I woke up this morning with a feeling of nostalgia. Musing on the subject – Nigeria at 60! I remember my childhood and the time this nation was so prosperous and the envy of many nations.
When in a whim one could jet off to New York for a weekend like its just in their backyard for just a meagre sum and visa was not a problem.
When all what we had for happy viewing was black and white tellies in a few homes. It was pure joy to play host to other children in the neighborhood who were content to just sit on the floor whilst others would just watch from the windows.
The outsides were safe and we could play all day long without fear of being kidnapped, stolen or nabbed for rituals nor parts harvested for some other enterprise!
Oh! How I long for those days when it was safe to sit in front of my father’s house waiting after school for my parents to come home in the evenings without fear of molestations.
I remember when the public taps were flowing and we could just from school go for a refreshing drink of pure water. No sachet water or funny looking bottled water.
Life was simple, the air truly free. Nigeria was in the midst of abundance.
Then it was ’77’ and Nigeria rather than give praise to God who transited her from the hands of her colonial masters through the civil war into prosperity of the oil boom, imported other gods from other nations; bowed down, and worshipped them to her shame!
Now with her creme de la creme exiled and scattered all over the world, she is like a widow in mourning.
Many nights have passed over you and you have endured the shame of the seasons of your desolations from neighbours who once suckled from the milk of your compassion.
You have watched, helpless, as many of your children are slaughtered before you like Rachel in Ramah. Deserted by your lovers, you weep, hoping that the mouths you once fed would come to your rescue but in truth they mock you .
Is there no Balm in Gilead? Is there no help for my beloved country? Is there no ray of hope for this beautiful and magnanimous woman?
Never have I seen a people so resilient, so generous, so humane! A people so full of love with every fibre of their being, wreaking of love and beauty even in their worst of seasons! Never mind the differing tribal tongues, terrains nor attires, these, make us who we are. Naija!
Nigeria, my lioness! Never seen a nation state so regal. In her worst season standing tall, in the night, eyes shiny like polished emerald.
Naija! A brand, a flow, a swag and a strong breed!
I am proud to be hewn from your loins. You may have been darkened by the hot sun of your seasons of wilderness, bloodied by meaningless wars and covered in dust by shame, but I see a new you emerging from the ashes and dusts of seasons past.
I see a healed green land flowing yet again with milk and honey. I see you, my Nigeria, looking expectantly up to your maker. I see an end to the night and a new beginning so bright!
Nigeria my Nigeria! I hail thee!
Proudly Green white Green – Mirabel Nwaokolo.
Happy 60th anniversary Nigeria and Long may you live!
Dele Giwa: Heroes Don’t Die, They Look On
In Nigeria, it is extremely difficult for the children of the common man to rise and shine. It takes hard work that is twice as much as the normal, and an extremely good talent to thrive.
This ladder of greatness and difficulties was climbed by Dele Giwa, son of a laundry man and he became one of the most loved heroes of journalism in Nigeria. Fate was cruel to Giwa, but it had excused him for some years to leave a mark indelible enough for Nigerians to remember him thirty-nine years after his demise.
The nature of the death of the former publisher and founder of Newswatch is one that will never be forgotten by Nigerians. In a period when the military went over the confines of human rights to dish out savagery, Giwa stood, critiqued and criticised when necessary without a tinge of fear. He made the Ibrahim Babangida government stand on its toes and that was what they hated him for. Oppressors hardly love to be questioned and this, Giwa did glowingly, when it was of utmost necessity.
Many stories have been told about his death and not a single one of them described him less than the excellent man he was. Even in death, his great works are still seen wide and far, sparking courage in the modern journalist and daring the younger generation to question oppression.
The truth is what many people, especially those in authority don’t like to hear but it is what always stands the valiant out. It is the forte of the best journalists in every generation and it is the hope of the common man. Giwa came from the common clan but wrote his name in gold, with his talent, penchant for the truth and love for his people.
He died at the young age of 39 but had done enough to live far longer than his presence – the rare reward of a hero; immortality. Not much has changed since Giwa left the surface of the earth, in fact, he will be rolling in his grave to see the current state of his darling country. Nigeria is far worse than Giwa left it and the legacy he built has not been really followed, most thankfully to a very media-stifling government.
Giwa’s biggest achievement was putting the government on its toes, and he showed precepts of how to become better citizens without selling one’s soul. His presence sparked courage for the populace and his death left many more with clenched fists, but struck by their powerlessness at the face of powerful, careless and disregarding leaders.
Today, some journalists have trailed Giwa’s path, revealing stories out of the needle’s eye and putting their careers, and sometimes lives on the line to tell the truth, reveal the details and spill the beans. Their courage, and hope, like Giwa’s is to see a better Nigeria, and they’ve shown a relentless poise to ensure this becomes a success.
More importantly, Nigerians have grown more courageous, are telling their own stories and are the investigative journalists themselves. A lot has changed since Giwa’s death, for worse, but the little that has changed for better leaves a mark of belief in the fact that, the son of a common man will someday change the course and cause of this great country, like the great Dele changed journalism and his country.
His stories are still much present and the narratives he painted in the past now strike Nigerians at every turn and in every corner. The Nigeria he so much desired is yet to be, but there may be light at the end of this long tunnel so Dele must watch on. Heroes don’t die, they look on.
NC Op-ed FARI ELYSIAN
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