Sixty-three years of ‘nationhood’? And what is there to celebrate? The Nigerian! I am not celebrating 63 years of anything, but I choose to celebrate the Nigerian. This offspring of a marriage of convenience, conceived on the bed of a business arrangement that sought first of all the economic interests of some foreign conqueror empire: he is the one that gets my attention today. I salute the Nigerian: abused and oppressed from birth; repeatedly robbed and defrauded by oath-defying surrogate leadership apparently committed to weaving an odious norm-fabric of mindless self-enrichment. Enterprising, courageous, optimistic and resilient to a degree that ironically emboldens reckless misrule and impunity in deviants, he’s a hard survivor, a daring achiever! Though he’s still unable to apply his pluses to this daunting enigma of statehood, I salute his ability to improvise and to adapt. For his undimmed hope in a brighter future, even in the face of obviously clueless or evidently misdirected leadership mouthing promises they seem neither able nor determined to deliver, I doff my hat. I do not praise him for being so tolerant of corruption, of tyranny and of collusive misrule, but I salute his doggedness, his ability to bear up under heavier strains than have shredded other peoples and geographical entities.
I love the Nigerian! You know him, don’t you? He is friendly, sociable, hospitable, accommodating, and resistant as ever to such alien demonization as delights in slaughter and arson. No, he’s not at his neighbor’s throat, nor is he some half-masked or turbaned warrior of an ill-defined cause seeking the next head to lop off or another church building to bomb! He still greets and smiles at the stranger, reaches out by trying out a foreign word where language poses a barrier. He freely volunteers directions to a lost wayfarer, and he still stops to help settle a street quarrel. From school campuses to NYSC orientation camps to city centers to places of worship, the aggregations and plethora of mingling identities you find so define him: he’s the Nigerian, reveling and thriving in the diversity of his community! Look again, and see him anew, and the designs of a few children of Satan (and every nation has them) to redefine him fail miserably. Don’t you love what you see? I love what is here! And, no, Britain did not create him; God did!
I love and salute the Nigerian! Loud talking, loud laughing, loud living, he’s everywhere on the globe. Someone said if you find yourself in any open town or village anywhere in the world and cannot find a Nigerian there, run away fast. I agree. If any place is habitable, a Nigerian would settle there, and he would thrive! Out there away from home, some hate him, some love him, many fear him, but I doubt that any could be indifferent to the Nigerian! And shouldn’t everyone respect him? Such enterprise, propelled by a dogged spirit of hope, seems unique to him.
And the Nigerian does not just hope; he prays! And he praises and he worships with such energy and vibe as you can only truly associate with him. Who can ignore him? Not God! Perhaps that is why the Nigerian is such a visible front-runner in God’s end-time formations! Look even to ‘far away’ Europe and America; the religious fire of the Nigerian is stoking the near-dead embers of the nations’ spirituality.
I am proud to be a Nigerian. Just why not?
I am Joe Ifah.
(Originally published October 1, 2013)