Happy New Year ladies and gentlemen
Greetings and Salutations
First and foremost, I thank all my followers for their support over the past few months; I hope to continue the relationship into 2015. Secondly I must apologise from the bottom of my heart for being inconsistent with my posts over the past few weeks. I suffered a severe case of writer’s block, brought on by events, which I alluded to in the preceding post. I have made the decision not to elaborate on some the events for now- but I promise one day it will all make sense. It is with sadness that I have to report that my visit to Nigeria in December 2014 did not yield the results I was hoping for or expecting. It was financially and emotionally taxing but as they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
The trip wasn’t all bad though, I had a nice but uneventful Christmas. There are so many stories, which I wish I could have written (if you get the chance, ask me about my nightmare experience at the bank) but I will share two conversations, which gave me serious food for thought. While working in Port Harcourt, I had a rare evening off so I went with my colleagues to the local nightspot. After everybody had drank approximately two bottles of Guinness, Star and Gulder, conversations inevitably turned to the state of our great nation-Nigeria. Sadly, we were having the same conversations I used to listen to my parents have with their friends over 25 years ago; endemic corruption, poor leadership, inequality, substandard education etc. etc. etc. Each one of us imagined what Nigeria could be like with good leadership and unselfish leaders. Then somebody made a statement, which made me fear for the future of our country.
“If I get there, I go chop my own o”
I was expecting my fellow drinkers to rebuke the utterer of this statement but each one of agreed.
I listened with disbelief. What made the statement even graver was that it was made by a 21 year old? 22 years after my parents left Nigeria because of endemic corruption, poor leadership, inequality, substandard education; it was with sadness to hear these words from a representative of Nigeria’s future generation. This round of conversation unfortunately demonstrated the depths of apathy for corruption had embedded into the all aspects of society. My friends cursed the causes of their circumstance but if they had the opportunity to be a position of leadership, they would act in the very same way. Based on this, what hope do we have as a nation?
Some of the stories these guys shared with me about life in Nigeria would best be described as harrowing. They had lost all belief of a better a Nigeria and each one of them (10 of them) were actively searching for ways to leave the country. A couple of them said that if they ever got the opportunity to get out of the country, they would never return. I listened to them intently, and with all the humility I could muster I explained to them that in many ways I was jealous of them and in many ways, they were the envy of many of us in the diaspora. They looked baffled until I explained my reasoning. I shared my personal experiences and struggles with quest for belonging & identity in a foreign land. They all listened keenly as I explained that one cannot monetise the feeling of freedom and belonging. In one respect, we in the diaspora are in a “better position”, but they had access to the language, culture, traditions and heritage of our forefathers- a priceless position. I also shared some of the experiences of others, I enlightened them on the life as an illegal immigrant. “Although things are hard here, you are free; believe me, it’s better to live a life of hardship amongst your friends and family rather than watching your back all time in a land full of strangers”. They all listened in silence as I counselled them on some of the realities of life in diaspora. “There are people who have been in UK for 15, 20 years who have not been able to come home to bury the mothers and fathers because they don’t have papers”. I told them that I would not wish for them to experience the indignation of being treated differently because of their skin colour. “You can live in the UK for 100 years, you will never fully belong. I have been there for over 20 years but I am still asked where are you from originally”.
For at least fifteen minutes, I made them forget all the hardship they faced and enabled them to value the benefit of having access to their language, culture and heritage. As I watched the sun go down over the horizon, I had to face the reality that the effects of the stories I imparted that evening would only be temporary. I would have been naive to think that these gentlemen would remember my words when hunger seizes them and they would have to sell their mobile phones to buy food.
Do not despair, I saw one thing that cannot be vanquished in the hearts of all Nigerians- the hope of a better tomorrow. Despite all the hardships and the pain-hope still reigns strong.
Till next KKB Out