Love for Country and Other Drugs

Love 4 Country & Other Drugs

Because of Nigeria, I’ve been accused of false optimism, “How can you hope for change when we keep doing the same things?” I’ve also been accused of Elitist Patriotic Syndrome, a type of patriotism that conveniently lives abroad and so doesn’t wash its hands in the muddy river of change. But how do you bury love for country? Where are its roots that I may pluck it?

Looking ahead to Nigeria’s Independence Day, three writers and I wonder if hope can be reinvented.

Education is Training the Mind to Think

Desmond Tutu, in one of his stories said, “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.” I wonder why we prayed with both eyes closed. And who helped the white man steal the slaves that crouched in the belly of the whale on the way to the plantations in America? Tell me who? The white man has gone and Africans stagger, drunk from the rich red of millions that flowed in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.

I am glad the white man came to Nigeria and brought education with him1. One day, a friend visited a motherless baby’s home to inform the administrators that he was committed to educating two kids as far as they wanted to go. Starved of funds, they greeted the news with glee and asked him to pick the two kids. As he looked at the kids, his heart ached because choosing one meant rejecting another, but his pocket was simply not wide enough. The administrators chose for him, they chose their brightest two. Two plus two equals eight. Four plus four equals thirty-two.

I have dreamt of the past. Show me the future that I may live the present.

Education can teach us to read and write, appraise and solve, question and answer, and chew and spit. It is why I want to write prose with the eloquence of Chimamanda Adichie and the humanity of Chimeka Garricks, that another generation can read stories of hope and redemption, and pray with both eyes open.

The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant. – Maximilien Robespierre –

Timi Yeseibo @ Livelytwist

  1. “History rediscovered – Emeka Keazor at TEDxEuston” YouTube video, posted by “TEDx Talks,” on February 21, 2014. 


Humans of Nigeria

It was Christmas Eve, and we expected the roads to be free. We drove past Iyana Ipaja roundabout and entered one of those traffic jams that force you to turn off the AC, roll down the windows, and watch pedestrians cover distances you won’t in hours.

Suddenly the traffic began to melt as engines sprung to life. A tall man in combat trousers was swinging his arms and giving directions to relieved drivers. Sweat glued his muscles to his khaki t-shirt and outlined them. He had a broad smile on his face—an antithesis of Nigerian work culture.

On our roads, police officers pounce on naïve drivers who miss one-way road signs or waylay bus drivers for fifty Naira notes. The police are not alone. The prevailing mindset is that no matter how hard we try, we have nothing to gain from our jobs. We work without a sense of ownership, purpose, or dignity. Oga ta, oga o ta, owo alaaru o pe1. Na lie! Our work is a reflection of who we are, and the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

The exceptions are the Humans of Nigeria, like the soldier who volunteered as an impromptu traffic warden and the doctor whose diligence prevented a national Ebola tragedy. They worked with verve and took charge. Like pebbles thrown in water, the ripple effect transcended their original goals. The government may never give them national awards, but they are the reason Nigeria is not a complete hell.

IfeOluwa Nihinlola @

  1. Oga ta, oga o ta, owo alaaru o pe: (Yoruba) whether the boss makes profit or not, the labourer’s wage will be intact.


A History of Industry

After World War II devastated Japan, the island country underwent a rapid industrialization that surprised the world. The Japanese Miracle happened because strong leadership inspired a diligent citizenry, the threat of scant natural resources notwithstanding.

Did something else influence this phenomenal comeback?

I discovered that the world’s oldest company is a Japanese construction company founded over 1400 years ago. Japan rules the list of world’s oldest companies, a sustainable culture of industry perpetuated in the soul of a nation for centuries.

A careful consumption of Nigerian history reveals a similar culture of industry. Gigantic groundnut pyramids once drew tourists and business tycoons from all over the world to northern Nigeria. These pyramids were the brainchild of Alhassan Dantata who became West Africa’s richest man. Generations later, his great-grandchild is one of the richest black men on the planet.

Stretching further back in time, beginning from around 800 A.D., powerful rulers of Benin Kingdom in southern Nigeria, successively oversaw the construction of what became the world’s longest earthworks; city walls that reached an astonishing 16,000 kilometres.

Nigeria can bring about her own miracle if we unify the legacies of industry spawned by our various cultures under strong and visionary leadership at all levels.  Moreover, we cannot forget that unlike Japan, we have an unbelievable wealth of resources waiting anxiously for a call to service. Will you give the call?

