a child into the world without giving him a necessary education’[2]. If education is left only in the hands of the few, what then becomes the fate of the future generation? Definitely, we shall not meet up with knowledge which Francis Bacon said is power. The widespread ‘okada’ syndrome, conductor and driving profession, increasing number of hawkers, etc, that are mainly taken up by youths who should be in the school and under the guidance of the state, undoubtedly unmask deadly canker worm in the bones of our society.

Professor C.B. Okolo underlined ‘squandermania mentality’[3] as the central problem of our country. This he defined as a situation whereby every Tom, Dick and Harry develops a passive consumerism rather than productive attitude to issues. Our leaders, just like their citizens, are mostly preoccupied with the here and now that they fail to see beyond the immediate satisfaction and interest of the moment. As a result, there is no provision for the future and its generation.  An immersion into the world of ‘now’ shows some kind of resistance to pain and discipline needed today for a better tomorrow.

Another problem that is associated with this is alienation and marginalization of oneself. Authentic life has to do with being oneself and having freedom either to choose or reject something. Because of the absence of this awareness, people do not even recognize what is their right and position in the society. We tend to project our problems as caused by the westerners or others. We alienate ourselves from our resources and the revenue that accrue from them.

Unemployment has even affected the enlightened class. What then is the stand of uneducated? It is not uncommon to find grown-ups with negative orientation that is dangerous for our society. As a result of the hard situation, one makes up his mind to take the risk of life, which will either see him out of his pitiable situation or face the wrath of infringing the law of the state. The fact that criminals, drug barons, prostitutes, etc, are on the increase is not unconnected with this.


My task in this project is not to review or reinterpret the work of existentialists or Soren Kierkegaard precisely, but more of a synthesis, sieving, abstraction, mediation on the hinge points of existentialism, with that of Kierkegaard and then juxtaposing it with our country’s predicament. It is in this synthetic work that I will arrive at a more practical ways of curbing these problems.

Precisely, I am to make use of Soren Kierkegaard’s individual authentic existence in which he not only takes cognizance of the individual but also his genuine relationship with the crowd, search for ultimate good and meaning of life. Morestill, I do not intend going theocentric, rather a search to fill the deep chasm in man by personalizing the objective truth in every individual person.

It is the thought of Paul Ricoeur and Hans Gadamer that before a background, there must be a foreground, for no one speaks from nowhere. Similarly, this project is set up because of some problems. It begins with the background and the problems that led to the emergence of existentialism. The various thoughts of existentialists are not left out, and then follow Kierkegaard’s works and contributions. A review of Nigerian situation is followed by some restorative measures. Finally comes, the evaluation and conclusion.


[1] John Okwoeze Odey, The Paradox Of A Nation (Enugu, Snaap Press, 2003) p. 10

[2] Ekwutosi C.M, Freedom and determinism (unpublished lecture), 2006

[3] B.C Okolo. Squandermania Mentality: A reflection of Nigerian Situation( Nsukka: University Press 1990)

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