We Shall Overcome… Someday!

by Patrick Okigbo

We shall overcome…someday!!!
We shall overcome (x3)
Deep in our hearts
We do believe
We shall overcome

As the world reflects on the life and legacies of Dr. King, one cannot help but ask, King?

Theaters are now open to people of all colors, but there seems to be so much more left to be desired. Isn’t it ironical that in the shadow of the Martin Luther King Day, discussions are reaching a crescendo as to when the attacks on Iraq would begin? The violence in the Middle East is unabated, conflict between Russia and Chechnya is brewing over, and the Al Queda leadership still remains a clear and present danger.

The situation is not much different on the home front. The guns are sleeping uneasy in Kaduna and other volatile cities in the North. Isioma Daniels may never return to her beloved country. The Vultures are still feasting in the Niger Delta. Bomb blasts have crept into our national reality. We are under siege from their sons who have turned to armed robbery because of a multitude of social and economic maladies. And everyday we ask ourselves whether there is an answer to this milieu of issues. I say to you today, YES!

Yes! Like the architects of the civil rights movement in America, and our founding fathers at independence, and Nigerian pro-democracy activists in the 90’s, we have to look into that black hole of despair and seek strength to say YES, searching within ourselves for the answer that lies within. I must agree that most times it looks desperately bleak, but I also know that after the rain comes the shine.

I have my ideas on what the solution should be with the crisis in the North. I also have my views on what should be done about the spate of armed robbery or the hijack of power by one particular social class but I would leave those discussions for another day. Today, I choose to challenge us all to dig deep within our souls for an answer. And by Jove, I can swear that the answers lie within us all. If only we choose to apply ourselves.

We have a role to play when issues of religion and ethnicity are being discussed. We have to help ourselves and our friends rise above the stereotypes and perceptions that hold our nation hostage. We have to realize that we are all one and that we all seek the same thing: to love and to be loved. This remains true irrespective of ethnicity or religious persuasion. We have to learn to rise above our prejudices and treat people the way we would love to be treated. This is the balm that would sooth the pains of the many years of injustice.

We, as Nigerians in America, have a role to play in these difficult times. We, like it says in the old Negro spiritual, have to believe that we shall overcome, albeit, someday. It might look very bleak from where we stand today but like Dr. King, we have to ascend to the mountaintops and look out in the horizon and seek out our glimmer of hope.

I have been to the mountaintops. I have seen my hope. And I have refused to let go. Do not let go of your hope of a better tomorrow. Do not become a casualty. Do not become despondent. When the naysayers proclaim that Nigeria’s problems defy all known solutions, shut them out and chant to yourself, “We shall overcome!”

Hold on to that hope like the proverbial last straw to the drowning man. And I say to you, today, my siblings, that the spirit of history is with us. And if we can hang onto this hope, and contribute our own quota, no matter how little, we shall overcome…someday!

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