Samuel Okopi @


The List

Four years ago, I moved back to Nigeria with many preconceptions that prevented me from being as happy as I could have been. I know now that I know nothing about Nigeria, but I also know that I know more than I did before and I will know more tomorrow. Everything I’ve learned is in this list, which I will patent as, Simple Rules for Visiting or Returning Nigerians, and Maybe Locals too.

1) No one wants to hear you complain

If you have a sob story after a month’s stay, how many sad stories do you think people who live here have? Twenty, fifty, uncountable?

2) You don’t have the magic solution

People who begin their sentences with, “You know what the problem with this country is . . . ,” make me roll my eyes. No I don’t know, eminent genius, tell me what the problem is!

3) You can’t be tired of this country

Nigeria has problems. You proved that by leaving. Don’t throw your hands up at every challenge you face. Remember when your mother embarrassed you in public and you thought, oh God, I need new parents? How did that work out for you?

Here like elsewhere in the world, your task is not complicated: be a decent person and be decent to other people, whether in molue or presidential motorcade. Good leaders come from caring people, and I now know I belong at the starting line.

If you find the list above disagreeable, you can opt for the Babalawo1 Price List (medicine man’s potions):

BUSINESSMAN  PACKAGE                              ₦60,000

Super Business boom

No double cross*

Success job contract

No more promise and fail

*Stops people from double-crossing you. Does not prevent you from double-crossing.


LANDLORD PACKAGE                                    ₦50,000

Command tone / Do as I say (tablet, grind into water or dissolve in mouth)

Win court case

Reveal enemy+

Silent Rich

+Only reveals enemy, does not destroy them. For complete, also buy Destroy enemy from A LA Carte menu. Can combine.


ROMANCE PACKAGE                                    ₦35,000

Love only me (potion)

Go all night

Easy to satisfy**

Avoid divorce***

**Do not combine with No more promise and fail.

List continues here

Tolu Talabi @

  1. Babalawo: (Yourba) an Ifa priest, who ascertains the future of his clients via divination. Loosely used to refer to native doctors.





©Timi Yeseibo 2014


Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

47 thoughts on “Love for Country and Other Drugs

  1. So many fascinating stories and perspectives about a place I confess I definitely don’t know a lot about except for what you see in the headlines, which I am certain don’t even scrape the surface of what’s really there. Thank you for this peak in. I am going to have to start reading books about Nigeria by authors that are from there.


    1. Hi Diahann, Nigeria should have taken her place in the league of nations and should be known for enviable things by now. Her people are generally full of life and industrious. Thanks for reading. I hope we haven’t left you with a mostly negative image 🙂


  2. Hi Timi. Out of the entire post, I really enjoyed, and could relate to your input the most.
    “And who helped the white man steal the slaves that crouched in the belly of the whale on the way to the plantations in America? Tell me who? The white man has gone and Africans stagger, drunk from the rich red of millions that flowed in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.”
    –This really was an unfortunate and sad state of events. It makes me think of the First Nations People of North America and how they have been treated and the consequences it brought. I have a talented First Nation’s friend that is a singer/composer. She wrote a very emotional and poignant song on the effects of children leaving the reserves for education, only returning to find their parents lost in the grips of alcoholism. Just thinking of it makes me cry.

    People who begin their sentences with, “You know what the problem with this country is . . . ,” make me roll my eyes. No I don’t know, eminent genius, tell me what the problem is!”
    –I love this. It seems like everyone has an opinion and oftentimes many think that theirs is right. This Sunday in Brazil will be the elections. I can not believe for the life of me why Brazilians would want to re-elect the same president after all that’s happened throughout the last four year. I’m dumbfounded by it. Corruption, apathy, throwing away money, etc. However, who’s to say that any of the other candidates are going to be any different. I’m sure there are good and bad that would come about by each.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that a portion of the post resonated with you. I’m saddened about what you shared concerning the First Nations People. Why did the parents get lost in the grip of alcoholism?

      I condemn Slave Trade, but I find that too often “our” complicity in the matter is left out of the narrative. Martin Luther King Jr said, “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.” In any case, I guess it’s time for us to take responsibility- we have dreamt of the past, we need to see the future and live.

      “It seems like everyone has an opinion and oftentimes many think that theirs is right.” 😀 It would seem as if Tolu Talabi is hinting at a more pragmatic approach to problem solving.

