Today marks the 9th Year of "Democracy" in Nigeria and a full year of the Yar'Adua administration. Thanks to encouragement from bloggers like Nigerian Curiosity, constantly thinking of creative ways to unite Nigerian (African) bloggers on common issues that make us tick, I'm dedicating this post to the memory of the initial advent of democracy (independence) and my hope for Nigeria in the next 50 years.
PART 1: Reflections of a Tired yet Optimistic Mother on the BUILDING of Nigeria - Independence.
(This part was cut abruptly short as my mother typed away on her email and NEPA struck before she could save the later part of this write-up...how apt! Thanks Mum!)
My memory of 1st October 1960 is an easily recalled part of my memory.
Days leading to it were like expectations of a great party. I was 7 years old and in primary 3. There was clearing up of the school grounds and rehearsals for the ‘march’. We were to be on our best behaviour and wear our best uniforms for the Independence Day celebrations.
At home, at my mother’s beer parlour where men gathered most evenings, there were loud arguments about the handing over of government. Not that I understood the discussions but their loudness and laughter, (especially as the men got more alcohol in their systems) signaled the coming of a great event. I thought independence would be one long celebration.
We lived in a small village divided in two by the Ogun River in the old Western state . It was a small village and while the men on one side were mostly farmers, those on the other side were fishermen. I did not know much about the villagers other than that some of their children were my school mates. There was however government presence in the village- the Boys’ approved School (a reformatory) of which my father was the Principal during this period. So there was also a lot of preparations as the boys prepared for the “march past” for the celebrations and visitors to the school which had a white lady as head visitor.
On that day, all pupils received branded cups, plates and the green white green flag which to us was the symbol of our independence. The flag was hoisted that day and we religiously sang to it everyday from then on. It was usual to see it proudly displayed in peoples’ parlours. There was feasting at school, at the town hall and everywhere.
In those early days, we marched round the village once a week to spread the message of free education for all by Awolowo and encourage the villagers to allow their children come to school before they joined them on the farms in the afternoon.
I bet the current state of the nation is a nightmare for the men and women of the 60s. At Independence they had a dream of a great Nigeria: now that is a dream deferred.
If we take a cue from the developments in Lagos State in the past year. I believe the good old days will return but at a price...ARE WE SET TO PAY?
Part 2: Hope for the Future
In addition to a Nigeria with all the "basics" of a developed country (civil peace, quality education, functional healthcare system, social security, state-of-the-art infrastructure, environment that spurs entrepreneurship and innovation), my hope for Nigeria in 2058 is for a Nigeria that celebrates its internal differences but stands united in the pursuit of a Nigerian dream - be it "Pursuit of Happiness", "Liberty & Justice for All", "Equality & Fraternity". Beyond the semantics, today, as a nation, we need something to inspire us, something (a sort of call to arms/ action) that can rally Nigerians from around the world, from the grassroots up, to think beyond themselves and begin the task of actually RENOVATING this nation.
What is that common thing that makes us tick/ jump into action? I would say Injustice Against the Helpless, but we as a people have become jaded by our leaders' "misactions" in that department, I'm not too sure that still holds.
Hope for our Children's Future? Traditionally, Africans worked to enable their children's prosperity, so as to ensure theirs in old age. And for those who weren't wealthy in monetary terms, they would work hard to bequeath an honourable name their children could at least be proud of. Though this varies from ethnic group to ethnic group, I believe that this is still something that most Africans still value, though the "honourable name" part has been supplanted by the quest for material wealth - a new sort of "Get rich or die trying" mentality reigns today.
True, with the growing wave of emmigration from Nigeria, many of our children will have some place else to call home, but will it ever really be 100% their true home? Perhaps. However, they deserve more. They deserve a choice. A choice to call Nigeria home. If for the sake of our children alone, Nigerians can come together to begin to work towards RENOVATING our nation, together with our leaders, then I think we stand a chance. If not, tAB will be commemmorating Democracy Day in 2058 with a similar post, as though none of this ever really was.
What's your hope/vision for Nigeria in 2058? What legacy do you want Nigeria to be for your children? Happy Democracy Day!