Solitude And Melancholy 1: God Give Us Men!

by Dele A. Sonubi

God, give us men!

GOD, give us men! A time like this demands

Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;

Men whom the lust of office does not kill;

Men whom the spoils of office can not buy;

Men who possess opinions and a will;

Men who have honor; men who will not lie;

Men who can stand before a demagogue

And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!

Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog

In public duty, and in private thinking;

For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,

Their large professions and their little deeds,

Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,

Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.

Josiah Gilbert Holland

On the first of October 2005, Nigeria celebrated 45 years of independence from the former colonial power- the British rule. It was a huge celebration. Everywhere, everyone’s mood was festive. Virgin Nigeria, in commemoration of the celebration, offered N45, 000 return flight ticket to London- (their reason for celebrations you can understand; Nigerians recently helped them to steal one of the Nigerian family inheritance: the Nigerian Airways). Vmobile, one of the useless and hardly functional mobile telecom firms in Nigeria which continuously reaps so much money from Nigeria, in the spirit of celebration, offered 45 free text messages to its subscribers. I remember text messages were flying into my mobile phone like minutes tickling on that day and after several consistent goodwill messages to my phone, I decided to take part in the fever and started sending congratulatory messages to friends. One of them wrote back and said the tragedy of Nigeria’s 45 years independence celebration was not in the riddle of the flamboyance of thoughts about the length of independence, but in the futility of my joining the praise singing songs of hurray! As far as he was concerned, a child of 45 years who has nothing to offer both his parents and offspring at such matured age, is a huge failure. “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” After so long of doing so much for one’s country, it is only fair and pertinent to ask what that country can do for her citizens in return.

In most recent times, there are so many family members and friends calling my private phones for financial assistance of some sort or the other. There are friends, relatives, even foes searching desperately for jobs because the situation is getting worse (and this is not rhetoric but true). Roads are getting worse, resources are becoming leaner, the nation is getting sick, morale is low, housing for all by the year 2000 is not applicable to folks of the low class, armed robbery is increasing, confidence in the police force is falling, capacity to prosecute public officials is dwindling and political promises are no longer bond. In short; “Nigeria jagajaga, everything scatter, scatter.” My friend’s refusal to celebrate woke me up to the harsh reality of the Nigerian mirage. I instantly went into solitude and melancholy. It was then that I responded; in the same vein as Josiah Gilbert Holland during his life (1818- 1881) and prayed to God almighty that God give us men; men who have honor, men who will not lie.

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Adewunmi Dedeke January 27, 2006 - 9:11 am

Dear dele,

In a lighter mood, please dont stay too long in this phase of melamcholy or else you may develop ulcer and serious headache. Your wife still need you around for some time more jare.

But with absolute seriousness i agree that we need men of integrity and character those that understand the concept of omoluwabi, we need visionary leaders not mediocres, untutored and uncultured men. The abikos and akogbas those that will rob us and rub salt on our injury.

I pray that our own generation will not be a wasted generation

As put by wole soyinka of his own generation.

Let us pray

Father on you we trust for direction out of this present darkness. Give us men after your own heart. Men that will not bow to the pressure of evil. Men that can not be bought either in cash or in kind. Men that will boldly say- do as i do. Men that are bold and righteous. Men that can own up to their fault. Men who will not turn the paraphnalia of office into an extension of their personal kingdom. Thank you lord as you fulfill this in our time amen.

Cheers dewunmi ddk

abdullahi garba December 21, 2005 - 6:01 am

I think god has already given us men, I mean with people like you in this country sky is Nigeria's limit.the only problem we had in this our blessed country is that is full of dubious and selfish leaders. although we can not blame mr. president alone, because he has been trying his possible best to restructure nigeria and nigerians through his anti-curruption crusade!by setting up EFCC and other coruption related agencies. but what happens with the oath he has taken before coming to the office, I mean the promises he made of bringing food to the table of nigerian populace by providing and creating job opportunities, road construction, electricity, portable water and agricultural machinery.

for those mentioned above and with people like you i can assure Nigerians that we will conqure and overcome the problem of this great country Nigeria, and by airing our view through writers like Mr. Dele Sonubi to the leaders of this country, by so doing we will achive trimendious successes which we might be colling ourselves with: you are the best, I'm the best and that is why we are the best. let us all continue striving for excellence

segun adesina SN 6857 December 12, 2005 - 10:29 am

Interesting Article to say the least, thought provoking too…..I share most of your sentiments, however, I'm not convinced that countries like Virgin have really come to steal Nigeria's inheritance; to paraphrase you…..The services those companies provide, like any in the private sector, respond to the laws of economics, (Supply and Demand). If there were other companies providing equal or better services at a cheaper price I'm sure people would take their business elsewhere.

