It is October 1st. You know what that means. If you don’t, I will explain what today is and then you can pretend like you’ve always known why today is special. Basically, today is Nigeria’s Independence Day. Now that you know, you can belong. Anyways, yay! First of all, I would like to thank our colonial masters, the British, for freeing us on such a cool date. October 1. It’s the first day of the month as well as the Independence day. So with the new month you can celebrate the ‘new’ year as well. That’s brilliant! Imagine if we had some random day like July 4th. Tufiakwa. Anyways, it’s Independence Day. Let’s all celebrate with an endless amount of jollof rice (fried rice for some of you that are ‘special’), assorted meat pepper soup (the type that burns your tongue in a nice way) and cold sweet chapman that the host is way too proud of because that’s the only part of the menu she actually made. Celebration is good. Everyone prefers to be merry. But some of us (I belong in this unfortunate group) can’t really be merry right now. There are reasons why. One, I type this while at my desk in a college dorm room in a country that is far away from my warm home in Nigeria. The painted flag on my cheek has invited strange looks and I had to explain the meaning of Shoki as I tried to jam just before class. My trad is too thin to win this battle with the wind. So I’m not in the celebratory mood. Another reason I am not in some jolly mood is because I think a lot about the realities of Nigeria’s situation. My people, it’s not pretty. It’s not ugly either, but boy, it’s not pretty.
Today should be a day of reflection as well as celebration. After 55 years, where are we as a nation-state? Everyone can spout all the problems we have in Nigeria. Even the kids in nursery school will sing it as if it’s a nursery rhyme. But how many people have plans for Nigeria? How many have ideas for what we can actually change? For my favorite group of people, the “Africa Is Rising”-ers, through what is Nigeria going to rise? Oil? Agriculture? Does anyone know? These are things that people should be thinking about. Right now, as youth, just think about these things. No one is expecting you to know for sure. However. these are things that the people in charge of our country should have answers to because what else is supposed to inform their policies? I was told this summer (by a working adult no less) that if Nigeria could recuperate the stolen funds, we would be an immediate world power. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So many people do not know the realities of the world we live in. My dream for Nigeria is for the standard of living to increase. Let things work in my country. I’m not asking for much. Recently, I learnt a fascinating concept in my politics class called ‘zero-sum relationships’. It basically means if one person wins, everyone else loses. Now I’m thinking about Nigeria. For us to reach where we want to be, some other states have to lose. And which of them is going to let us? We are economically and politically dependent on many other states and bodies. Look at how OPEC has us in a choke-hold regarding oil production. Are we benefiting in any way? Our trade with China has risen to $23.5 billion. How is that affecting the average Nigerian? On this Independence day, it is important to know we are victims of neo-colonialism. Not to sound like a Marxist, but I don’t know if we can ever be free in this capitalist world. I promise I’m not a pessimist, it’s just that this side of the coin isn’t flipped to too many times. We need to hear the truth. Or maybe I just need some jollof rice in my system. Regardless, let’s be aware. As they like to say on black American Twitter, let’s stay woke.
Happy Independence Day everyone.
(I have to start putting all these kind of sturvs before somebody comes to sue me. And my Mummy always said that if you want to do something, do it right. So it must be MLA [Shout out to Writing and Rhetoric, Ms. Wilson and Ms. D])
Okafor, Chineme. “Articles.” Nigeria-China Trade Volume Rises to $23.5bn,. ThisDay, 02 June 2015. Web. 01 Oct. 2015.