To Bee Honest…
I cracked up majorly when I got an email from an American friend telling me that she was at a popular Nigerian club in the states celebrating Nigerian Independence Day. I always felt that I celebrated Independence Day more in the states than I would have in Nigeria. Granted it was just an excuse for Nigerian club promoters to throw a big party, but still, we would sing the national anthem in the club. Nothing beats the feeling of patriotism in a faraway land, removed from the realities of the country itself. It’s so much easier to romanticize a country when you aren’t dealing with the truth of living there, this is true for developed and developing countries, what’s that they say, the grass is always greener on the other side. No doubt sometimes it really is a little greener, but it still has to be planted, watered, mowed, fertilized and all that.
Getting to spend Independence Day in Nigeria this proved my theory right. I was still bemoaning my Monday road experience and I didn’t entertain the thought of driving anywhere or even participating in anything remotely patriotic, even writing this post on Independence Day was too much work.
Although I didn’t write I did a bit of philosophizing. Around October 1st (Nigeria’s Independence Day) one question is always asked without fail, as a country what do we have to show for our 34, 40, 45, and this year, 53 years of independence. I’ve definitely asked this particular question with a lot of heat, especially thinking of all the broken things within our society. This October 1st found me asking myself a different question, what is Independence Day about?
I believe Independence Day is about celebrating the liberation of a should-be-free people who were made subject to would-be-lords in their own land. This is what I believe October 1st is about and if my definition is true, doesn’t it hold to reason that independence should always be celebrated? I know recently a lot of people have compared Nigeria and South Africa. They have said that we, the supposed giants of Africa are lagging behind South Africa. Many Nigerians see in South Africa what they felt Nigeria could have been if the colonial masters had stayed longer. I’ve been one of those to point out the difference in both countries but recently I have wondered if this is a fair comparison.
South Africa and other countries that endured decades of colonial rule, and discrimination against the indigenous people have made a lot of progress in recent years. Yet, there is still a major divide between the “true” sons of the soil and the “foreigners”. Yes, many of the “foreigners” consider these countries theirs, generations of their families have been born there and they call no other place home .This isn’t an attack on them and their patriotism to these countries. It’s a question about whether the significant advances in infrastructure, education, health, government, and all are a worthy trade-off for being a second or third class citizen in your own land.
I can’t claim to have researched the issues of mental health, racial identity, and self-worth among citizens of countries that underwent prolonged colonial rule. However, I think it’s only logical decent to assume that the events of colonial rule leave an indelible mark on the colonized and generations after them. Truthfully, is prolonged colonialism much different from slavery?
Is being subjugated by your own people better than colonial rule? I’m not sure I can answer that question; however, I believe one thing about Nigeria is that Nigerians know that this is our home. If someone insults you on the road you insult them right back. Even with the massive divide between the rich and the poor, I haven’t experienced or noticed an extreme deference to the wealth by the poor. Yes there are many situations in which people are treated worse than they should be because of their lack of wealth and or societal status, but there’s a difference in the psyche. Every Nigerian or at least most Nigerians believe that they are human and deserve a certain modicum of respect. They may know that they’ll never get it but they don’t develop the inferiority complex found in some people who are products of extended colonial rule. In general, they know there are many reasons why they might not succeed but their skin color is not one. There is the issue of neo-colonialism and tribalism, but those must be explored at a different time.
Ultimately, when I consider everything we’ve come through as a nation and some of the possible alternative scenarios, I think we should be grateful for independence. What would have happened if we found oil before the British Colonials left? I doubt all the mosquitoes and weather as hot as Hades would have persuaded them to budge. So in the true spirit of what independence means to me, I can honestly say HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY NIGERIA, albeit a day late. Muddle on Nigeria, muddle on, I still love ya.