I had taken being Nigerian for granted all my life. Being at home, there is almost no reason to wear your nationality, that’s all one knows how to be anyway. Growing older and being more in touch with the world, it seems to dawn on people that ‘your nationality is your pride’.
Visiting different countries especially when family and friends live in such places can be very different from living in them; you are made to feel at home and can be shown around easily. There is a tendency to be shielded from some of the experiences that one gets exposed to while living in the Diaspora. See my previous post, 'Tales from the Diaspora'
With this realization, your nationality is either a blessing or a curse – at least so it seems. I noticed that people of any country living abroad tend to be more nationalist than those at home.
I happen to spend a portion of my daily life around foreigners who are of course white. I find it strange for someone to look at me and call me coloured. Someone said to me recently "I love coloured people" and the first thought that crossed my mind was, for him to have to say that, something is terribly wrong. I am proudly black, I was born this way and always will be this way. From my point, I am not coloured, I am just me and I am comfortable in this skin of mine :-) I hear way too much these days how being black stands for everything wrong and its funny. Whoever made any other person judge over an entire race??? Takes me down memory lane...Back in school, we recited the words of a famous negritude civil rights activist, W.E.B. Du Bois "Je suis nègre, et je me glorifie de ce nom ; je suis fier du sang noir qui coule dans mes veines" (I am black and I take pride in this fact, I am proud of the African blood that runs through my veins). Those words come alive much more than ever.
I visted l'île de Gorée (Gorée Island) earlier this month. As old as the stories are, they remain heart breaking. Reading those stories, having them narrated, painted a vivid picture. I had a lump in my throat the whole time, I fought back tears. A line from the speaker that left Dakar with me was 'black people were not considered to be human beings but mere commodities'. We once were for sale. After going through all that once upon a time, we bring this insanity on ourselves consciously in Nigeria today?
Many of us, Nigerians living abroad shy away from our country. Its almost so easy to say: so much is wrong with and in Nigeria!
Nigeria was once peaceful...at least to some extent... but now, the things we only watched in movies are here to stay with us. My heart bleeds but as it is, I cannot proffer a solution alone. It is next to normal now to hear of bomb blasts every now and then. I may not be a security personnel but I am sure there is a way to solve this menace.
A committee was recently set up to probe a situation but the leader of the committee has suddenly become the bone of contention. In the last week, we have watched our 'leaders' shamelessly point accusing fingers at one another and in the process have unveiled the wanton greed that has taken over the ruling class. This monster called corruption that has eaten so deep into the very foundation of our existence as a people. As if that isn't enough, the security challenges have escalated out of control. We have all tossed the blame around but that hasn't solved anything. Haven't we done that long enough? It's about time we all took the blame!
Where is the place of the youth in all this I wonder? They are hardly given room to contribute to policy formulation. At best, some write, some argue in beer parlours and other hang out places while the rest sit and watch it all unfold.
It starts from me and yes, you! It's about being the difference you want to see, standing up to right in the face of wrong. In your own little way, be the change. We've waited long enough on the government, we've done nothing for too long. There will be no Nigeria without you and me. "If nothing is done soon, all that will be left will be sand...desolate, cursed, haunted!"