Nigeria at 50: In Defence of Hope


Imagine a man just out of work who loses all that’s dear to him in a raging fire: home, possesions, mementos, maybe a child or two. All he has left is his wife, one child and the clothes on their backs. No insurance.

What options are available to such a man?

Well, there’s suicide, for starters. No? Why not? After all, what does he have to live for? His now-decimated family? True, there is that, but wouldn’t his inability to provide for them only make him more depressed? Maybe not. Some, in the face of such tragedy, are able to press on in stubborn hope. Such a hope will necessarily have little in the way of material basis. Yet, without it, there can be no moving forward for our man. (There’s one other option, of course: he could simply plod on drearily, without hope and without dignity, but that’s hardly worth considering.)

So, is Nigeria at fifty worth celebrating? I think so.

Yes, things are bad, very bad. Indeed, to say Nigeria’s a giant of a mess is no exaggeration. Of course, there’s good, too, but there’s a very real sense in which that seems outweighed by the bad. What then? Shall we give up on the only nation we have? Well, do we give up on our families, riddled with flaws as they often are? I think not.

I choose to celebrate Nigeria, not because it’s where I want it to be, or because it’s done all its duty to me, but simply because it’s mine, for good or ill. And I intend to work on the former. Yes, I heartily deplore the mindless celebration that, admittedly, seems largely on order. But I’m equally tired of those who see only the bad and do not offer any help. If you really believe Nigeria is hopeless, then why do you even bother discussing the subject? Please.

I believe there’s a place for a sort of reflective celebration, one tempered with thoughtfulness. A celebration driven not by ignorant bliss or simplistic optimism, but by the kind of hope that’s not afraid to look grim reality head on. The kind of hope that makes suicide a non-option for one who has lost it all.

I dare to hope, even if it kills me. And while I hope, and work where I can, I will celebrate.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, MY FELLOW NIGERIANS!

“As I have begun, so I will go on. We have come now to the very brink, where hope and despair are akin. To waver is to fall.” (Aragorn, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings)

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