Shall We Rekindle The Flame?

by Ayodele Alofe

As an African in the Diaspora, I get questioned a lot about when if ever I intend to return home. My answer in my first year abroad was just as soon as I completed my Masters and maybe worked for a year. That answer has since become a big question mark.

Some months ago I had a conversation with some family members where I was accused of not liking Nigeria and I vehemently defended myself. If I am to have that conversation now, perhaps my defense of myself might not be so strong.

I have become accustomed to a way of life and to things ‘working’ that what was once a fiercely burning fire to develop and improve my country has become ebbing coals. Isn’t this true of many of us? It may even be the reason why often, our elected officials hardly do anything when they assume power. The fact is, it is harder to empathize or feel something as strongly when you are physically removed from it.

By no means is this a justification of our leaders, indeed they have failed and continue to fail us on several levels. Anyone who has ever been hungry for a considerable length of time would know that at that time, you remember those who have nothing to eat on a daily basis, images of hunger stricken children who could die of starvation may even flash in your head; but the moment you have eaten to your belly’s satisfaction those images and other such fade away from your memory. This is what I believe happens to our leaders. They know that there are many plagues to get rid of they just are no longer that much afflicted and so things slide.

Having said that, most of us grew up with the desire to make Nigeria a better place; some like me, even took up community development projects during the service year which earned them the State’s recognition and award. So many of us (home and abroad) love Nigeria and desire to see her fulfill her potential or at least provide her people with the basic human needs: electricity, water, good roads and education.

Hardly can one attend a gathering of more than 2 Nigerians without the topic of our Nation being broached. One then wonders that with the amount of conversations, the fact that we are all agreed that there is a lot to be done, why is it not being done?

We have had it said that ‘your today is a reflection of your yesterday’ hence our today is also a reflection of our tomorrow. Does it then mean that the generations before us inflicted us with this expert ability to theorize but not practicalize. When will the veil separating these be torn? Or shall we breed a generation that would be afraid to even broach theory?

Most developed nations had citizens who lost their lives along the way for what they believed in. Many lives are already being lost in our Nation to crime and other evil perpetrations. Playing the ‘we were colonized’ cards would no longer wash either. Were we the only ones? How come some of the other colonies have advanced more than us in spite of our Nation being one of the most richly endowed country with natural resources in the World. Besides, whilst still on colonization, it has been 48 years since we became independent and that’s 2 years more than the years we were colonized so there really is no excuse.

I want to believe that change is in the works in Nigeria. But is it? Not unless we all get back to being passionate and determined to make good our childhood desires of making Nigeria better. It is all in our hands every single one of us and there is no escaping from it.

Let us make it our priority to rekindle the flame. If we all put in our best then we will be able to say like Abraham Lincoln ‘ I do the very best I can, the very best I know how, if the end brings me out right then good, if not, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.

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mayor August 18, 2010 - 7:23 am

while i appreciate the author’s viewpoint, i’d hardly agree with the defeatist approach to the Nigerian question. there is a light at the end of the tunnel and only those IN the tunnel will see it. ever visited towns like Calabar, Eket, Benin e.t.c where there is a gradual recreation of order? Nigeria will someday achieve its potential…my guess is you’ll be too withdrawn to see it

Dynmma March 15, 2009 - 1:57 am

Well written piece.

I really wish I could say that I still had hope for Nigeria but I would be lying if I said that.When hope is continually dashed,it loses its strength and I think that is what happened in my case.Maybe one day,that hope will spring forth again but until then I’m just indifferent when it comes to Nigeria and its affairs.Nevertheless,I love Nigeria and it is still home no matter how long I sojourn in the diaspora.

Olu Adeyemo March 14, 2009 - 2:46 am

As a Nigerian residing in the UK I found your article compelling and sad, and this struck home further as the UK are currently having various programmes to raise money for Africa under the guise of Red Nose Day. Quite a few African countries were visited and the degree of suffreing and deprivation is what we all know exists in our beloved Nigeria. What surprises and hurts me however is the fact that it’s Caucasians that are coming to our aid. What are we doing? We have doctors, nurses, and any other professional you can think of both in the diaspora and at home yet we still rely on the West. I pray forward-thinking and like-minded Nigerians can eventually get together to make a difference.

