Thursday, October 01, 2015

Nigeria: Why stay here until we die?

I last wrote an Independence Day post in 2009, six years ago. In that emotional piece, I drew on experiences that had brought me to tears - from lives lost in preventable accidents to classmates who had dropped out of school, ending it with a call to act for a better standard of life for the average Nigerian.

In the six years since then, I have started multiple essays but not completed any. Confronted with the magnitude of the challenges we face as a nation, I chose instead to focus on doing what little I could in my own corner. Tonight however, I feel strongly compelled to share the following thoughts. I will adopt the framework and text used by Olusegun Adeniyi, chair of the ThisDay newspaper editorial board and spokesman to former president Musa Yar'Adua, at The Platform earlier today.
3Now there were four men with leprosyd at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.” - 2nd Kings 7, NIV.
This story from the Bible describes a time of war and famine in Samaria. The King of Aram had besieged Samaria, and food was so scarce that mothers ate their children. It was a bleak situation for the Samarians. They had no choice but to wait it out and hope to defeat the Arameans in battle, or die slowly of hunger after all the young and weak were eaten. Then four men at the city gates, lepers, asked a question that changed everything.

Why stay here until we die?

It was a simple question, but it changed everything. If the lepers stayed at the city gates, they would die. If they went into Samaria, they would die. But if they surrendered to the Arameans, they could die or live depending on how the Arameans responded. All of a sudden, there was the option to live!

They identified the option to live, contingent on the Arameans response to their surrender, because they refused to accept things as they were. They refused to simply lay down and die. They refused to be accept the status quo.

Why stay here until we die?

I have long believed we can influence the future of our nation. I do not believe any of the challenges we face so great as to be insurmountable in the face of our collective will and purpose. I have long believed we can rise above the divisions that shackle us and work together to improve the quality of life in Nigeria.

But - we have to stop smiling through the suffering. We have to recognize our ability to influence the future. We have to do something!

Will you pay for one child to go back to school? Will you bombard your Local Government Chairman with letters until the Primary School library is refurbished? Will you pay for one mother to learn a trade and establish a small business? Will you join a political party and make your voice heard? Will you obey the rule of law and treat other Nigerians with courtesy and respect?

If we continue as we are, we die.

What will you do?

1 comment:

  1. I will play my own part; one action at a time till I see the Nigeria of my dreams...