As I sit here and write this, I am hounded by my state of adulthood especially as I reminisce on the earlier days of my tender youth. Last week, a friend from primary school shared a class photo from when we were about six years of age. It was her birthday and I distinctively looked away from the camera, away from the cake, even away from her. She customarily wore her “mofty” as the celebrant on this one day in the school year, when the principles governing student uniformity and neatness did not apply. With a Grinch-worthy smirk, my facial expression spoke volumes in anticipation for my own date of birth.
Those were the only things that bothered me; concerns of party packs, cake icing and getting picked last on the playground. Now, I am chased by fears of mediocrity, fears of stagnation and a lack of growth; the fears of failure—not only personal ones, but the failures of an entire Nation. A Nation that knows nothing but that which scares me. I long for the past now more than ever. I regret being in a hurry to grow up, because the world can sometimes be a haunted house with no door of escape, whereas in my younger days, such issues that currently plague my mind were worlds away. At least, that is what being a grown up in Nigeria feels like, especially when it parallels other places. The Nigerian dream is not to have freshly painted white-picket fences with green lawns and summer barbeques; it isn’t having kids playing in the backyard nor is it to serve the fatherland, though it is constantly sung in the national anthem. The Nigerian dream is to be wealthy, and that—in my opinion—is the thesis of what drives the minds of the citizens of the falsely self-proclaimed giant of Africa. These dreams, to many people, unfortunately become nightmares. Couple these things with the election season and the unruly tensions for aggressive responses, and I am not only afraid, but I am utterly terrified. Not for myself, but for those who I care for the most as it never hits quite the same until a problem you know exists stares you point-blank, eye to eye.
With that being said, this column comes out on Sunday, one week after the presidential elections and I know that people are still behind barricaded house doors, buttressed by the high cemented fences with sometimes barbed wired tops. These fences surround us all. They dehumanize us from being able to relate with the state of the destitute. At the same time, they make us claw, fight and desperately grasp to get even a quick glimpse of the lavish lives of others. I know people are disappointed. I knew this would be the case, regardless of what party is in power, because Nigerian politics operates strictly on the actions of self-interest. I accept the certainty of many things involving my Nation, many of which leave me constantly disappointed. However, I will always have hope. I hope that things will get better and people will be able to lift themselves out of poverty and desperation. I hope that the injustices and the misrepresentations of human rights will be held to a state of accountability. Most of all, especially now, I hope that people will have a reason to feel safe, especially during tense times like these.
The ignorance of a child indeed puts one in the state of bliss, but now, I unfortunately cannot look away from the scene that I find in front of me; I must look the monster directly in the eye and I do not plan on blinking. If only I could go back to the past. I would warn my younger self of many things, most of which would entail living in the moment, because in my adulthood, I have come to the realization that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
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