I remember when I was a little child, my father used to tell me stories about our great country Nigeria. How loyal the people were, how people with different backgrounds, beliefs, traditions, cultures, religions could stay together in peace and harmony.
He said to me one day ‘‘in the village those days, children were raised by the entire village.’’ Let me use my mother tongue to say it ‘‘Omo yin ni omo wa’’ only those who were born in the village will understand. And it was said with no ulterior motif.
A mother will leave home as early as eight and come back late without having to worry about her children. A market seller will leave her goods outside and the customer will buy the goods without her presence, leaving the cash behind. A farmer will leave his farm land at night to rest without thinking twice about his harvest. Houses hardly had doors and families were never worried about thieves. Children were allowed to play out so late because their parents knew they were safe and there was nothing like kidnapping. There was nothing like trust issues as everybody lived as one.
I respect the writer of the national anthem a lot. He took his time to take a deep look at the problems of Nigeria and came up with an anthem; words of encouragement, to stir people in the right direction. Back then, people sang the national anthem with so much seriousness, steadfastness, pride, diligence, determination, and confidence in their beloved country, Nigeria. These days only a few know the anthem and even the few don’t value it because they don’t know about the good old days.
Speaking of good old days, I enjoyed it while it lasted as I was born in the late nineties. I remember vividly how great our currency was. As a little child, if a visitor gave me five naira, I would jump up for joy because I knew what I could buy with ‘‘five naira.’’ There was hardly ever a time I didn’t get what I wanted, not because my parents had the money but because that time, things were very easy and some things were necessary. I remember my school fee was less than five thousand naira and I went to a private school. Schools back then had quality. Teachers were highly respected and so they delivered their best.
One thing that was of great importance back then was ‘‘time’’. There was always family time. I remember having reunions with my friends and family. It was so great because I always looked forward to reunions. Children in the village will gather under a tree to listen to their aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, grandmothers, grandfathers tell stories (folk tales) at night while children in the city never missed out on social events as schools made provisions for such like children’s day party, christmas party, independence day rally among others. People who had white collar jobs also had time for their children. My mother was an accountant. She would leave home very early, take care of us ‘the children’ (bathe us, prepare breakfast and get us ready for school) before she left for work, leaving us to my dad who will later take us to school and then, go to work. He will pick us up from school after the close of business, take us home, prepare food for us, assist us with our assignments, and put us to bed for siesta then face his own assignment. Men those days were never bothered if they had to take care of the children because it was an avenue to know their children.
Do you ever wonder why people in those days lived longer? Why sicknesses we never had before smile at us at our very own expense? Why the fruits of our labour turn their backs on us? Why the seeds we plant kill us before our own time? Why our so called leaders are the very problems we cry about? We basically do the same things they did but with a different motivation, attitude, motive, determination that produces the results we have today.
Oh great Nigeria, whatever happened to you? Why and when did you let bitterness, scorn, jealousy, hatred, rivalry, lies, malice, covetousness, tribalism, grow like seeds and yield fruits on your precious land? When did you create time for violence and fear to take over the places that humans live? When did greed and wickedness harden the hearts of humans towards their fellow mortal bodies?
Every day, the daily newspapers publish sad stories that I wonder what our country is turning into. It becomes more and more difficult to live in Nigeria as you hardly hear a story that makes butterflies fly in your stomach. We only hear of stories that make goose bumps grow on our skin and then we wonder why our own people leave everything they have in their mother land and move to a foreign land to raise a new generation. We wonder why the new generation don’t want anything to do with their root. Then we are forced to watch the things that our forefathers started, go down the drain and the labors of our past hero’s become worthless.
The least I can do is say the truth. I am scared! I am scared of what Nigeria is becoming. I am scared to live another day in fear. I am scared to stay in my comfort zone. I am scared to raise my fruits on a soil that is soiled! Thoughts of running away crosses my mind on a daily basis but I remember my roots, my forefathers, the hero’s of my motherland, the future I can only hope for as I raise my hands to the heavens and cry out to the leader with actual direction, to the original peacemaker, to the very present help in time of trouble as trouble looms;
‘‘O GOD OF CREATION
DIRECT OUR NOBLE COURSE
GUIDE OUR LEADERS RIGHT
HELP OUR YOUTH THE TRUTH TO KNOW
IN LOVE AND HONESTY TO GROW
AND LIVE IN JUST AND TRUTH
GREAT LOFTY HEIGHT ATTAIN
TO BUILD A NATION
WHERE PEACE AND JUSTICE SHALL REIGN.’’