Nigeria @ 47: Crawling to Manhood?

by Churchill Okonkwo

Chidimma my five year old niece is often asked, “How old are you?” Recently, when she is asked the question, she says her age and then asks, “And how old are you?” The reaction she receives is prettier funny, but is a fair question in her mind.

As we all prepare to celebrate another Independence anniversary, I know the first thing on our minds will be a series of questions; How old is Nigeria? What have we achieved in the last 47 years? What could we have done better? What is the cause of our problems?

But, just like my niece, the question on the mind of motherland – Nigeria – to all Nigerians is, “And how old are you?” What has been your contribution to nation building? Are you older than Nigeria but in your actions and in actions you behave like a five year old kid? Are you younger than Nigeria but older in heart, with beautiful ideas on what should be done to make Nigeria work but in a far away land to make any impact?

This is what motherland has to say to you at her 47th Birthday:

Because the future looks blurred

And the burden too big

Because the flowers once bright

Have all turned black

Because the soldiers are running back

Afraid of the battle

You turned and faced the wring direction

Soothing your anger

Shedding a few tears

Hushing out at your foolish life and future

You turned to ‘sidon look’ critique

Making sketches of black spots on the fractured country

With widening cracks

From the clear solitary high land of the middle belt

To the meandering rivers of the Niger Delta

You kept to yourselves

In the process you throw away your manhood


You throw ashes and tar

On the men on black

Camouflaging as flag bearers

The insult felt good

Someone cared at least –I thought

But you are still crawling

Crawling backwards

When will you start crawling to manhood?

Just like our body continued to change from imperfection (at birth) and since there can be no stability or rest in imperfection we learned how to sit, crawl, we learned how to stand and then we learned how to walk and run.

The Nigeria we have today can at best be said to be sitting. Being guarded on both sides by our resolve to preserve whatever we have than revert to military dictatorship. While we don’t have a democracy in this government, we are closer to democracy and further from dictatorship.

At 47, Nigeria is looking for anything out of the ordinary in her quest to manhood. Wherever you are or whatever you may be, Stop feeling wounded and confused, forget the old arena, consistently lodge appeal, asked for rights not privileges even when no one is listening.

The next step should be to crawl forward to manhood by entrenching democracy through free and fair election. This is the only catalyst to transformation from four limbs to two legs – dictator-quasi-democracy to true democracy. The second step should be standing on our feet by entrenching good governance, infrastructural development, accountability and curbing corruption and corrupt practices. The third, walking and running will be achieved by building a viable and sustainable economy.

When a cat stops and stares intently at a place that seems empty, it is certain that it is looking at a ghost or other creatures that passes unperceived by men. Hence, when a cat is present, no evil spirit will enter unobserved. It is for this reason that sorcerers employ cats as watchers against intruders from the other realm. 47 years on, we are still staring at Nigeria as if it is still empty, yet knowing fully well over 120 million inhabitants of this potentially great nation are like a mirage in the desert sun, here a moment, gone the next.

For us to crawl to manhood, Yar’Adua can and should employ cats to watch over the evil spirits of; anti-democratic elements, corruption, nepotism, none performance, square pegs in a round hole and all the intruders that will prevent us from, standing, walking and then running. Alternatively, we have to constitute ourselves as the sorcerers and cats if we are to move forward.

As a humorist, Will Cuppy once pointed out that “mother mice have babies all year round from four to thirteen. They don’t know when to stop.” At 47, Nigeria have had more than enough ugly babies that the time to stop is now.

If we stop now:

It will just a matter of time

For our stars to shine

For the troubled waters to be still

For the roads to be smooth

For the negative drift to stop

For us to smile


Only time will tell

When the battle will be over

When the enemies will be outpaced

Their territory overran

The table overturned

And victory ours

Until then,

Happy Birthday Nigeria

You may also like

Leave a Comment