Last night, I was discussing Nigeria with a man from Brass (a community down on the tip of the Niger Delta, where the people have a reputation for being tough, stubborn and particularly resistant to schemes). I said that to get things done here you have to be very persistent and stubborn--and that I was probably getting a reputation for being stubborn.
He said "You are not stubborn. You are Nigerian."
Well! Glad that it only took 4 weeks to become an honorary Nigerian. However, the statement and discussion got me thinking. Sure, we can all lament the things that don't work in Nigeria. There is an almost vulgar (to me, possibly to others) gap between the haves and have-nots, and between the ready availability of any flashy thing you want (champagne, fancy cars, fancy anything) but functioning schools for your average Nigerian (the wealthy send their kids to private schools), basic infrastructure (Bayelsa is beter than most with decent roads and such) and such are really tough to come by.
So, my question to this man from Brass was, what's holding Nigeria together?
He said: Fear. The Biafran war (Nigeria's recent civil war between the three major ethnic groups) was so terrible that no one wants to go back to that. So fear of that experience keeps everyone from pushing too far.
I would also add money--there is vast wealth in Nigeria, so even if you waste a lot of it, some of it goes somewhere useful...right?
I'd also add stubbornness.
What else? What holds it all together? What holds any state (by state I mean country) together?
I've also included links to interesting articles about most of the countries listed below.
What about Turkey or Syria?
What about Pakistan? Lebanon?
What about China or the US?
I'd like to hear your thoughts.