In this post, the primary question is, what are your expectations from Motherland? Do you believe in a Nigeria that can change totally or one that would forever remain the same? If you woke up one morning and the roads of Bariga, bore some semblance to a road in London, what would be your first thoughts?
Please read, and enjoy!
You woke up to the sound of your smartphone blaring off. You hit the dismiss button and then jumped out of bed. You walked to the sitting room and were surprised to see that there was light, so you began your morning rituals.
An hour later you were in your car, you turned the ignition but it made a coughing sound and stopped. You tried again and this time it sounded like a woman in labor, with a high screeching sound. The final time, just as the engine began to purr, and a smile began to form on your face, it made a deep sound like the coughing sounds of an old man with tuberculosis and then, it died. Disgusted, you shut the car and braced yourself for the danfo hustle. (You had your ‘bring it on’ expression, on your face)
You were surprised to see that your street was tarred, but you shrugged it off, then you got to the bus- stop and met a queue. Now that had you amazed, and you pinched yourself. You thought you were dreaming. You joined the queue anyway and waited with others, on comfortable seats. The next surprise was when a neat modern looking bus pulled in, and everyone began to enter. You joined them and gave a neat, young looking man your ticket as you boarded the bus (dis one no be danfo o!). It began to rain during the bus ride, and again you were surprised to see that the roads were not flooded. The downpour worsened, yet there was no flood. You felt like Noah must have felt after the waters went down, astonished and a bit crazy. So you ignored the weird looks everyone was giving you when you stuck your face to the glass looking out at tarred, well lit roads, bereft of shops on the road, hawkers or beggars.
Your amazement soon turned to embarrassment when you shouted, ‘Conductor, owa o!’ Everyone in the bus kept quiet and even the bus engine became silent. (You felt like the bride who farted audibly during the exchange of vows). The conductor walked up to you and said, ‘Sorry, but we do not do that anymore. Just press this button in front of you, and it will signal to the driver.’(So na me this boy dey follow talk like say I be imbecile) You turned red, as people began to snicker and mumble, even the conductor had a slight condescending smile as he demonstrated to you, how to press the bell. You hurried down at your bus-stop and started walking to your office.
You did not even notice it until you looked down, and then noticed that you were walking on a well-constructed side-walk. Your surprise grew more when you got to the traffic light, and noticed that there was no traffic warden there. Yet everyone was obeying the rules, you ran quickly across the zebra crossing, still scared that perhaps everyone would return to their senses and realize that they were being obedient without any law enforcer around. (Na Naija we dey o abeg) Again you were walking on a well-constructed pavement. You wondered what happened to the wooden planks with gaping holes that swallowed unsuspecting people in the dark.
You got to work, expecting to hear the silent rumble of the generator, and to your amazement, the spot where the generator was, was empty! No! Not empty, it had a small electronic billboard advertising your company’s products. You were still standing in front of the billboard, scratching your head and wondering where you were, when you woke up to shouts of ‘Up Nepa. (Ehen, I talk am now, na dream!) You rubbed your arm, the exact spot where you had pinched yourself in your dream, and then you wondered when Nigeria would be what you had just seen.
When people would not need the police to push them, like dogs herded sheep; you wondered when the average Nigerian would no longer look at his light bulb in ‘fear’ whenever ‘light’ lasted for more than twelve hours. (Abeg, Nepa, take the light now o! E don do!) You wondered when people would no longer die from ailments like malaria. When politicians would not use things like road construction, stable electricity, access to drinking water, affordable housing and health care facilities as campaign points; after all those were basic rights of every human being. You longed for a time when a four year degree course in the University would not become a six year course due to incessant strike actions.
You were sad, because you had been told that you were the future of Nigeria. Yet you did not know what it meant to be Nigerian. You prayed for a time when the Nigerian identity would exist and no longer the tribal identities that are; when you would no longer be Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa. And then, you wondered if you would ever have cause in your lifetime to be truly proud to say that you were Nigerian.
But for now, you had to iron your clothes with the charcoal iron, while using a kerosene lantern to navigate around your house. Then you hustled for the danfo, because your car refused to start (you cursed your dream for that). You smiled while hustling for the danfo, and then, harassed the conductor (an illiterate young man) for your change. You laughed when you saw the flood on the road, with hawkers, beggars and all the ‘normal’ things.
This was the Nigeria you knew, your smile was a sad one though, one of someone who knew that things could be better, if only everyone tried harder.
Written by Christian Okonkwor
You can follow him on twitter @chrisoyor
You can also read more of his works on: writtenwhisperz.wordpress.com