An assumption is a thing accepted as true without question or proof. If a stranger introduces himself as OKON, you assume he is OKON. If OKON comes to marry your daughter, you demand proof not only that he is OKON but that everything associated with his OKONNESS is true.
Assumption is the fine art of balancing the cost of accepting without proof and the price of seeking proof before acceptance. Man in cave must decide quickly which animal he can eat and which one can eat him. When he meets a bear in the forest path, he assumes danger and beats a retreat. Although he might be seeing a bear for the first time, he assumes wild is dangerous. OKON IS OKON. It is neither safe nor sane to demand proof of danger before fleeing. Haste is safer than wait.
Same man collects assorted green vegetables. He is not sure which one is food and which one is poison. He tests them on his dog. He does not assume green is edible and throws everything into his soup. OKON must prove his OKONNESS. It is neither safe nor sane to accept without proof. Wait is safer than haste.
We all make assumptions from the rich is smart to the monk is holy; familiar is good and strange is bad; close is care and far is uncaring; eloquence is bright and dumb is timid. We assume the overtly religious is godly and the man less outwardly so is a brother to the devil. Many of our assumptions often go untested. When the enemy is known, haste is a virtue. When the enemy is imperceptible, tact pays more than tackle.
Thought is a product of contemplation. Assumption is an incomplete thought. Prehistoric man developed assumption as an adaptive mechanism to conserve energy and enhance survival. Millions of years after leaving the caves, we are yet to leave the assumptions they support. Central to every crisis, personal or communal is the quality of assumptions we make. Ethnic profiling is fuelled by assumption. OKON IS OKON. It limits the mind to a single view in a space where options may be infinite.
If he speaks differently , dresses differently, prays differently, he is different. If he is different, he is bad. Because he is bad, he is dangerous. Because he is dangerous, he is my enemy. Assumption leads us down the Gallows road where those we fight are bad and those we protect are good. No proof required. OKON IS OKON.
Nigeria is today a bitterly divided country. It is not the nation our first anthem described – diverse in tongues and tribes, united in brotherhood. Hate has become a fast moving consumer good. Many are profiteering from telling us how race and religion make us different. These merchants of hate are not as concerned about their gods and land as they are of their goods and loot. They commission the young and ignorant to walk the slippery road of bile and vile. It is the duty of every man and woman of goodwill to stand up, speak up and point the young to the refreshing pool of contemplation where they must question the assumptions that brought them this far
Anything you accept without proof is an assumption. Assumption fuels ignorance. Ignorance perpetuates assumption. When they tell you the enemy is Adamu, Emeka or Taiwo you may accept OKON is OKON. You may demand OKON proves his OKONNESS. Together we can stop this macabre dance of needless hate.
Onyeka Onyeibor wrote in from lagos