      “I can not believe for the life of me why Brazilians would want to re-elect the same president after all that’s happened throughout the last four year.” Is there more to this? Are elections just a formality to a foregone conclusion? Is the system rigged? I don’t know anything about Brazillian politics, but I empathize with you.

      Thanks Staci!


      1. Timi, it really is so, so, so sad what happened years ago in Canada, and US with the Native people. I can totally understand why there is such a large rate of alcoholism among them. I don’t know a lot of the history, but I do know that children were taken from their parents and put into residential boarding schools. The conditions were totally inhuman, and they were trained and taught to be like the white man and to serve the white man. From what I know (which isn’t much) the plans were for a cultural genocide. Even now just hearing my friends song again, and reading more on it I’m in tears.

        If interested you can read more here:

        “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.”
        –Oh wow, this is so true. I like your umph and gusto for seeing the future and taking it by the horns.

        There is a lot more to this, actually. The elections aren’t a formality to a foregone conclusion, but there is definitely a lot of media and ‘push’ for who is already in power. I don’t believe the system is rigged when it comes to the vote of a person itself. Voting is a completely democratic thing, and during the time of elections, there is constant media and obligatory political times on TV, as well as debates. The people are encouraged to get to know the candidates and what they stand for, so that they can make the best choice for the country. My husband has told me though that there have been denouncments of the research that goes on pre-elections as to percentages of who’s in the lead, second, thrird, etc., that this is rigged. This is because there are many people that don’t know who to vote for, or are undecided, and when these people see the statistics on TV, they will generally vote for the candidate in the lead.
        At any rate, a lot of the poor end up voting for who is currently in power because it was this particular party that brought in the ‘bolsa familia’, which is like a small help from the government for food (from what I know). There are also many other factors involved, but then my comment would become a book right. 🙂


        1. Staci, the song is haunting. Injustice on this planet abounds. Interesting quote from the article, “To be consciously anti-genocidal, one must be actively anti-imperialist and vice versa. To be in any way an apologist for colonialism is to be an active proponent of genocide.” – Ward Churchil. It’s also interesting to see that religion seemed to be the vehicle of choice for this type of oppression. Curt, in a comment below had mentioned the link between missionary zeal and imperialism. I only skimmed the article because it is quite long, but I’m glad it’s been written. I like to think that we should not deny the past, but we should look for tomorrow . . .

          Some of what you shared about Brazil reminds me of “stomach politics” in Nigeria. It only puts food on the table for a short while. Reminds me of the saying, Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. But who will teach him? Me? You? Them? Okay let’s not write a book 😉

          Thanks Staci for sharing your heart with me. We do what we can, we do what we can . . .

          Liked by 1 person

          1. “It’s also interesting to see that religion seemed to be the vehicle of choice for this type of oppression.”
            –As a Christian, I find this appalling. Totally the opposite of what God would have wanted. My friend who wrote this song is a First Nation’s Canadian and she is a Christian. They travel all over North America with a goal to visit 1000 native reserves and share the true heart of God, contextualized for their culture. I love that.

            “Stomach politics”
            –I’ve never heard that expression before. It’s so right on the ball.

            Hahahahaha. Love it. “Let’s not write a book.” Obviously the government hasn’t proven to have the integrity to teach.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Nigeria is that birthday present you wish were better but love nonetheless, and would gladly (and painfully) receive a thousand times more. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries; With proper education,common decency, great leadership and optimism, Nigeria can definitely ignite her own miracle. Thank you for sharing these beautiful pieces of hope!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tomi, your analogy captures the way I mostly feel. Nigerians seem to know what to do, but proper execution seems to be the problem. At this point in my life, I would have been more intolerant, until I remember, that sometimes I have the same struggle- knowing what to do, but failing to do so . . .

      @beautiful pieces of hope, you’re welcome!