I have been in the States for a while now so I might be missing an important link. So, I would argue with reservations that companies like Virgin are a welcome development for Nigeria's economy. I doubt that Nigeria Airways was doing such a good job before Virgin Came along.

Hopefully, someday, "DEESHO AIRWAYS" will bring a more competitive service to the market and the Nigerian consumer will be the ultimate winner. However, for now let's welcome the foreign companies… long as they're not arbitrarily spilling oil on our land or crashing planes without recourse. That's another show!

Again, Dele, BRAVO!!!

Niyi Bankole December 7, 2005 - 10:36 am

Dee Sho My Brother,

I read the God Give us Men article and it was quite a read. Bros if dem come carry you, me I no dey o! Anyway sha you wont be the first to be carried. You take am resemble somebody.

Reminds me of the days of Campos (Freedom) Square in Lagos towards the end of Shagari's regime (Before the End….) when Uncle Tai Solarin was warning all who would hear that the country was headed for the rocks but nobody listened. They continued wining and dining.

Do you remember the trips with Uncle Tai Solarin to Freedom Square in those days

Do you remember the day Uncle Tai wept at the Sunday Community gathering It was our first sunday back in school that year, 8 January 1984. He wept for our generation. For the hopelessness of it all. I guess the guy saw it all coming.

We were happy that the military had taken over, at least the man would rest but the man saw more struggle ahead. Exactly one week later he was back in the 'trenches' in Freedom Square. He was arrested by the military, 15 January 1984 (I believe) and I think he ended up in Gusau or Maiduguri Prison that time.

I remember that Sunday afternoon in Mayflower, the whole school was as silent as a graveyard. We had got the news even before the students who went with him to Lagos came back. We were shocked but we felt that "as usual', they would soon release him. It took almost sixteen months, remember

Do you remember Madam's speech at the Community gathering after that It was titled 'WHY' and she emphasised the difference between 'WAI' and 'WHY', the sheer crudity and injustice of it all

We were all rather impressionable young things back then, I guess, but I cannot forget these events even if I try. maybe I would write my own memoirs too like you did in 'The Grandfather's Mandate', t'would make nice reading wouldn't it.

My regards to Nike and let us know when you are in Lagos.


Niyi Bankole 4847

Anonymous December 6, 2005 - 7:30 am

An interesting and thought-provoking (if not sad) article.

God has given Nigeria the men it needs, but God is not going to appear and spare the people of Nigeria from getting their hands dirtied in order to sort out their country.

I wonder why so often there is the repeated failure of leadership in Nigeria to truly serve ordinary Nigerians Is it because those who are of "strong minds, great hearts true faith and ready hands" are afraid to peep above the parapet and do right by its people

Sadly, that appears to be the tragedy of Nigeria after 45 years of independence.

Anonymous December 1, 2005 - 5:45 pm

I think is high time Nigerians stopped asking God to give them men of honour, we are already honoured, we have enough honourable people in Nigeria to be leaders, i think what we should be asking is that the "cabal" would give the honourable men chance to lead.

Kunle Ogun December 1, 2005 - 1:04 pm

What a distinctive write up, keep it up boy. I've never doubted your ability for such articles even at such tender age back in the days of Mayflower School Ikenne.

Ehi Enakimio December 1, 2005 - 8:00 am

God give us Men Brother man wake up. There is a new breeze blowing across Africa now I hope. With women also needing to stake their claim to a long over due position in the main stream of everyday Africa as in Liberia for instance.The first female African Presisdent. That is a big deal. It was the title that got me started and ended my love for you..ok maybe not but please recognize.

Anonymous November 29, 2005 - 3:55 am

Well this is a nice one and keep it up. All the best in your new novel coming up and i pray that God will give you knowledge and understanding.

Anonymous November 28, 2005 - 4:54 am

Very nice and tot provocing. good read also


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