- Category: POLITICS
- Published on Friday, 23 January 2009 17:25
- Written by Administrator
Originally Posted by Auspicious
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THERE is almost nothing that Motherland Nigeria has experienced in all her independent years - good, bad or evil - that countries like the United States, or any other developed and successful country around the world, has not experienced at one time or the other. You name it - is it pride, hope and optimism at the dawn of a new nation? Is it the diversity of talent and background? Is it political and economic upheavals? Is it a high-fatality secessionist civil war? Is it the possibility of external aggression? Is it political opportunism and corruption? The list goes on. These countries have been through practically everything that has been through - and in some cases, worse than Nigeria's.
Yet, these societies went ahead to thrive better than anyone ever expected of them. Let us forget the stories of the superpowers for now and use other examples. Let's take for instance the so-called Asian Tigers - the Malaysias and the Singapores. And, if we move further up from towards North-East Asia, how about and Japan? South Korea in particular was worse-off than Nigeria at the time of Nigeria's independence in 1960; she was poor, ravaged by war between Elephants in which she was the grass and far from developed. Today, South Korea, like many of her aforementioned Asian counterparts are able competitors with some of the world's largest economies.
Granted countries like the United States and the rest of the superpowers are grand, centuries-old nations who have had all the time in the world to be where they are in terms of development today. But it does not detract from the fact that their development has followed a fairly steep upward projection over time. On the other hand, for countries like Nigeria, things practically flat-lined in some cases and followed a downward spiral in most cases. Rarely do you see a country that is so well endowed in human and natural capital follow such a sad trend. And this is the case not just with Nigeria; it is a common phenomenon with many African countries. It is the same unfortunate story of failure.
Of course the people of the successful countries are not smarter or more blessed than we Africans are in the general sense. It is a fact that we are just as intellectually gifted as any other race is out there. And even if some argue that our "psyche" is somewhat different from that of others - which by the way is very debatable, the fact remains that we are just as human and appreciative of good things in life as any other human out there in the world. We like to progress. We can invent. We don't like discomfort. We love to be free. We love to invest and enjoy fruits of our investments. We would readily accept easier ways of doing things - and so on. We Africans are not different from any other race out there in terms of our capabilities.
So why haven't we developed? Why do we remain at the same rung where others met us and left us? Well, no doubt the interruption of our civilization process by the colonialists played a role in this - but it is not a role in which we are not directly complicit. As a matter of fact, we are a critical part in making the role that these colonialists played in our affairs a reality. Our roles were played in many ways that included, and was not limited to, selling ourselves into slavery for mirrors and gun-powder and other things that glittered in our eyes. No doubt we were ignorant and unexposed in those days. But let us face it; we still demonstrate the same traits and tendencies of our fore-fathers up to this day.
And that remains our biggest albatross. It is one thing for us Africans to fall for the colonialists' glitter a few centuries ago. But it is another thing entirely to continue to fall for it long enough to fulfill the unfortunate end of the proverb, "You fool me once, shame on you; you fool me twice, shame on me", with the difference here being that we continue to be fooled far more than twice. And it doesn't matter how brilliant or well-read we are, we still trip over the same damn old log of wood in our way. All it takes is for us to see something good elsewhere, and we instantly revert to that same old "me-mine" mode that continues to badly undermine the collective development and progress of continental Africa.
Many an African African mind has been in a state of permanent distraction ever since more developed colonialists berthed our shores. Such Africans are either trying to get out of their homelands in , or trying to forget their African homelands, or have actually said their permanent goodbyes to . A good example is Mr. Phillip Emeagwali, who has deserted his home country of Nigeria for 30 good years and counting. In the case of Emeagwali, 35 of his immediate and extended family members have joined him in America over the years, making it easy, in some way, for him to have his home away from home. So the chances of Emegwali getting homesick is probably close to zero.
People often make the mistake of misplacing the cause and effect of our problems in Nigeria and Africa at large. They say, when things are bad, people run away. I used to think so as well until recently. Today, I say, when people run away, things get from bad to worse. Losing 35 intelligent members of Emeagwali's family to America best describes what I am talking about here. While one may not want to blame them for trying to survive, one must accept the reality that Emeagwali and 35 of his family members deserted Nigeria because they saw the glitter on the other side of the world, leaving Nigeria's fortunes in the hands of the Atiku Abubarkars, the Yar'Aduas, the Obasanjos, the Ubas and the rest of those whom we call leaders.
And the Emeagwali example will remain the trend for some time to come. For as long as the Nigerian and his African brothers and sisters from across the continent continue to be wooed with the glitter from across the oceans, African will never catch-up with the rest of the developed world. Yes, the cause of the African problem started when the colonialists came to distract us with their ephemeral goods centuries ago, and yes, they still continue to distract us with their goods - or, rather, we continue to allow ourselves to be distracted with their goods when we should know better. Practically every body thinks in the "me and my family" way and rarely think of doing things to advance the lot of the society at large.
I have made the acquaintances of people - privileged people - who prefer to be fugitives in places like America after earning their full educational qualifications rather than return to their homes in Africa. Their reasons? They don't want to return to bad roads, poor electricity supply, poor security etc. So who is going to return if all these folks don't return home? Who will be the first to jump into cold-water pool? Nobody. Yet, we all complain about the dearth of progress in our homelands. As US President-Elect Barack Obama would say, "we are the Change we have been waiting for". As long as the best of us remain away from home and leave the management of our country to opportunists, nothing will change.
Every one of us who, like the Emeagwalis, has deserted the homeland to settle down in a developed world elsewhere is guilty of his or her part in helping Nigeria to remain at the ladder's rung. The problem did not start with any Abacha or Obasanjo, the problem started when many of us allowed the glitter on the other side to distract us from our priority. It is not enough for us to camp-out comfortably elsewhere and 'help' Nigeria with our occasional little Christmas party donations to the local "Motherless Babies Home" in Awka, or Ile-Abiye in Ado-Ekiti. If we must help the Motherland, we should sacrifice all the advantage that we enjoy as residents of the developed world and go home to change our societies.
That is why I will forever hold in the highest regard, those who simply came here, got enlightened and returned home to do give their all, not just to their immediate family but also in any little way they can to their society at large. In returning home, they made tough decisions that many of us cannot easily bring ourselves to make. They tear themselves away from all the comfort that their resident developed societies affords them, and go home to take what they don't deserve for all their hard work. At the end of the day, they inspire another child to follow in their foot-steps after such child might have witnessed their commitment, their integrity, their consistency, their values and the sacrifice they gave.
I happen to know one person like that. He came out from the midst poverty and illiteracy in Ekiti and managed to get elementary education by a hair's breathe. He studied hard and succeeded in living-off scholarships, from Wesley College Ibadan to the University College Ibadan and later, to Scotland and the United States, where he qualified as a highly trained and highly recommended General Surgeon. He practiced there for a few years before relocating home, not to Lagos, not to Ibadan, but to his Ekiti where he practices to date. He is not rich, he is just comfortable - even when he could have made choices that would make him rich today. But he has a wealth of a humble name and reputation within his community.
This man could have taken-off and returned to the developed world like many of his peers did when things got rough over the years. Some of us thought he was crazy not to consider going back to that glitter across the Pond. But he stayed and weathered the storm at home. He preferred to be the King of his own Turf - he prefered to be his own local champion. In the end, he was better off for it, for he was always appreciated by his fellow citizens who knew him. Yet, he is no big man with mansions. He remains a man of modest means and ways and a humble disposition. Those who don't know him think he is rich. But the truth is that he is wealthy - wealthy in name, in honor and in integrity. We need more Africans like him.