All lives matter. This is the response that is often heard in some quarters to the grievances expressed by the Black Lives Matter movement. There are things to be said in support of the views of folks on both sides of the debate. In actual fact, nations such as the USA, the UK, France and others of that ilk do not seem to have major problems with overpopulation. Perhaps this is due to the mindsets that are subtly taught to the citizens through education, arts and culture.
This way of thinking hasn’t gained ground in many parts of Africa. A couple of decades ago, I visited Lagos after being away for a very long time. When I saw my father, he asked me for my opinion about the way the city had changed in the time I had been away. I told him I felt there were too many people. It simply felt unsafe, especially with the numbers of young underprivileged folk who were out on the streets at any time of the day.
My Dad’s response was as follows: “People will breed….”. On the surface, there wasn’t anything particularly controversial about this remark. In the Old Testament of the Bible, some prominent characters in the narrative were told to “Go forth and multiply”. Based on my hazy recollections from Biology lessons, I understand that all forms of life have a natural impulse to procreate.
At other points in history, overpopulation probably wasn’t a major bone of contention in most societies, because science hadn’t discovered ways of keeping people alive for as long as we live nowadays. Circumstances have changed considerably in recent years, putting the Welfare State under threat in several wealthy countries.
A friend based in Lagos sent me a photo of commuters waiting for buses this morning in the sweltering heat. He blamed the government for not finding ways to alleviate the daily congestion and hours of waiting for buses that Lagosians have to face. I am still of the opinion that population issues need to be addressed in Nigeria and several other countries, in order to the give the governments and other functionaries a fighting chance to catch up with the needs and demands of the people.