By A.F. Sesay
One of the few positives to elections in West Africa and beyond is the spotlight it sheds on the importance of trust. But why do people misuse trust and abuse the faith of countrymen and their countries? This is our one million dollars question! Why do the realization of power, fame and other forms of success usually trick people into following the road to the abyss? Are we frightened by the prospects of being lonely if we chose to be powerful but not arrogant? Or are we scared of being famous and yet accessible to the poor, or being politicians yet fulfilling the trusts reposed on us?
Ok! I see! Then don’t be lonely. Follow the crowd and goons around you. Allow then to strip you of your garment of conscience and revel in the freedom of being naked (and vulnerable). But don’t tell anybody I am the one that gave you this advice, but equally don’t blame anybody for whatever the consequences are.
Besides the bile and negativity and entitlement, have you ever had a deep conversation with your mother? My mother, I mean Nigeria. You hurl insults at her every day and rub salt into her wounds. You blame her for the absence of salt, pepper and toothpick, despite all she endowed you with. And for the most part of it, she is too meek to speak back. Maybe all she could say is: Don’t Insult Me.
What does she mean? What has made her so bold all of a sudden? Is this a terse statement of her advice or an insult to her children? What then would be the benefit to derive from her words (if any)? To fully interpret this three-word advice or caution from the old woman, we may require the assistance of a Professor of Psychology, a Professor of History, a Professor of Linguistics, a Professor of Theology and other professors who are capable of professing and professionalizing truth-telling. As a student, all I can do is hazard a few guesses.
For a start, (or is too late to start?). Never mind! I still insist on my phrase: For a start, it may be that the old woman is angry with her sons, daughters and lovers. Who are they? They are you, you and you. It is a truly beautiful day when a man finally realizes he has grown too old to deceive himself (or that he may die deceiving himself), when he allows this self-realisation to restrain him, and when he allows this self-restraint to assist him in fulfilling his obligations and when he allows the fulfilment of his obligations to lead him to prosperity… for himself, the woman next to him, the community that nurtured him and more importantly the God whose air He breathes.
Adversely, it is a truly ugly day when a man fails to realize his true worth and he allows his intelligent self to be deluded into believing his true worth lies in doing the things he was not commissioned to do and escaping or knowingly avoiding the things he was commissioned to do. All the more is that he allows his excellent-self-chosen-misguidance to lead him to arrogance. And worst of all to allow his arrogance to make him believe that it is others that commit his own crimes! He never commits any crime, rather it’s only people that fail to understand the wisdom behind his actions.
This is true for most humans and human communities. But in Nigeria’s case, it is beautifully true and truly beautiful to those who are habitually enveloped by this beautiful truth.
The young think the fault lies with the old and the old know (from experience) it’s the fault of the young. Women believe it’s men’s fault but men (by their strength) assert it’s women’s fault. The masses are conscious of the fact that politicians are to blame but politicians can prove it (with ‘relevant’ data) that the masses are not doing enough. The people blame the government and the government blames the people. But my anger (or Mama Naija’s anger, if I guessed right) is this: Why do people insult Nigeria for their own crimes? Who is the culprit here, is it the country or the people?
Do you consider it a misfortune that you are a Nigerian? Then consider it a greater misfortune that you don’t know your potentialities as a Nigerian. You are a member of a nation of saints, criminals, thieves, and sincere nation builders. All you have to do is to choose the camp you want to belong to. The first, the second, the third, or the fourth? Be truthful to yourself! If anybody wants to be good here, there is enough opportunity for him/her.
Have you ever cried when you realized you could be among the major causes of Nigeria’s problems? Or you simply scrolled through your mind to bring up images of 99 compatriots whose crimes are worse than yours? To be able to mentally save and retrieve the names of ninety-nine criminals any time the need arises may qualify you for a B.Sc in Criminology, but your inability to realise that you may be the hundredth criminal will not qualify you for a primary school certificate in morality. Why should a nation with such a high degree of adherents to religions that possess heavenly scriptures be found wanting in very simple issues that serve as Tests of Morality? Are you really sincere in your love for God? YES. NO. NOT CERTAIN (secretly tick the correct option).
You may be one of those people who believe Nigeria will never change for the better. Please don’t allow Nigeria to change (if you can) so that your prophecy will come true! But do endeavour to change yourself for the better. (Ironically, even if you do this alone, your prophecy will still not come true). Because, a change of one citizen is a change, after all. In simple calculus, assuming there were only one hundred citizens in Nigeria, your change will mean Nigeria has changed by 1% for the better. And nobody knows how many more people your change is going to inspire. Very soon we shall have a whole community of changed and progressive minds just because you were willing to set an example for them. Now, will you give change a chance?
A. F. Sesay writes from Lagos. He can be reached via email@example.com.