FRAGMENTS OF A BROKEN NATION
While I sat at my office, my mind kept this rhythm of chaos. I looked at the dilapidated state of our nation. Its mind boggling the extent of damage we've inflicted on ourselves. As I though over it with my legs strung out on the table, it got clearer and clearer. We were a fragmented nation. Not just fragmented because we have managed to blow out every opportunity before us and thrash the nation; we are also fragmented as people, abi na lie?
This is a truth that sticks in the mouths of many people, but when we are able to face the present reality, then we can begin to create the new reality which is a transformed nation suitable for our daily lives and a place of growth for our children.
Analyzing the faces of the pieces which I see laid out on the floor; I get a shiver, it seems like a mountain on fire, a huge problem we can't move, we can't seem to touch it, it's hot, too hot for us to think of touching so we duck and run, we skip as rams and return to our humble grassland. This has been our story.
Some have tried to touch the smoldering mountain and to our utter horror, they got burnt out. They disappeared and no one could say a thing about it.
What I see at the core of the matter is simply primal, or should I say primarily primal. In simple words, it's just a lack of unified character and outlook, care and national passion, but this is like coming from behind, at the front it's a matter of many ethnic groups so roughly mixed. I remember a story, a king saw a statue in his dreams; the feet were made of sand and metal, a very poor mix… but the dream says, they crushed nations with it. They learnt to weld their diversity to something formidable.
This mix of ours is something like an alchemists' pot it seems. You know the alchemists thought about creating gold from base metals, they held on to the philosophy that they could get it done. When I look at the country it looks like something done with the mind of an alchemist, the mind of our colonial masters worked in completely high gear and they saw a country with a great mix of people, such beautiful diversity, that it would become the platform and pillar for Africa's development.
Did they get that right? Maybe or maybe not, but the truth is before us. I'll ask a few challenging questions later on; questions that challenged me.
Over the years we've had riots and disagreements, we've seen militant activity escalate, we've seen mutated violence having a duality of ethnic and religious effect with undertones of territorial struggle. I know that last point hits you as misplaced, but think of the Jos riots, it's simply a matter of who would stay where and where and the fear of losing something. You figure? It's very complicated, we have talked and talked, we often use the term corruption but we've never asked ourselves why it still thrives even stronger. I think sane parents care for their children, every sane man and woman cares for his/her siblings and parents. Forget the extreme cases of stupidity.
Statement of truth: if we cared for one another we wouldn't steal and lodge others in the pits of poverty.
If everyone was conscious that someone else needs just one good meal, just enough to get to a local government school, just enough to afford transportation… then we would go easy on the looting. You see it's a primal thing. This is the reason the whole thing is in fragments, in little broken pieces.
Imagine a man at a desk and he has to sign off a contract for a road to access a small village a 1000 miles from his home town, a totally different set of people; God, he doesn't really give a damn if they walk in the mud; it's not his home town! He may never go there for the rest of his miserable life till he's packed up in dust!
Sad to see, but this is the painful truth. Everyone thinks first of his own, his own bank account, his own car, his own houses, his family, his generation to come… there's nothing wrong with this, but then on the broad spectrum; this alchemists' mix is meant to work! It means we are supposed to perceive and be sensitive in a brotherly manner. We have to be conscious of the travails of less fortunate states and areas; we have to be concerned about the young child in school or the one who's a hawker in this 21st century; with no hope of an education and no light for a future better than what is today. We have to remember the ones forced into crime… but do we? No, we don't even know if they exist.
The western world grew by sustaining and protecting their own. Every citizen is seen as vital; crime is treated with justice, the full desire being to protect the people while taking every opportunity to redeem the redeemable criminal. By developing the people they grew in strength.
We have three major ethnic groups and a host of others chaining away to a stunning mix. In between we have minor groups. Sometimes I like to think that the reason we don't have widespread wars is because of these 'buffer' tribes in between all of us, it's like oil in a rusty machine. The major groups have little acceptance of each other, go back in history. That brotherliness is almost a whisper in the storm. It's the desirable, but I fear sometimes that it will never be. I've pondered upon it; it drives me crazy, my dada dey scatter!
Have you realized that the first thing you see when you approach a fellow national is a wall of protection, the first instinct is self-preservation and mistrust, hmmm; did I say self-preservation? Self-gain I mean. The level of mistrust is alarming. Not like I can blame people for it, it's the journey and the bumps that have put that in us. But it tells you something, there are barriers, they are ethnic, religious, territorial and resource-driven. When you speak a common language, the wall of mistrust comes down a bit. When you know a common link (another new language) it steps down further, we have new languages, I'll explain later.
We've seen religious bloodbaths, we've seen ethnic ones, why were they? If we critically assess the situations behind these, we see they were always a hybrid, one type growing to become a case of ethnic-religious unrest. A trivial matter becomes a case of religious obligation, then burning starts, pregnant women are butchered, young men are beheaded and children are chased away. Look beneath the stuff you hear, it's simple, these people are not the same, as such when there are resources in between them (land, territory, power), the struggle is ruthless, it is driven by total hate and venom. There must be no compromises.
My time in America taught me a whole lot. There was a unifying factor, a common dream called the American dream. Their advanced society wasn't always as it is today, the streets of New York were once terrorized by gangsters, they had seen the pains of racism, they had come from less-than-ideal times. But they built a common purpose, this was sold out to the people by dedicated, purposeful governments, governments that looked in 50, 100, 200 years into the future of their nation and defined their dreams.
What do we have? We have never agreed on a common goal, we not only allow our languages to separate us, we make for ourselves new ones like: power rotation, sovereign national conference, runs, cabal, IM, etc, maybe you go fit add your own. These new terms have become like passphrases. We have created invisible walls between ourselves, the major tribes tussle for power while the minor tribes seek survival, protecting themselves by bonding tightly, like hard shells.
Greed is deep, why? Because no one cares how the other survives. In certain GRAs (another language) or estates within the country; you see a mansion and 20 yards from it there are squatters, there's a shack where all that's sold can't clean the car in the mansion. Yet all the big boy (another one) wants is to get those filthy paupers off his vicinity, he then moves for another Government tagged intrusion to purge the scum… our brothers.
You see, I have to stop writing this, it hurts me even more as I write. But if you've learnt anything, let it be to seek out how you could start speaking a common language: the language of love, the language of unity, the language of brotherliness. I tell you, this would bite at corruption directly, for no man can hurt himself. If you see this nation as your assignment, your home, your heritage; then speak the language it deserves, then maybe we'll start picking up the fragments.