In search of the Nigerian dream (1)
THERE is an interesting conundrum that is taking shape before our eyes and the reality is only a few are able to see this. This has led me down the paths of thought and reflection with many a turn down the road to self assessment (I should be a poet for this).
You only have to go to our airports to have at least a partial understanding of the immense paradox in which we as a country find ourselves.
I was driving down to the office and as is my usual wont, I was listening to the early morning newspaper review. It wasn’t the news of the day that irked me which is weird when you realise I was listening to the ‘brokenness’ of my country.
What got my attention and made me shudder was the text messages, tweets (or is it twits… is a twit not an abuse, hmmm) that were been sent in.
Every complaint under the sun was clearly spelt out for the world to hear. People complained whined, complained some more, added a bit of bitter bile to the complaints and lovingly garnished them with healthy helpings of gripe.
This is my country. These are my people. The sad reality is that we as a people are broken. That’s the only way to explain it in clear enough terms. Broken down, abused, dejected and forlorn.
The average Nigerian has complaints to reach the heavens. Our prayers are even complaints when you think about it. “God can you see my situation?” Complaints about the cost of living, the sun, the government of the day, the government of yesterday, the poverty, the roads, the lack thereof of roads, the transportation system, the governor, the politicians, the football team, the coach, the corruption, the civil service…everything is laid bare and nothing is spared.
Nothing is sacrosanct. We bond on complaints. We unite on our disgruntledness (Is this a word, not sure but it fits so I am keeping it). It’s a pity that complaining is not a hobby or a paying profession; if not millions of us would be employed.
This is not to say that there are things worth not complaining about (truth is there are) but this is not the point of this write-up and any write-up that endorses complaining as a way of life should be avoided like a plague (what does this phrase actually mean? Who has been in a plague and decided to avoid it).
I decided to conduct an experiment on my own. You can do it too if you have the time to confirm the above. I walked a few meters from my house to the woman that owns a shop that sells quite a number of things.
Her shop by my estimate would have at least goods worth N200, 000 or more, which in an economy such as ours is quite healthy for a neighbourhood shop.
She is not poor, definitely not stupendously rich but judging from her tenacity and industriousness, it’s easy to tell that she is going to make it as a business woman if she aims to be such.
All I had to do to get her talking was mention the situation with NEPA (I know the name has changed but the service remains the same so the name remains). The quickest way to bond with people is to bond using a complaint.
State the problem and watch them bond with you quick. I do know that bonding requires a level of empathy but why does it have to be about how bad things are.
But the title of this write up is in search of the Nigerian dream and by God we are going to find that dream and own it. The airport is filled with thousands of people, Nigerians mostly, flying out in search of their golden fleece.
In search of that elusive dream, the search for a better way of life, an opportunity at the end of the rainbow. A lot of countries now award visas using the lottery system.
As if to say, if you want a better way of life, why don’t you head on down here. You are not guaranteed anything else but citizenship. This is where the crux of the matter is.
Have we sat down to really reflect on what the lottery system means in terms of identity and nation building? What does it say about the country giving the lottery and the country whose nationals are been ‘rewarded’ with the lottery.
It’s a statement of definite intent and a clear signal of what a nation state stands for. For as long as I can remember, I have been regaled with stories of the American dream, the European adventure. “I can leave everything behind and start life anew.”
I remember days when someone gets up on the pulpit and regales the congregation to shouts of Hallelujah about winning the American visa lottery.
The prevailing sentiment was that he or she as the case may be was moving on to bigger and better things. Where did it all begin? When did we decide that that was a noteworthy achievement worthy of praise as the case may be?
We took a look at our own country and decided that to hell with this Lord-forsaken country, we need to get away from here and move to ‘God’s own country’.
Forgetting in our hurry to queue for visas that these countries have been where we have been albeit a while back and decided that their future was going to be bright. The reality is that they imagined a future for them and worked towards it. To be continued. firstname.lastname@example.org 08141279834.