Ativie March 13, 2009 - 7:38 pm

Good article. As a Nigerian born in the UK but having tasted Nigeria in my teens and attended university there. It pains me to see how the country has degenerated and how Nigerians are willing to accept it. Change would require a roots and branch revolution, something I don’t see happening soon. I think the train was missed when Idiagbon and Buhari were kicked out. At least we learnt how to queue and post was being delivered. We’ll never get to that state of play again. As such the brain drain will continue and Nigeria will continue along its happy road to failed state status.

I was embarrassed to hear our present leader say how happy he was to be in Downing Street and the White House – check him out on You Tube. Nigeria now gets aid to fight malaria, provide water and train its army from the UK. Why are we putting up with this? Why are we willing to be ruled by rulers who have no strategic plan? How can Nigeria, well the south at least, that sits on water have no running water. How can a country that produces gas and oil have no electricity or refineries to produce its own petroleum products. Why are Nigerians putting up with this?

Kiki March 11, 2009 - 12:59 pm

It is a well written piece. Nigeria is in our hands whether we live at home or abroad and we are the only ones that can make it work. Quite frankly I am not sure we are ready to make it work because it will come with pains and sacrifices which a lot of us are not ready to make. But we’ll see.

Reply March 10, 2009 - 9:58 pm

This is a welll written piece. It reminds me of Ben Okri’s words where he says, it is the moral onus of all writers to question the realities in which we find ourselves. Your well crafted article poses a lot of questions. Once again I have been reminded about the harsh realities of life in Nigeria and how things never seem to work there. In view of this I ask myself, like you once did after studying in Europe, whether or not to return home. Personally I don’t think it is a tough question. At the end of my MSc here, I know for sure that I going to stay back for a long long time. It may sound terrible but I can no longer help worrying and trying hard to help change people’s thoughts about our beoved country through my writing- ala Ben Okri. I can only hope that one day, somehow, Nigeria will become a better place.

Reply March 10, 2009 - 1:14 am

Iyaafin Ayodele Alofe,

It’s a pleasure and honour to have you on nigeriansinamerica. Without any exaggeration, your debut article is very timely. Indeed, you have done an excellent job with your article. However, while we criticize constructively, we should think about implimenting projects that could bring some positive changes into the lives of our long suffering citizens. Our ‘collective’ modest efforts could go a long way in changing things for the better. We can not just fold our hands and allow those opportunits to destroy the country beyond repair.

I also want to use this opportunity to recommend my articles – available on this site too – for reading. We need to rub minds and exchange opinions. All the best in all your endeavours.

Ayodele March 8, 2009 - 12:48 pm

This comment made me wonder how much of the article was read or understood especially as the last 6 words of the comment almost surmises the article. I also think this comment highlights another Nigerian problem but I digress. I think it will be suprising to find out how many of the names listed can actually be traced but that is besides the point. I can only reiterate that we all have to continually fan the flame for our country Nigeria and do our best to create the Nigeria we desire.

Miz B March 8, 2009 - 1:47 am

Love nigeria or not, it is still your country. No matter how long the lion cub decides to play with the goat and its kids does not stop it from being a lion. One day he will look at his reflection in water and see who he is and know who he is. you can ‘play’ with Black Americans, jamaicans and other blacks in diaspora but you are an African. A ‘son of the soil’, a child from the source. Just by looking at your surname, your family name can be traced. can Shanequa Carver be traced? Or Zaquisha Stone? Omo Oduduwa, your country is the way it is because people have made it so. america is the way it is because people made it so too! What is the difference between Queens Drive and the waterfront at Isale Eko? Are the both not in front of the lagoon? It is only we that can make our country better. To expect others to do so then to come and enjoy is selfish. We are the change we seek.


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