Fifty-three years ago, Nigeria became independent of British rule. Since then, OFN, Green Revolution, MAMSER, Better Life for Rural Women, SAP, WAI, SFEM, Deregulation, June 12th, Privatisation, and The Seven Point Agenda, among others, have come and gone. They made their mark in the sands of our collective consciousness and then disappeared into the bottom half of the national hourglass. But, we have remained like a palm tree, flexible in the wind.
Although we are lacerated by stereotypes, propagated from within and without, and although bloody sweat drips from our brows as we bake the national cake, we have always found ways to sustain hope, to restore hope, and to reinvent hope as we grease the wheels of the nation’s locomotive.
In my post, In the Beginning God Created Nigeria, I wrote:
It is true that the Nigerian landscape offers many reasons for sober contemplation, but within the dim picture, I found moments of patriotic pride, quiet amusement, and downright hilarity. Glimpses of our heydays managed to peek through ominous clouds, an indication that lost causes can be found
I found a lost cause. I found hope one grey morning when rain fell at a steady pace.
A man struggled to open his umbrella as he stepped out of his car. Holding the yeye umbrella that refused to fully unfold above his head, he hurried into a building. Ten minutes later, he braved the rain with his spoilt umbrella and rushed to his car. Once inside, he flung the black umbrella in the middle of the road. It tumbled, unfolded properly, and gaped at the sky. He drove off, leaving a water receptacle and a trap waiting to bite other motorists.
Soon after, another man walked by. He looked left then right, and then left again before running to the middle of the road to snatch the umbrella. He closed it and set it neatly on the pavement.
Curious, I invited him into our office for a chat.
“Why did you pick up the umbrella?”
“Because it can cause accident.”
I didn’t need to ask because his shoes, shaved at the heels and curling to heaven in front, revealed the answer. But I asked anyway, “Is your car parked around here?
He laughed. We both laughed.
“I nor get car.”
We both laughed again.
“Then why did you….”
He shrugged his shoulders, “It can cause accident. Some drivers will not see on time.”
“Wow. Not many people will do what you did….”
He shrugged his shoulders again, “Make I begin go.”
“Hold on. Let me find something for you. We need more people like you in this country.”
“For what? Wetin I do? Please keep your money.”
“I just want to give you something to show appreciation. If more people were like you, this country will change.”
“No need. Make I begin go.”
When he stepped outside, he gauged the drizzle with the back of his palm, shut his umbrella, and kept walking.
Little hinges swing huge doors. Change will elude us as long as we only point fingers. When I look for a dustbin to dispose of the empty Mr Biggs take-away pack instead of dumping it on the road, change will come. When I wait in traffic instead of turning the pavement to a fast lane, change will come.
Light a candle of hope with me. Share your encounter with a Nigerian whether in Washington or Aba or Ogbomosho or Manchester, which defied the stereotype that we have come to know. Surely, for Nigeria, the future is still pregnant.
© Timi Yeseibo 2013
Photo credit: Zuorio / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Title: Nigeria – Elekoe Beach
Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zuorio/282076831/
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