Hello, my name is Olamide and I am proudly Nigerian, on some days; but on others, not so much. Our characteristically green coloured passport could get me into a lot of trouble at any international airport. I would have to wait for hours to go through the rigors of getting searched by airport security like a bomb-carrying terrorist just for owning that little green document.
When I was much younger, I loved to read the papers. I would pore over every column and take in every word at the breakfast table in my over-sized nerdy glasses and homemade pigtails. I would read about news of market places burning to the ground, a few kidnappings here and there and on a few occasions, plane crashes. Each time I came across news of terrorism and insurgency in other countries like Iraq and Afghanistan I would shrug and think to myself, “that’s never gonna happen here.” I could not have been more naive and childish. I knew there had been religious uprisings in North but I had never imagined that I would hear news of bomb blasts or that sacred word ‘terrorism’ spoken with reverence in a country that I had just begun to know and love.
Nigeria my Nigeria, O how the mighty have fallen. Now that I am all grown up, I almost never remember to read the news because I live in a bubble, a ‘med school induced bubble’, my life now revolves around those large sized texts that I sometimes cannot get my head around. I love my country and I want nothing but the best for her. Although I may not be involved in any peace keeping or humanitarian tasks, I can only hope that I can make a difference in my immediate environment. I will admit that when I heard about the first bomb blast in Abuja, I was stupefied! My young mind could not comprehend such barbaric acts, and then I thought to myself, ‘nobody deserves that’ but then I shrugged, and thanked heavens that it didn’t affect me or my family. I couldn’t have been more wrong. If my motherland sneezes, then I sneeze as well.
For so long, I, like millions of other young Nigerians have lacked a true sense of belonging and patriotism for a nation that we have pledged to serve. I have been cynical about Nigeria mostly because I had grown up listening to conversations by disillusioned and disappointed adults that only told of hiking fuel prices, unemployment and insecurity, and I would silently wish that I had been born elsewhere. I am probably not courageous enough to be the Nelson Mandela of my generation but I dream of a nation where things actually work like they are supposed to and where leaders are not in an endless battle of wills while scrambling for their piece of the national cake.
I am not a citizen of any other country, and I have no place to run if things spiral completely out of control. The land of my birth is hanging on by a thread. Storms are brewing and nothing short of a revolution can save us now.
Complacency and nonchalance are the worst of our many weaknesses. News of bomb blasts and kidnappings of innocent school children shock us for only a minute, and then we shrug and move on. I long for a peaceful Nigeria where I can take an evening stroll with my lover without fear of being attacked or blasted to pieces. It is no longer enough to complain for a minute and move on for that makes us no better than the perpetrators themselves.
Hope is all I have now, hope that Nigeria will rise and fight for her life and win too. Then like a phoenix, she will rise from the ashes of corruption, violence and moral decadence.
So help her God.