Happy Independence Nigeria!
The opening lyrics for Timi Dakolo’s song goes as follows.
Here we stand as a people
With one song.
With one voice
We’re a nation undivided and poised.
We will take our stand and build our land.
With faith to defend what is ours.
A very beautiful song sung by an amazing talented vocalist. But the ironies in that song just make me sad beyond words. I love being a Nigerian and that is the truth. I can’t picture myself as any other nationality apart from the one that I am. I have never sought another country’s citizenship. I have never even thought of what it would be like to be from another country. This is the only country I know. The place of my birth, my education, my coming of age, my wedding and the place where I am raising my three sons with a man that is from the south eastern part of the country.
I understand this country. I have navigated it for over 40 years and while it still has the power to surprise me now and again, for the most part, I am not moved by much. I have seen a lot over the years like you, my fellow country people. We have watched this country sink to places lower than we thought could ever be possible. Those of us born after the civil war, knew peace for the most parts. We have also lived through the ravaging insecurity that started from the north that spiralled out of control till every part of the nation was touched by it. We have seen school kids kidnapped. We have seen school boys killed in school. We have seen public places bombed. We have seen churches and markets disintegrated by explosives for a cause we do not even understand.
My children were born into a country where travelling by road is a risky sport. Now travelling by air is only for the wealthy. Most people are locked to their locations. I grew up in a country where we had road trips from the north to my hometown, Abeokuta. There was never any fear of being kidnapped. My parents travelled constantly throughout their lives without incident.
I can’t travel with my sons by road. It is too scary. Nothing is worth it. There is a saying that it is easier to raise air ticket money than ransome.
I love this country but a lot has changed and it isn’t for the better. I was a little child in the 80s. I recall the campaign to discourage Nigeria’s from “checking out” of the country. The song by VENO in the 80s, there is a line in which she says,
VENO: Andrew no check out o.
ANDREW: Say what? (in a faux American accent)
VENO: Stay and build your country. Na who go die for you?
She then sang the chorus. “NIGERIA GO SURVIVE”.
Andrew was played by the late Enebeli Elebuwa. He was used in a national orientation ad to encourage people not to leave.
Andrew said in the ad, “No light, no water, men, I’m checking out”
A hand grabs him and says “don’t check out”.
I am now living in a time when Nigerians are running away from the country in droves. People are risking it all, upturning their lives and setting roots elsewhere. It is disheartening to watch. Those of us that are here are second guessing ourselves. Are we doing the right thing by staying here? Are we dooming ourselves and the futures of our children?
It is actually scary. The rising cost of living is moving at a pace I have never seen before. And the worst part is that it just doesn’t stop. It keeps getting worse.
Timi Dakolo said in his song that we are “a nation undivided”. That is wistful thinking at best. Our last elections proved this once again that we are far from united. We are divided along every line possible. Along ethnicity, along religion, along political affiliation. You name it, we are fractured there as well. Succor seems to be far away as people plod through life daily.
Timi Dakolo’s song is a romantic but untrue song. It should be the way he sings it but it is not. Veno’s song is preferable to me. It is our slogan. We will survive. Our love for our country is a difficult one. This is simply because it doesn’t love us back. No one has taught it to love and protect it. People use this country to plunder us over and over again. There is no future plan. We just float from one day to another. We listen to the song Great Nation and we wonder if we would ever be.
Then we shake off all the thoughts and say with as much feeling as we can muster.
“Nigeria go survive.”
Happy Independence people, may this year be the year we start becoming a great nation and stop only surviving. Have a good week.