  4. Great piece. Your quote from Desmond Tutu got me thinking. It’s so true! I agree with Ife that Nigerians have terrible work ethics. I once went to my Faculty Library to pick some materials for my project and the attendants said I had to wait till power was restored before they could get the materials for me. This was around 10 in the morning and I could see the shade of light in the project room. I knew they just were not ready to work! But very soon NASU will go on strike for salary increase and welfare package… The Humans of Nigeria. Tolu’s babalawo’s list got me laughing… Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your example resonates and can be frustrating. In general, government workers seem to have the worst work ethics. How do we institute change and a merit-based system practically? The babalawo pricelist has me in stitches as well. That Tolu, chai, he is clever, wrapping truth in humour 😉


      1. I believe the right work ethics starts with the right attitude plus a deep understanding of our purposes. If we begin to see work not as d curse but as a path to fulfillment our attitude would be different and if we all begin to do the things we were made and have been designed to do, there is less friction. Thanks Timi

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Benn, you are so kind with your words, thank you!

      @keep your eyes wide open for the best insight, I sure will. And that’s why it’s great to partner with other writers, each one throws in another perspective, so we enjoy a richer view!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Timi, great compilation thanks for sharing. It does make one pause and think especially with the Independence day 2 days away. We need to keep these sorts of conversations going….if we cannot play the game of politics or run for office, at least we can write….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tamkara, yes, we can write 🙂

      Sometimes the best ideas come from our conversations and debates and rolling stuff over and over in our minds. Yes, let’s keep talking, shaping convictions on our way to meaningful action.


  6. Would you say, Tami, that the job of the writer is to help people discover who they are or to help people create who they are?

    On another note: Imperialism and missionary zeal seemed to go hand in hand.



    1. @Imperialism and missionary zeal seemed to go hand in hand, yes it would seem, and much ado has been made about it . . .

      Now, to your question. I just finished replying a comment on my post, What Should I Write About, that to my mind, may shed some light. I’ll share bits here:

      The comment (in parts):
      “I’m sure you embed a side remark though, that may nearly verge on political in an innocuous blog topic.”

      “The act of writing in an expository style and thinking independently is personal political..if one’s objective is to inform, that already can become political when shoring up some personal experience as evidence.”

      My reply (in parts):
      “In one sense, to write is to persuade, and I have a strong voice (I try to remember to be responsible with it 😉 ).”

      “It is a dangerous thing to pour your heart on paper, you can be misunderstood not to talk of misquoted. But we do it anyway, in hopes that perhaps we can make others see even if not agree with our viewpoint.”

      To answer your question, I’m not sure whether it is the writers job, but when we write powerfully, we are doing both, whether we know it or not . . .

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Madonna Valentine, I surmise from a couple of posts on your blog that you are adapting to and liking Lagos? I like the hustle & bustle, the energy, the people, the industry, the street talk, but give me Lagos in ‘measured doses’! 😀

      Nigeria is a fascinating country and we the writers, are thrilled that you find the collection wonderful, that you get it . . . 🙂


      1. I have lived in Lagos for a few years. We have traveled a lot in Africa and other places. I completely related to the stories. Yes, Nigeria has a lot of problems but it worms its way into your heart and you cant help loving it. I studied Nigerian history at university, which helps with understanding the country. I am very pleased to have found your blog.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “. . . it worms its way into your heart and you cant help loving it.” Even though others may disagree, perhaps, especially those lacerated by the whips of injustice, I bask in your sentiments. Tonight, just for this moment, I choose tunnel vision.

          I’m glad you found my blog, I feel the same way about yours.


  7. I liked your “closing speech,” Timi! You gave profound and powerful reminders of why people need to believe, work on change, one foot in front of the other and stop complaining. I like the words that go like this, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” The author of this quotation is not on the tip of my fingers! Industry worked for Japan, after the disaster, hope that industry is working in Nigeria. Timi, this helped me to understand your country and you much better, still should try to learn more! Thanks!


    1. Lol@ “closing speech” 🙂

      Nigeria is a complex country, not unlike yours, with a citizenry with aspirations not unlike yours. Blessed with natural resources and a huge population, we are nonetheless under-performing. To watch Nigeria is to watch a tragicomedy, you laugh, you cry . . . you shout answers at the protagonists in between eating popcorn and sipping soda- they can’t hear you after all, they are on the giant screen! But, the script is still being written . . . in part 2, we should add that quote you mentioned, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” Thanks to Tolu Talabi aka Naija Rookie for his pragmatic approach.

      And thanks to you Robin for caring!


    2. reocochran: I want to believe it does work for us on some level. If that were not the case, our country would be a terrible terrible tragedy. But that word for industry we have coined as ‘hustle’ keeps hope alive, puts food on the table even when all the odds are in favour of having a dusty table staring at you in the place of a proper meal. Thanks for your comment!


