It's 55 years already. By God's Grace we are still an existing nation, fabulously flaunted in the face of the world. With you, its been like everything is to be feared, and in some sweet way, expected. Loving you has taught us that faith is everything in the face of challenges that seemingly have no solution. Being with you has given us the hope that possibilities are only a dream and an action away.
Today, we recall that inspite of the imperfections that humble us, we have a rich history. We have a great story that is similar and perhaps more interesting than those of seemingly greater nations. It was argued to my hearing once that we are richer without knowing because we measure our success against the parameters of civilisations external to ours. I have also caught myself thinking that because we are not so aware of our individual strengths as citizens, and the boundless possibilities that could stream from channeling our strenghts and abilities towards one version of one purpose, our sustainable development, we help each other delay us.
On Winnie Mandela's wedding to the late Nelson Mandela, her father adviced her accordingly. He said, 'If your man is a wizard, you must become witch!'. Nelson argued, in his book, Long Walk to Freedom, that it means that 'you must follow your man on whatever path he takes'. Our man, our president. Our man, our expectations as individuals. Our man, our dreams and visions as a people. Our man, our 'unity of purpose' like our president puts it.
The last thing I shall expect from the human race, or Nigeria, is an over night success. An overnight success has no story, and is often no success at all.
My naija, I love you in a way that commands my heart not to give up on the promise that the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain. I love you in a way that I can't help the certainty that we are unto something and somewhere more glorious than what we have seen or are now seeing, and where we have been and now are.
Nigeria is not just the two-colour flag, coat of arms or history books. Nigeria: the hardworking men and women who insist on being Nigerians, shamelessly, bravely and proudly, doing the right things even in the heat of seeming impossibilities and dire threats. Nigeria: the little children I saw yesterday wading firmly and powerfully through thigh deep flooded community roads hard as half-cooked oatmeal in Owerri. Nigeria: the lesbian mother who has to deny her liberation and wear all the caps to put food on her children's table. Nigeria: the handicapped dad who has to make shoes manually in the scorging Port Harcourt sun. Nigeria: the albino who has to squint in the sun and cope with the several people staring at him. Nigeria: the retired civil servants who spend their pension and lives funding and fueling the dreams of their children. Nigeria: the black man with a master's degree who sold his car to pay his way to scrub floors and sweep streets in the west because that's the most accessible version of success that has been preached to him. Nigeria: the school leaver in Italy who prostitutes involuntarily, lost every night, beside herself, because she can't find her way home. Nigeria: the secondary school girls who are yet to be found. Nigeria: the Nigerian graduates still insisting on making it, exceptionally, here or anywhere else in the world, in the best of styles and methods, in the best of things. Nigeria: the entrepreneurs, the artists, artistes, film makers, authors, scientists. Nigeria: the government.
Nigeria: our independent state. Happy Independence Day my Naija. It really only gets better. Days after today. Years, perhaps this one. Gradually, progressively, sustainably. Inshallah.