As I stood in front of the young people who had shown up for our regular bi-monthly seminar, my heart swelled with pride. In a town considered ‘backward’ by most, where everyone is accused of being a diehard money-lover; where wealth is considered the key that opens every door, these ones had come together to learn. In a town having over 50,000 people between the ages of 15 – 35, why would I be glad of 38? I was glad because I believe in the ripple effect. You see, I was raised to believe in the power of one. You don’t need a crowd to effect a change, you need just one. And here were 38 ‘ones’.
I am a closet Nigerian. I say closet because you will never hear me open my mouth to defend Nigeria. True; because there is very little to defend. It amazes me how loud people are about all the ills in the country. How quick we are to dump blame on our political leaders, the British, our religious leaders, our tribal differences and even the fact that we are situated close to the equator. So, I shut my mouth and listen, watch and learn. I learn from the folly of others, from their rants I learn how not to speak. From their actions I learn how not to act.
A lot of people of this generation are quick to lay the mess that Nigeria is squarely on the shoulders of the generations past. You only need to visit Facebook or Twitter. A while back I saw a video made by a young Nigerian living in the United States, stating all the reason why she wouldn’t return to Nigeria. Of course my blood boiled, as did that of many others. I wasn’t on fire because she was wrong, I was on fire because of all the ignorant and half-truth assumptions she made based most likely on what she had read on social media and sprouted without proper research. But that is not the matter at hand.
Five score years ago, an entity called Nigeria was created. About 85 years later, a person we’ll call Anna was born. Nigeria had existed for a lifetime, Anna was just a baby. She grew and as she grew, she was told of all the gruesome things Nigeria had been through. How there was a massive genocide in the name of war, how Nigeria had been raped by a succession of corrupt individuals. By the time Anna came into the picture, things were so bad that prices of regular commodities had inflated by more than 200% in 50 years. What was Anna to do? She had not been here when it all started.
What would you do in Anna’s place? Fold your hands and say, ‘abeg, no be me spoil am so no be me go repair am?’ Get a visa to some land of opportunity and check out like Prof. Pat Utomi’s ‘Generation that Left Town?’ Become an ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ person? Become and activist and get killed, leaving you parents to mourn over and empty casket? The options are limitless and they are right before you.
I am not an advocate for any of the above options; I believe in the power of one. I am a believer in the ripple effect. A ripple effect is a situation where, like the ever expanding ripples across water when an object is dropped into it, an effect from an initial state can be followed outwards incrementally (wikipedia). I’m sure you know how it relates to real life. If you don’t, try doing a little research, it wouldn’t hurt.
I’ve probably come across like some goody two shoes. I’m not. I’m a badass young Nigerian who is passionate about change. I’m all for doing this differently. Remember the terrible elders who messed up this country? Well, if we keep going on the way we are, our children are going to say then same things about us.
If we keep…
Dropping waste (pure water satchet, used recharge cards, etc) everywhere
Yelling at the driver to roger the policeman so we can get home in time
Acting as educated thugs for politicians at the rate of N10,000 per election (that’s a four year stint where the guy steals billions of naira; dumb?)
Adding an extra 50% on every purchase we make for our office (and then asking the innocent child at the shop to write a receipt in effect corrupting that young mind)
Paying for special centres for ourselves and our younger ones so they can ‘pass’ their O’Levels
…and so on.
If we keep doing these things, then we better get ready for a lifetime of complaining because you can’t keep doing things the same way and expecting a different result.
It’s not always about doing the right thing. It can be about not doing the wrong thing.
In a country of approximately 150million ‘ones’, if every ‘one’ decides to be a broker for positive, Nigeria would be a lot different, wouldn’t it?