    1. True Jenny! Love for country is as valid as say, romantic love. Much has been done and “undone” in the name of love for country. When you love someone/something, you want things to go right for them, you pray for the best, believe for the best, HOPE for the best . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hope can be reinvented if only we can do more to apeal to the human race to have a change of their subconscious mind set…..patriotism and love for onez country is a product of the mind as is change….judging otherwise is best insulting to logical reasoning.
    I beg to slightly disagree with the assertion that “The Japanese Miracle happened because strong leadership inspired a diligent citizenry”. Why I can’t say for sure what is meant by “strong leadership”, i can say for sure that decisive, and strong, patriotic fellowership inspired the good leadership. Hence, the decision is made on the poll by the fellowers who refused to sell their conscience for the electoral period. The reverse which will have in Nigeria.
    I can’t say how much I agree with Okopi…….nice analysis.
    “When the mssionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.” (Walter Rodney).


    1. Freeman, thanks for your tacit input on the quote. I like it when readers notice such things. It has been attributed to Ngugi wa Thiongo, Kenyatta, among others. I chose to go with Desmond Tutu, having read in Wikiquote that the saying is, “As quoted in Desmond Tutu: A Biography (2004) by Steven Gish, p. 101; this is a joke Tutu has used, but variants of it exist which are not original to him.”

      I guess I could have written: It has been said that …, leaving out any controversy, but where’s the fun in that? 😉


    2. Hi Freeman. Thanks for taking the time to give a passionate reply to my contribution.

      “Why I can’t say for sure what is meant by “strong leadership”, i can say for sure that decisive, and strong, patriotic fellowership inspired the good leadership.”

      The truth is, I used to have this opinion. I remember arguing passionately that the problem with Nigeria isn’t leadership but followership—bad and unfaithful followers to be precise. I even planned to proselytise my opinion with a fiery article. But over time, I saw what I believe to be the light: There can be no real progress without inspired leadership. Look at what Lee Kuan Yew did for Singapore. Examine the contributions of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum to the transformation of Dubai. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are important reference points to how strong and inspired leadership changed the destiny of America.

      “Hence, the decision is made on the poll by the fellowers who refused to sell their conscience for the electoral period.” I see where you are coming from with this, and true, this is one way forward to real progress.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Samuel…..why am push to agree with your opinion above with particular reference to the leaders you identified….. I beg to present a subtle version of my point as regards the led….in the country mention above… will agree with me that those achievements made would amount to illusion If the leaders where leading a group of hoodlums who vandalise electricity and other vandalisable social amenities provided for their own good, if the led are groups of hoodlums who stay by the road side to rub there fellow citizen from Peter to Paul all in the name of area boys while taking refuge in unemployment, if they where groups of thugs stealing ballot box to return a senator to the house for the fourth time when his previous seating saw to no impact in there lives.. I can go on and on even stating this attitudes of the led that has impede good and visionary leader from geo political zone to states in Nigeria…but that will be unfair to Timi……but the thing is….I can’t say of the mentality of the individuals in the nations identified above cos I have never been there…but I can say for sure that the attitude of the led in this country does not encourage good leadership….and am thinking…..we could harness this two approach to form a book on the state of Nigeria development (just thinking aloud)


        1. “but that will be unfair to Timi . . . ” 🙂 Thanks for thinking about me. I enjoy the dialogue. We broaden our knowledge as we consider the views of others, even when we disagree.

          I think that leaders and followers have a part to play. I also like to think that most people are AGIP (any government in power), watching for where the wind will blow. Those who blaze trails are few. Those who follow trail blazers are many. So, trail blazers do influence the direction that people take.

          Thank you for sharing your views Freeman. Life would be so much easier if we heed Tolu Talabi’s words, “Be a decent person and be decent to other people, whether in molue or presidential motorcade.”


          1. AGIP(any government in power)….Timi you really make me laugh but that’s the truth and that’s what is making us a step forward and three step backward. I agree with you that its a two way thing(the leaders 20% why the led 80%). When we all change our way of thinking… The journalist will refuse to dance to the house style if it doesn’t conform to objectivity and won’t entertain any fear of being replace since the other person will equally act as such…..many examples abound and this page alone can not contain my rambling on this….but I hope to publish a book to that effect in the future…maybe when I wear khaki…..(just thinking aloud)……..peace

            Liked by 1 person

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