I am not one of the octogenarians who have only rosy memories of #MyCountry. I am one one of those you could call ‘the new school’. But then again, that will be a point of argument, as a lot of my contemporaries would vehemently argue that we are old school.
Well…that point of contest becomes relative at this juncture.
You see, I grew up in rural Nigeria, with a matriarch I would forever remain grateful to. A Moslem by marriage who insisted I go to church every Sunday and keep the day free from work just because my parents were both Christians. She ensured I observed all Christian tenets (the ones she knew. As I knew nothing about my faith myself at that age).
But it was her relationships with her Moslem sisters and brothers, the Christians and the traditional worshippers that made me believe she is in heaven as I write (if one exists).
But this is not about her. She was used to bless me and I appreciate. Her cerebration is not today.
The ambience was that of trust and neighborliness as I grew up. A woman would walk into our house, will exchange greetings with my matriarch ( my Grand mum) and request for drinking water. No introductions. Mum would offer food and she would eat. Then the settings for introduction would have been established. Most times, they find out they have mutual friends and may be relations. That was the Nigeria I knew while growing up.
Not few times did I see her cry from bad news involving people both of us didn’t know. Curiosity always led me to ask why she cried (and I always cried with her. Call it sympathy cry. Warreva!).
She would try to painfully ensure that I understood why she cried. She would say she cried for the sheer inhumanity of the story. The pain those involved must have gone through.
She always related it to my mum (apparently she knew I was a putty for my mum). And that always drove home her point.
The Nigeria I knew did not need for you to be same religion or region. I still remember how privileged I am to have celebrated both Islam and Christianity holidays and festivities as a child. Best of both worlds you would say. I got to distribute the Sallah meats &!food and got my ‘tukwuchi’ in return ( not sure I wrote that correctly but my Moslem friends will decode).
The community support system was exceptional. When a woman loses her husband, the out pour of help and assistance was out of this world. People would fall over each other to render one help or the other ( no sentiments attached). That I grew up to assume was African culture.
I grieve that my kids would never experience this. They are locked up in my little rented accommodation for most of the 24 hrs of a day. For fear of all sorts. This defines my urban experience too. Now I am fearful of crowded places too (thanks to BH and Frank Mbah’s recent advice).
My kids hardly know the names of their mates in the same compound. We knew our mates to the next 4 villages. We had games that were indefinite in timing, that cut across villages and the class of our parents (even though some parents who felt well to do were still shielding their wards from us. Lol. Rascal me!)
Enough of my reminiscing. Boring I’m sure. All of us had it. Then was the days.
So when when did we lose it? When did our parents lose it?
At what point did the sound of another’s cry become like Tuface’s song to us?
How did we get to this ‘junction’ where we could look at about 200 dead brothers and sisters and walk through, meandering though the ‘rubbish’, then move on to our work places, only to post the pictures and comments on social media, wait for 4 days, get distracted by another event, then move on. When last did we shed tears for the sheer brutality visited on humanity in our clime?
How did empathy leave us? Through which route? The last time in checked, we were still Nigerians and humans. Same genes, same emotions. How can anyone pin this on the economy and the resolute need to survive daily?
How much can the external psychostressors affect the internalized personalities of our selves?
The perennial Social amnesia worries any sane member of our community (for we are a community. No matter how much ‘stratalisation’ we employ). The Class or Group Social Amnesia on display is nauseating to say the least.
NGOs have sprung up to fill this gap, but like everything, we bungle it. We go for benefits not results, and thus I have little faith in them.
My point (as convoluted as it is to pass across) is that we need to change. A change that is easy, since it is a revert to old self. We need to care more. May be, just may be, that will elicit a more proactive reaction to what befalls us at this trying times. If I could see Abdulrahman as a person, a Nigerian and a distant brother or cousin, and feel his pain, I would be more reactive and pained about his death and unfair treatment prior to his death. Knowing and being confident that if I let go of the God given virtue (nay! Right! To defend his treatment. Even after his death), I would be faced with same issue when it comes to Ronke or Ifeoma’s death.
Questions must be asked of anybody who decides (by himself) to lead (substitute rule) us. They must not get tired of being criticized. They should see it as a barometer for our displeasure in their leadership and thus galvanize them to a remedy course.
My last line I would borrow from a man who stopped his education at his high school level, yet had deep words left for us. Peter MacIntosh was a Jamaican Raggae artist. One of the foundation members of ‘The Wailers’. Arguably the most educated amongst them.
He said in his “African’ track : ” No mind your denomination, there is no segregation, as long you’re a black man, you are an African; Don’t mind your nationality, as long as you’re a black man; you’re an African”.
It is so easy to fix this world. Why do we make it complicated?
It is so easy to fix #MyCountry, why do we make it so difficult?
#StayTrue to #MyCountry