I thought I was having a bad day given the fact that my fancy sandals chose to break a strap without warning and almost sent me sprawling onto the floor of the market just when one 'fine' dude was checking me out (yeah, I'm vain like that).
But when I spied one harried mother of three down the aisle in front of me, I quickly realized I had a lot to be thankful for. Unlike the other shoppers for Christmas, she didn't have a basket laden with food items and calorie-stocked goodies; she didn't have a pair of fancy stilettos on her feet either, but she did have a very old pair of worn bathroom slippers on; she didn't leave behind the rich scent of Chanel No. 5, just the smell of a body that had not been washed in a few days.
Interestingly though, she wasn't having a bad day because of her appearance, she was having a bad day because she was in danger of being deported back to her own country soon (don't bother asking me what country that is) a fact which seemed to bother her even though she could barely feed herself and her 3 kids. That gave me pause; I have heard tales of Nigerians stowing away just to get to other countries but I have not heard many tales about foreigners fighting to remain in Nigeria- perhaps I need to get out more?
Well suffice it to say, this episode got me thinking about what it means to be Nigerian and I realized that for some of us, it is a nightmare from which we may never awaken. For some, being Nigerian is synonymous with being poor, black, deprived, and disadvantaged; for some others, being Nigerian means being proud leaders of the African continent; and for yet others, Nigeria is where dreams come to die, where hopes are dashed, and where nothing works! This is probably the part where some of us would nod our 'wise' heads and parrot the fact that the Biafran agenda has its roots in the disadvantaged situation of some Nigerians. (But that's adiscussion for another day).
Nigeria, as with most things in life, is for every person what he or she makes it. While we consign 2015 to the annals of history and begin yet another set of quickly-broken new year resolutions, we might want to bear in mind the fact that Nigeria is the soil that bears the hopes and futures of generations unborn. In 2015, while some men were saying there was a casting down what with 'Tsunami-Buhari' rounding up 'goats' and their left-over yams, some others were saying there was a lifting up what with unexpected appointments, crackdowns, and policies.
In the end, regardless of whether one sides with the goats or the hunters, we have come to a point where we must unveil the true beauty of Nigeria; which is that undying Nigerian spirit. If you have ever seen a group of youths (strangers to one another), rise as one to speak against injustice and oppression; if you have ever seen ordinary men and women exchange smiles and jokes in the midst of unbearable hardship; if you have ever watched people hawk pepper rather than begging; if you have ever watched Taxi men and danfo drivers execute more elegant maneuvers than 007; if you have ever seen half-naked children cheerfully build castles with nothing more expensive than sand and their feet, then you should be very proud to be Nigerian.
For me, being Nigerian means being free to laugh at the world because there is a Spirit within us that can never be broken by circumstances; it means seeing the possibility of good in everyone; it means embracing diversity as a strength and not a weakness! East or West, there is no place quite like Nigeria!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
ARTICLE BY SHERINA OKOYE