Independence Day – Why am I not celebrating?
Nigeria celebrates her birthday today but I’m not feeling particularly festive. I was born there but I’ve since lived in 2 other very different countries so maybe my patriotism is all over the place. Or perhaps it’s because I’m not currently living there. Actually it’s probably, well definitely, because I can’t find a reason to celebrate.
I would love to be proud of my country of birth but the mere mention of her name lends itself to conversations about royal scams, corruption and the like. It’s like listening to gossip about your friend and having to decide whether to defend their honour, say nothing or join in? The latter two are usually my reaction depending on the audience. The only occasion I tolerate being classed as “from Africa” is when my nationality is questioned eventhough it’s never acceptable to refer to Africa as a country. I mean, you wouldn’t call a Brazilian an American so why is every black person African? I digress.
Friends ask what it’s like to live there and it’s hard to find positive things to say about it. Perhaps the food is an exception. I do miss my mum’s cooking! Every time I visit, she appears to take one step forward and 10 steps back but I’ll save that rant for another day. Of course, not everyone is a hustler. There are some good eggs but the behaviour of the many taints how everyone is perceived.
Despite all these, Nigerians ranked the happiest in a 2003 world survey. In a more recent 2017 survey, they ranked 95th in the world but 6th in Africa. So in a country where bribery is rife, crime and violence is run of the mill, basic amen like electricity is temperamental (this is putting it mildly), people can still be happy. Go figure! Maybe it’s the optimism that one day things will change. We can but hope and pray.
To quote the national anthem, maybe one day we will “build a nation where peace and justice shall reign” but until then, I don’t feel patriotic enough to celebrate on her birthday. Come to think of it, I’m not sure it is necessary to identify with a particular country anymore. Maybe we should all see ourselves as citizens of the world and strive to make where we reside a better place.