On 61!

I cannot imagine stringing flowery words together and waxing poetic while I talk about Nigeria. That’s like water and oil. They do not mix. But I can be honest and hopeful and that is what this piece is about.

The Home That Breaks Us

We cannot talk enough about the unfortunate, almost-union that birthed us. One wonders what Flora saw that caused her to name the people across the Niger. I think surely, that Lord Lugard writhes in his grave every time someone curses him for joining what most agree should have stayed asunder. Some say he made us a home we had no business living in talk less of claiming it. Because home is supposed to be the hub of happiness and even with the special gene that makes us “happy”, Nigeria is certainly not a hub of joy. A home is a place littered with smiles and echoes of belly-deep laughter. But the home that we call Nigeria is nothing like this. If anything, it’s reminiscent of an abusive marriage. It feels like we are all trapped in a home where the father deftly deals blows as the mother tries to shield the children. With her arms around them, she whispers almost imperceptibly, it will get better; but the terror in her eyes betrays her, and hope refuses to take flight. 

It must have been a momentous occasion when we wrenched our land back from the hands of the white man. Finally! We would get what was ours, our statesmen must have thought. Oh! How painfully wrong they were! We have had 61 years of dreams that almost took flight but never managed to get off the ground. Even when it looked like we took off, gravity pulled us down mid-air, and we have been moribund ever since. We have our land soaked in blood, and violence has become our anthem. Nigeria has broken us; stolen our innocence, wrecked our pride, and plundered our souls. We are like the walking dead; acutely aware of our lifeless state but finding comfort in the camaraderie of the legion of zombies that we call family.

The Home That Houses Us

The sad thing about our ongoing saga is that we have only one home. All the hinterlands of Canada cannot accommodate, and even if they could, not many can afford this process because lest we forget, we are the poverty capital of the world. Nigeria is home to Nigerians and it is the people that make the country. The character of our nation is not drawn from a vacuum, but from the collective disposition of us all. We give this nation life, and if it dies, we will all become lords of the flies that feast on our land, flies that therefore feast on us. I have no fancy way to put it; Nigeria is ours, and no matter where we go, we will always be Nigerian; the accent, Ankara, and even Jollof rice will speak for us. 

While we cannot control the government, we can control ourselves, our choices. I think it too much to dream of a truly reformed Nigeria; my heart cannot take the heartbreak. Instead, I dream, no, I act like a better Nigerian (most times I think). I take the pedestrian bridge (where there’s one) even when I am tempted to dash across the street and I do not fling my bottle of coke (I don’t drink Coke, but you get the point) out of the Danfo when I am done with it because I understand that I have to protect the environment. These are a few examples of how you can be a better Nigerian. 

The Home That Isn’t Ours

If all my entreaties fail, because we are all sound people with the right theological ideas, I’ll say be a better Nigerian because God created Nigeria: the land, the people, the culture. This means that we have a duty to this land even when our hearts are not bursting with affection for Naija. Yes, Nigeria is not our destination, but it is the inn that houses us on the way there. We are as believers to be people of righteousness and justice. Therefore, let us act accordingly. 

This is not our home, but please have mercy on Nigeria; she does not deserve it, but neither do we deserve any good thing that comes to us. We may have lost all hope, and that’s okay, but against all hope, let us be instruments of restoration in the land.

Maybe we’ll eventually get blank passports when the world restarts, or we’ll just inherit the Nigeria of our dreams. You never know.

Cheers to 61 Nigeria!

We cannot celebrate what we are now, but with the little flicker of hope left in our hearts, we can at least nod in tepid anticipation of the new dawn that lies in our hands.


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