With all of its problems, all of its ethnic inter-tribal battles both literally and figuratively, all of its lazy and corrupt public servants, all of its kleptomaniac politicians, all of its withering schools and resultant uneducated university graduates, I still think that my Nigeria is the best place in the world.
In my numerous sojourns, my Sundry trips to African Nations in addition to my readings and re-readings of the socio-political lives of our brothers and sisters in the so-called developed nations, I have found none in which I will take greater pride than my Nigeria. Yes, pride, the possession and exhibition of self-esteem, a high conception of ones own excellence of mind and body, a belief in the high quality of one’s achievements and place in the community of men.
I am infused with pride that public institutions in Nigeria from the highest to the lowest are peopled and staffed by Nigerians unlike many Southern and Eastern African nations where the native owners are now serving the visitors who visited but never left.
I am proud that when I walk into a bank in Nigeria to apply for a loan, I am turned down yes, but not because of the color of my skin, but because I truly do not qualify for the loan. I do not go home wondering what the other race feels like. That is the cancer that kills the mind. Foolishly proud, yes, but proud anyway of my Nigeria.
I am proud that when the bank clerk asks me to wait one hour for no particular reason even though I have come to retrieve my own money, it is not because she is of a different race from me. I know that she does it only out of foolishness. It, therefore, does not kill my spirit. It leaves my pride intact.
I am convinced that the mis-education of my brothers and sisters who are not as fortunate as I have been, is not because the man at the school board or his decision-making superior (I hate that word) has a hidden agenda to mis-educate them. You see, both the school board man and his boss are my own brothers mis-educating my own brothers and sisters. It makes me cry in the dark sometimes, but it does not destroy my spirit when I consider what might have been if we were in certain nations or if certain people had invaded our politics and institutions.
I am proud that even the inter-ethnic fights are no more than that – inter-ethnic fights. No overtone of superiority goes with the machine-gunning and knifing and swording and macheting of my brothers and sisters. Yes, we die anyway, just like those in the other nations without pride. We, however, die body-first, as has been decreed by nature, and not spirit-first as decreed by racial suppression. Racial suppression makes cowards of men except the valiant. And “cowards,” Shakespeare wrote, “die many times before their death, but the valiant only once.” It is not death that concerns the proud man, it is the manner of death. Death with dignity is what he wants. And so I proudly expect to die but once.
I am proud that when I give bribes to obtain public service, which should be free, I am not giving it to anyone but my own stupid brothers and sisters. They don’t know any better. They are fools, but they are my own fools. They spend that money to patronize my old people at home, patronize my auto mechanic brother on the roadside, patronize our mothers who have convenient stores in the small towns, patronize our brothers driving their broken-down taxis and buses in the cities. I know I am foolish for taking pride in small favours, but I am happy that the bribe is not a tax that siphons money out of my community into the plush communities of the other race as they do in some Southern and Eastern African nations. And so, once again, I am proud.
I am proud that my people staff the hospitals here. Sure, many hospitals here have at their helms expatriates from India and other backward nations. Sure, the hospitals, arguably, have killed many people with their low standard of care, their chronic lack of diagnostic equipments, their perpetual lack of prescription medicine, and their pitifully unhygienic premises. But pride is found even among those living in squalors, pride is not synonymous with perfection or with opulence. And since death is a given, it is not the death itself that matters but the manner of death. It is not longevity that matters [sure longevity has its benefits, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr.] My pride lies in the fact that as my brothers and sisters die, as I myself die, they and I die body first, not mind first like some of our brethren in the other countries who were long dead before their bodily demise. And so I am proud.
Make no mistake, I do not condemn all our less fortunate brothers and sisters in the sick nations. There are many valiant warriors of our kind in many of these other nations. They are capable of speaking for themselves. They are capable of making a case for themselves. I do not speak for them. As a true advocate, however, my advocacy is for the only one I represent, Nigeria, my Nigeria. My proud Nigeria!
You, too, should be proud.
(Writer: WayoGuy, a pseudonym for an attorney in Washington, D.C.) Email: WayoGuy@aol.com