Nigeria turned fifty yesterday. Fifty years since Nigeria got her independence from the British. When I woke up, I chose my facebook status update carefully:
"I pledge to Nigeria my country..." Reminiscing as Nigeria clocks 50 today...I am proud of my heritage...
There is no need to lie, even on Nigeria's special day and especially since the next line of the pledge says "to be faithful, loyal and honest."
I saw a lot of different status updates yesterday. There were those like me who were celebrating the heritage like me. Others were celebrating regardless, it was just party time. Others were pointing out the things about Nigeria that have not moved forward or that have frankly speaking regressed and there was no lie in it.
One thing I have learnt in my fourth decade on planet earth is that I can control my perception of any situation. To the best of my ability, I have adopted a "half full" vs "half empty" approach. For me, it's also in line with faith as a Christian. I am not lying to myself, I just choose to focus on the good over the bad. That's especially so on birthdays.
Every country, person and situation has a good side to it if we look closely enough. The same way that your spouse, partner, friend, sibling, parent, boss, co-worker or employee is not perfect but you focus on the good in them so as to be able to continue to relate to them, you can think of Nigeria in those terms. While I cannot glorify the corruption, the senseless killings, the religious and tribal tension and the inequality, on that one day of Nigeria's golden jubilee, surely, I could try not to think of electricity and water just for that one day.
It is not because it does not affect me. When I visit it does. And even when I don't visit, it affects my family and friends and my ability to reach them, my peace of mind about their safety, my ability to have a good night's rest. I heard about the bombing in Abuja yesterday before my family in Nigeria. My parents had no electricity and did not feel up to putting on the generator having recently lost the guard who normally did it so they were not watching TV or surfing the net. They were alerted by a text from me. My brother who was local also had not heard about the unfortunate incident. These type of stories are typical.
But we will continue to press forward. Maybe, just maybe one day, we will truly be proud of Nigeria for so much more than our culture and heritage. Maybe democracy will finally prevail and justice will be served. I have a dream. A dream of the end of tribal and religious wars and a rich, thriving and flourishing Niger-Delta area. Not just for the oil company workers but the Niger-Delta people.