Through the previous weeks of my Leadership columns, I have sadistically written about Nigeria, painting the green and white over with black and blood splattered red. I am unsure as to why my mind has been fixated on the negatives, as the columns I write are mostly influenced by my experiences. Hence, the inspiration comes from Nigeria, settles within me as I reflect upon it, and it eventually comes out in terms that I hope can resonate with others. I write for myself, but the beauty of writing comes from strangers being able to see themselves within the words of others.
For that reason, this week’s column is going to be on a lighter note. A note that still stems from my settling experiences, but good experiences nonetheless.
A few weeks ago, I went out with a few friends to watch a football match and have a few drinks. In the center, united by the mutual fandom and admiration of the Red Devils, the men and few women within the vicinity argued, jeered and celebrated the players and the rich history of the Old Trafford faithful. Arguments broke as one would expect, but they were mainly out of banter and good spirits. Because of that experience as Ole Gunnar’s men lost to Wolves in an FA cup fixture, I came to two immediate points of realization: Tribalism and prejudice do not exist in football viewing centers, and Nigerians have the intrinsic ability to make jokes out of everything and anything.
In the carnage of everything that happens in this country, I am constantly baffled at how people can keep on keeping on, in a country where some form of adversity is being thrown at you one after the other. At this point, I fear a melancholic tangent may ensue, where I go into a rant on the nation and the problems I have with it. But I shall vehemently resist the urge to give in and do so, as sometimes Nigeria and I feel like we are in a long term, passive aggressive relationship. The main point that I am trying to pass across is that Nigerians are also some of the most resilient people you will ever find, because being thrown into the deep end without floaters, forces one to either swim or drown.
Nigeria has a lot of other things that I love about it; the things which make us stand aside when compared to our brothers and sisters around the world. For instance, I appreciate how we say we are from where our parents are from, as opposed to where we were born. Doing this keeps us always connected to our cultural roots, which is a privilege I have grown to understand that not everyone is lucky enough to have. Therefore I am not from the Federal Capital Territory even though that is where I was born and raised; I am from Gombe state from my father’s side. My mother is from Benue.
On a shallower note, I love the music. I appreciate its influence on the continent, and the world as it is growing. I value the songs in languages that I do not understand, but can rap from the beginning to the end, as many Nigerian songs are not appreciated for the intricate lyricism. It’s all about the vibe it gives off; it’s all about how it makes you feel.
Upon reflection, it occurs to me that I shouldn’t try and force things, as these are the thoughts that flowed naturally to me. This is the country that I love; it is the one that I hope gets better in many ways than just one. It also happens to be the one that I need to start appreciating a little bit more for what it is, rather than for what it should be.
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