Wednesday, August 4, 2010


When elders speak, even the forest animals pause to listen, says an African proverb....

...Well, I’m African. And proudly Nigerian, even though sometimes I feel pushed to describe her as my other country... But frankly, no matter where I go around the world, Nigeria will remain my country. However, I must confess to you that I still feel the Andrew’s rush of blood... I’m fed up of this country. I want to check out, man! ... Although time has refined my thoughts... But really, Naija sucks, man.... the system don’t seem to be working.... I mean, what has this country really done for me so far?

“Oh, bulls...t. Stop kidding yourself, young man. What have you done for your country?”

“Wait, who....what!?” Was it now possible to read people’s minds in a five star hotel lobby these days? My friend, Toyin, forgot that he was in a public place. We turned and saw a towering man staring at us with burning gaze. Toyin almost melted. The man, wearing an expensive lace outfit, looked fifty, or sixty.

“Forgive the interruption. But, you were speaking so loud into your phone. I thought I should let you know that you might be disturbing the guests,” Now, he said this with a smile playing on his lips. Toyin looked confused, like someone who was unsure whether if he should take the man’s words to heart or hand him a piece of his rage. He cut my thoughts into pieces with his next statement.

“Who knows the future? But I know that Nigeria has a future. I can understand your pain and frustration with the system. But this country will always be your fatherland... or motherland,” he smiled again.

“Eh, may I know your name sir,” Toyin asked. His face suddenly looked familiar. Again, he smiled, this time like a father who, two minutes ago, just met his prodigal son.

“I won’t tell you my name since you might want to interview me further. But just call me Otunba,” That made me laugh. Yeah, right.

“Nice to meet you, sir, em, Otunba...sir,” In turn, we both shook his hands and sat down. Just then, one pretty hotel attendant walked up to him.

“Your luggage will be down in a few minutes, sir,” she said.

“Thank you, Juliana,” he replied her. Then, the impression clicked. I must have seen him on TV... or met him at a function.

“I understand there are millions of disillusioned youths all over Nigeria,” he continued when the attendant left.

“Sorry Otunba, with due respect, I am simply angry at the system,” Toyin said politely.

“But of course, that is expected, with the poor leadership the country has suffered over the years. Despite the current situation now, please don’t give up on Nigeria. You don’t have to live this life complaining about Naija all the time, because if you’re the complaining type, there is a lot to complain about,” he said.

“Of course sir, with all the corruption and many other problems that...” Toyin was cut short by his laughter.

“There is a lot you can do by way of constructive participation. That’s why I’m saying what your generation and all of us need do now is to look into the future and ask ourselves, what is the future of this country, what can I do to make Nigeria better? The future of this country depends on the younger generation whom we must nurture,” He noted.

I thought I heard uh uh from the middle aged man who covered his face with a newspaper at the other end.

“But where is the environment, Otunba?” I asked. “So how can Nigerians constructively participate, when we all know that it is a broken record to say that the Nigerian system has failed to empower the youths. Our educational institutions have crumbled. There are not enough jobs for graduates,” I argued.

“I agree, shame on our leaders. But, this is your time. Don’t let them push you to the wall. Push back, with the force of your intellect and character. Yes, the so called leaders have failed. Yes, the past generation may have failed to build the right structures for the present. But please don’t you fail the next generations after you. If there are fifty million disillusioned youths and you can find one hundred willing ‘change’ agents, that’s good enough to affect the country’s future for the better. Be a significant part of the one hundred. Do something. By developing your character and skills, the force of you would be a ripple effect that will affect millions out there,”

This man must be on drugs or he really knows what he is saying.

“The older generation (of Nigerians) may have lost the 20th century. We must not allow the younger generation to lose the 21st century. This is your chance, our chance of redemption. Nigeria is in your hands. Release it to the Potter and let him show you how to be involved in recreating a new Nigeria that you, us and our children’s children can be proud of,” he continued.

“Maybe we should just all pray, I think, Nigeria needs deliverance,” Toyin said.

“But of course. And you, my young man, can be one of the deliverance ministers,” Toyin looked at me quizzically. Otunba laughed.

“What I mean is, your generation has a great opportunity of rethinking Nigeria’s future today. Don’t give up on Nigeria. Sometimes life begins at fifty, you know,” he said, smiling.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article. I am particular moved with the perspective. We have to collectively change the country through our individual patriotism and endeavour. We need to push back. We need to kick hard during this 2011 elections by voting for our leaders and protecting our votes.Arukaino,Keep it up. Femi Morgan