issues

FOR WANT OF MY FUTURE MY CHILDHOOD WAS LOST: RECLAIMING MY CHILDHOOD(2)

Some persons would think that looking back to your childhood for guidance is a delusional attempt at escaping from confronting the challenges of today. Realism seems to suggest that we do a critical analysis of the present and hone our skills to meet the demands, thereby rightly fitting into the flow of things and a making a profit thereof. I had many friends in high school, having witnessed the era of the Pax-Computera, began chasing a dream of becoming computer gurus and migrating to locations where the sector was intense. Some made it and are enjoying the pleasures that come with runaway successes of the computer age, but many others remained totally frustrated at locations where the grind was slower. With the burst of the dot-com bubble came also the burst of many dreams stimulated by glossy success stories.

Years later, I was to witness how several friends, who landed the shores of the United States with a degree and sometimes a post-graduate qualification, would scramble to start a new profession in the medical field such as Nursing as well as in Accounting. Nurses and Accountants were the in-thing-professions and if you wanted to have security in life’s market, ‘prevailing wisdom’ spoke to a high consideration in this regard. The result is that society is replete with examples of the walking dead, alive to nothing but a sense of survival and a total coldness to the inner promptings and cries of a stifled childhood.

All around me are those living within the socially carved cocoon of convenience, while living without the essence of a true call. And what is worse is that the more complicated the world becomes due to advancement in knowledge and the apparatus to explore such, the more it becomes very difficult to wade through the demands of life. We are born into a season when it is the times that dictate what men must do and not men dictating what time must afford. So many of us are simply living for the moment because it feels like the seconds are whizzing past without our capacity to interject it. So we engage society on its own terms and not ours.
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NIGERIA AT 50: ARE THE “BEAUTIFUL ONES” YET BORN?

Photo by One Laptop per Child

One great advantage of personification is that it helps reduce an abstract entity to a relatively understandable concept. When we use the word “She” to refer to a country, it is because we can append certain human characteristics in assessing its existential issues. This traps complexities into units that the mere mind can comprehend and so pass due judgments. When we say Nigeria is 50 years old, it could be totally lost on us if we do not appropriately personify the country to understand the troubles it faces as well as the gravity of such. Perhaps if we can imagine for a moment a 50-year-old woman who has been severally raped, duped, blackmailed, and wasted, yet still lumbering on a dark road, then we may understand what the country has been through. How many persons of that age would suffer such dehumanization and yet remain composed and pretend to be fine? That is the best way to capture the past 50 years of Nigeria’s existence, or I should say recent history. And worse still is the fact that the woman is still undergoing an immoral bludgeoning by wayfarers and vile caretakers whose bellies and ambitions are their primary concern. So one wonders then for how long her pretense will last without an implosion.

Today however, an encouraging fact to know is that there is an awakening among Nigeria’s children. Silently, many voices are starting to cry out for change, while steadily there is growth in loyalty, like that of a young husband, within the precincts of her communities.  Also there is the rise of an army of technical competence within her young population (disputed by many); an army equipped with the overflows of a globalized world running fast on the cyber lanes. This is one comforting detail I look to when forecasting the trajectory of Nigeria’s growth and development in all sectors.

But I fear. I fear because there lies an apparent disconnect between the visions of these progressive ones and those who hold or seek hold power. A greater fear for me is that more of the “Beautiful Ones” are succumbing to the rot in the system and getting anesthetized by the need to be successful. Those who have stepped out to see the workings and possibilities of other societies have become frustrated and their frustrations are further marinated by the already existing tangible angst on the streets. It sometimes feels like we have lost the present generations to a calamitous decadence, to the point that even the unborn child harbours the seeds of national iniquity. Not only that, but it feels as though we received nothing good from the generation before and then lack the capacity to pass anything good to the generation ahead.
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WHO WILL TELL OUR UNTOLD STORIES?

After I watched one of Ishmael Beah‘s several lectures on his book, I was rightly inspired on the fact that no one will ever tell your story as good as you. With a carefully woven narrative and a well coloured setting to bring into our imaginations the trajectory of the Sierra Leonean war and its implication on children, Beah succeeds in holding any reader spell-bound for all moments spent juicing the book. After I read the book, I asked myself who could have told this story better than Beah himself? I read beyond the language and the imageries it used to communicate the story. I felt the emotions streaming from the lines betwixt the text, and literally walked the frightful paths of labyrinth-like forest of Sierra Leone‘s countryside along with the confused children. It can only be told by Beah and he did justice to his story.

This points me to the fact that Africans over the years have never really told their stories for what it is. We have often received attention because someone else told the story and defined the narrative way too early before we come to grips with the fact that we are not active in the conversation. This could be an extreme characterization of the issue, but perhaps I can only express it this way so we fully get my point. With Africa having experienced so much in the last 50 years, there is a lot to storyboard. We stand the risk of our unborn children having to read the stories we didn’t write just as we read the stories of “how we were discovered”. Oh! that I read from my father’s great grand father on how his people met with the Caucasoid foreigners that first stepped foot on our shores. Maybe my understanding of our history would have been different. Even though the sages have passed down wise words woven into our vernacular conversations, and I have been taught songs and moonlight stories that help my appreciation of where I come from, I am still bereft of a complete capture of the story of my origin. Is there something to do in provoking the dead to talk.

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