54 years ago, we stood together as a nation and our cry for independence from British Colonialism was successfully granted on October 1st 1960. Personally, today marks a bitter-sweet moment for myself and perhaps in the hearts of others. I am not going to look at all our issues back home, moan and say we have ‘nothing to celebrate’, however I will add my two cents worth into what today means for myself and hopefully for other Nigerians too.
Let’s be honest. We are all aware of serious challenges facing Nigeria which range from Political to cultural, to societal challenges. As our guest contributor Tosin rightly pointed out in her post last week, it is a shame that songs written many years ago by musician Fela Kuti still hold relevance in Nigerian landscape today. With the pressing issue of Boko Haram to add to a growing list, it all seems as though there are too many mountains for our country to climb. Hence, I do not blame those in the ‘we have nothing to celebrate’ camp. Why should I?
Nigeria’s history since its independence in 1960 has at large been filled with all manner of corrupt individuals seeking to gain power, with empty promises. The reason Independence Day for Nigeria marks a bitter-sweet moment in my heart is the knowledge I have of our country’s vast potential, compared to what we see today. Those abandoned railway tracks I see back home, once upon a time, served a purposeful need.
As much as we did not like the invasive feeling of British presence on our soil, we experienced plenty of trade. We started to build railways, we experienced significant growth in our education and infrastructure as well as the birth of Christianity. Our economy had boomed to the extent that at one point the Naira, became stronger than the pound. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Independence should have propelled our country towards a glistening future. With this knowledge compared to what we see today, we are of course still angry, still asking ourselves ‘what has happened?‘ In fact, many Nigerians in the western world are hiding their green passports when applying for jobs. To be Nigerian today, is to be more scrutinized (sad but true).
Rather than continue listing the ‘could have been’s’ for Nigeria and fellow Nigerians, today also marks a time we stood together, undivided as a nation to achieve a Historic feat. Although there are mountains to climb for Nigeria, seeing advancements in telecommunications for example, offers a glimmer of hope. I dare say our positive performances in the World Cup always adds to a feel good factor.
Above all, if we have anything to celebrate today, let’s rejoice that our country has remained together in all its 36 states, over 500 languages and many different tribes. Let’s rejoice in the talent we see in our musicians and in our industrious young people all over the world. Let’s rejoice in our country being nicknamed, ‘Giant of Africa’ with the largest economy in Africa worth more than $500 billion. Let’s rejoice in the strength of our people.
Happy Independence day Nigeria!
BY C H I. E N E J E
Below are some Nostalgic Photos of Nigeria, Photos by Nigerian Nostalgic Project