In the course of my research work I encountered a word which was described as a certain kind of phobia when I consulted my dictionary. It triggered my curiosity and I decided to delve more into the subject matter and I was astonished at what I came up with. Please share the discovery with me. I became acquainted with the word phobia in my primary school days as a result of constant forays with the dictionary. I understood the word phobia better when I came of age and realized that I had a strong fear of heights. I would give anything not to live or work in a high rise building. I will not even touch a five storey building with a pole. This is because I find myself wondering what I would do if the building suddenly start crumbling. I also cannot bear to look out the window or balcony or any open space on a high rise building for fear that I may suddenly slip and fall out. In fact I get woozy when I look down from tall buildings. Morbid thoughts you will say but that is the power and intensity of phobias and by extension fear.
Fear is one of the most primal and powerful human emotions. Almost everyone has an irrational fear or two. It makes you cower, whimper and cringe and cry like a child especially when you know the end is near, ask late Saddam Hussein of Iraq, ask late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Ask our so called ex-looters or ex-governors (it is now a fad to be a member of the looters club) how they feel when EFCC (the toothless bull dog come for them) ask Dimeji Bankole how he felt at the end of his reign as a speaker? Ask him how he felt when EFCC surrounded his house while he barricaded himself and made frantic calls to higher powers in a bid to get a soft landing. It is fear. Anyway, back to the subject matter, phobia, you cannot help it especially when you encounter the object which triggers off that feeling. It is most times an intense, exaggerated, inappropriate or irrational fear of an object, person, organism, activity or situation which is actually in no position at all to cause harm to the person but interferes to a certain degree with the normal life or activity of the person who suffers from that phobia. It is a kind of fear that doesn’t go away but you deal with it by trying to avoid that the situation or thing that scares you. Although some medical practitioners say one can actually overcome the fear or anxiety but it all depends on how strong and willing you are to face and control the anxiety disorder. The symptoms are difficulty in breathing, feeling of panic, intense shaking or trembling, sweating, increase in heartbeat, anxiety, nausea, and dizziness. In many instances the sufferer tries as much as possible to avoid any object or situation that may trigger off such panic attacks.
Phobias are classified by medical experts as anxiety disorders and further divided into the following; animal phobias, open space phobia, medical phobia, height phobias, social phobias, other phobias (inanimate objects, groups, food and drink, travel, situations, environment, and miscellaneous phobias) religious phobias, sense phobias. Each group has a phobia for every imaginable word associated with human existence. As I dug deeper, I realized that the subject matter is very wide. It is even grouped in alphabetical order, from A to Z (Ablutophobia to Zoophobia). Even writing which I love with a passion has a phobia which is called GRAPHOPHOBIA while jobs which the Federal and State governments are unable to provide for millions of graduates in this country have a phobia and it is called ERGOPHOBIA. Here is a list of some phobias.
· Arachnophobia- Fear of spiders
· Social phobia- Fear of social situations
· Aerophobia- Fear of flying
· Agoraphobia- Fear of open spaces
· Claustrophobia- Fear of closed spaces
· Emetophobia- Fear of vomit
· Carcinophobia- Fear of cancer
· Rontophobia- Fear of thunderstorms
· Necrophobia- Fear of death
· Acrophobia- Fear of heights
However, on a more serious note, I have observed that Nigerians more than citizens of other countries suffer from another additional set of phobias which is as a result of the harsh and unsecure environment in which they struggle to make ends meet daily. The phobias are as follows:
· Police phobia- Fear of being killed by police because of twenty naira
· Politician phobia- Fear of politicians who promise heaven and earth to you but loot your treasury dry and leave you impoverished
· Kidnapper phobia- Fear of kidnappers who ask for ransom
· Queue phobia- Fear of waiting endlessly in long queues at filling stations during periods of scarcity of fuel and kerosene
· Christmas phobia-(this is for parents)You start thinking how to raise money to meet up with children demands for gifts when you have not been paid salaries for months
· Militant phobia- Fear of militants who blow up oil well
· Bokoharam phobia- Fear of Islamic fundamentalists who have no regard for human life
· Rape phobia- Fear of rapist who rape ladies in schools, at home, offices and anywhere they fancy
· Subsidy phobia- Fear of GEJ removing oil subsidy
· Penis phobia- Fear of losing your penis to manhood thieves
· EFCC phobia- Fear of hearing that another group of ex-looters have been arrested knowing full well that it is just a comic entertainment
· PHCN phobia- Fear of Never having light for months in your house
· Road phobia- Fear of dying on bad roads in Nigeria, especially in my state, Abia
· Unemployment Phobia- Fear of not having a job after graduation
· Election phobia- Fear of going to cast votes knowing that it won’t count
· Poverty phobia- Fear of not knowing where your next meal may come
· Education phobia- Fear of not having quality education because of lack of facilities in the government owned primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in Nigeria
· Health phobia- Fear of dying in a government hospital where there is no drugs(certified mortuary)
· Flood phobia- Fear of flood as a result of blocked drainage
· Mosquito phobia- Fear of catching malaria as a result of dirty environment
· Armed robbers phobia- Fear of being robbed by armed robbers because of inadequate security
· Judiciary phobia- Fear of seeking justice at the law court if you are a poor man
· Minimum wage phobia- Being in a state of anxiety, not knowing if you will be paid minimum wage or not
· Sack phobia- Fear of being thrown into the labour market because there is no job security and your being in the employed bracket lies on the whims of your employer. (For instance, Abia state governor has chosen to relieve non indigenes of their appointment in the state).
· Assassination phobia -Fear of being killed for being a thorn in the flesh of your rulers, political opponents, business partners etc.
· Arrest phobia- Fear of being arrested for running your mouth or speaking against powerful forces(ask The Nation newspaper editors)
· Breath of fresh air phobia- You don’t know when the breath of fresh air GEJ promised will start circulating in Nigeria
· Corruption phobia-You hear about it every day, you read about it in the papers, in fact you see concrete evidences of it around you. People are actually arrested but nobody is ever punished because they are innocent (It is either given the coloration of a political vendetta with hired crowd arranged to ‘cheer the supposed victimized person’ in the court room, or a plea bargain (go and sin no more), or a corrupt judge gives a perpetual injunction restraining the appropriate authorities from arresting someone.
· Promised land phobia- Every government sings about it but like Moses in the Holy Bible you will not get to it
· Dividends of democracy phobia- OBJ coined it and every successive government has been talking about it but it is actually elusive. It is yet to be seen.
· Revolution phobia- (this is for the political class) Fear of the unknown, not sure when Nigerians will buy into the revolution going on at the moment in the Arab world and revolt against them
These last set of phobias which I call the Nigerian phobias are real. They are not a product of imagination. We feel them; in fact a lot of Nigerians die from some of them on a daily basis. They are like an open sore on the body, very painful. No matter how hard we try to forget that they exist, even when we try to live in a dream land, something always happens to jolt our senses back, to bring us back to the painful reality.
Life in Nigeria is a daily struggle to stay alive but despite that, we are the happiest people on Earth.
UBANI IKEDICHI EMENIKE