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DECLAIMER: THE BLESSED JOY OF BEING A NIGERIAN – JOHN CHIZOBA VINCENT

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DECLAIMER: THE BLESSED JOY OF BEING A NIGERIAN

I’ve watched Nigeria dissolving into a delirium story. The dead at the threshold, descended into the forgetfulness of our blue memories, with their indigo eyes and their silver glances into the hearts of the living. For the first time, I saw how Nigeria had sharpened our features as humans, how she had made us look so great as her offspring. She made sure we lack nothing because we are born into her by our parents. Before now, I have seen her cheekbones jutted out, her nose was pointed, her chin was sharp and enticing, and the two corners of her forehead stood out like the rock-shaped result of permanent or natural history. Her eyes were narrowed as if they were endlessly trying to exclude most of what they saw and those they thought of giving out. I remembered that it was because of her beautiful resources that we had chosen to live, to stay, to breathe, to laugh, to create; in the confines of her heart, and to break our pacts with our hearts and maybe, spirit companions. I remembered we were called Nigerians first and we moved on with the stainless inscriptions engraved on our bodies as Nigerians and, Nigeria has been too great a country to us all. I remembered it was because of her loving Leaders that we agreed to be in unity and never to fight others even when they take turns to look into our eyes enviously and call us bad eggs. I remembered our leaders have been our bedrocks, to everything we stand for; and holding to our differences, ideologies and views about them is what makes us who we are to Nigeria and to ourselves. They have stood for us because we are part of them and they are ready to fight for us.

The name tags by other foreigners don’t matter to us. The blessed Joy of being a Nigerian is the way we are seen as great people not fraudsters, by others. The blessed joy of being a Nigerian is the acceptance we receive from other countries of the world because we are better off as Nigerians. The blessed joy of being a Nigerian is the fact that we are being taken as endearing humans by the outside world despite our cultural diversity. Those times we were received for being Nigerians, those times we were adorned with love by foreigners for being Nigeria, we endured the love because our Leaders were working out something good for us. Those times they kept us in a separate room or hall in an airport and said to us:

 “Wait here, I will attend to you shortly” 

We waited for them to search us and to show that we were great people and great people ought to be shown great hospitality. Those times we were taken in by South Africans was to hide us from going back to our country, flowing with milk and honey so that we could help develop South Africa.

“How much Nigerian are you? Don’t you feel great to be called a Nigerian?” A Liberian friend once asked me. “I wish I was a Nigerian” 

I know we are not judged for being Nigerians. We are not judged for carrying her Passport that is printed in Malaysia because it needed to be perfectly made. We are not judged for leaving our mother land to suffer in a foreign land in other to help them develop their land. We are not ashamed of reciting the Nigeria Anthem even when they push us aside for singing it as patriotic Nigerians. Nigeria is to us what we are to ourselves and we have to stand and defend her from what people think she is.

In fact, one of the many promises I made before birth was that I would be a Nigerian to the core. I would make her happy and healthy. I had chosen to stay, now she wanted to kill me through the infrastructure springing up through her first Son. How could our father, her first son, be so much a great father to us all? The other day, I burst out laughing when i saw those wayward children of hers killed in Lekki Tollgate and our father could not talk because he had already warned them. That day, I threw myself on the floor and thrashed and laughed, asking Mother Nigeria why she would not allow them to kill more of her wayward children whom she had forsaken, those of them who have betrayed her many times. The demon of joy seized me completely that day. Later, Nigeria’ words came too late to me on how she has planned to treat those who had abandoned her. I could not separate myself from happiness. I became more excited. I laughed in advance for all the things that would happen, the unimaginable things beyond the horizon of all the narratives of our lives. I kept laughing. I kept applauding her brave leaders for the immeasurable steps they have taken to put the black sheep where they belong to without looking back at all. 

“When was it ever heard that a child was scolded by the piece of Yam its own mother put in its palm?” I had asked Imade, my brother after the Massacre. 

Besides, Nigeria is the drama of the Living that only the Dead can understand. Some of us have begun to distrust our memories. We have begun to think that we had collectively dreamt up the joy of that Lekki Tollgate deaths. Yet, we have not forgotten how the joy of being Nigerians and having the beautiful tags and scars of Nigeria on our faces feel like. We have not forgotten about it at all.

Meanwhile, I have come to realise that every smile under every roof in Nigeria is not cooked up. They are real. Nigeria has been too great to us and we must pay her back by being faithful too. People smile for different reasons. Some because their government have been good to them and some because their government have made them the government which is the case with Nigerians. When the father of Lagos state came out to tell us that there was nobody killed in Lekki Tollgate. We understood him because a father would not allow his children to be slaughtered by unknown men while they held the national flag and sang the national Anthem. A father would not allow his children to go agitating for what he has provided for them before hand, where is it done in the world? You know how he said those words with such a proud sadness that made us feel that those who suffered or died are strangers to this world then, loudly under the spell of his own Joy he pronounced the social media liars because the shackles of our brutality were not broken on the soil of Lagos but in America and Europe where our own Children are running to when this land has everything in stock for them to equip themselves daily.

When next someone tells you how bad Nigeria is, tell the person that Nigeria has been turned into Paradise. Tell him to visit and testify himself. He should know that we no longer experience hardship and brutality by the Police force. The standard and cost of living is accommodating over here. Agriculture has return to its normal position. More Pyramids are being built in the north with the money the government made from selling of Groundnuts. More Cocoa houses are being built all over western states with the money gotten from Cocoa farming. We no longer depend in Oil. Nigeria Government has cut down the proud hands of the Southerners. Nobody depends on their Oil to develop Nigeria anymore. When next someone tells you any bad thing about Nigeria, tell the person that NTA no longer function like the Television station his father witnessed in the fifties. NTA has become one of the best television stations in the world. If he doubts you, let him visit. When next you hear them gossip about how bad Nigeria is, tell those gossiping that Nigeria has changed. Be intentional with your words. Do not panic, the Easterners have started growing more palm trees and soon, Malaysia would have no options than to return to Nigeria to buy more oil and Palm kernels from us. Tell them that we no longer use Generators in Nigeria, tell them that they no longer need to worry about the petrol price and Telecommunication tariff. MTN, Glo, Airtel and 9mobile expensive tariff are no longer like before. Things have changed over here and we are happier now.

In my childhood hour of darkness, I’ve listened to Mum waiting for my response about her story on how to give out a smile for broken Nigerians. She once said to me: 

“Some people are too tired to give a smile. So, give them one of yours as none needs a smile as much as he who has no more to give”.

But the night and the wind defeated us both in her story. We could not fix ourselves to listen to our spirits or the sound of our heart beats. From mouth to mouth we spoke to each other, from one side of the street to the other, we allowed our spirits to take a walk to unknown places. I’ve listened with horror as the wind blew the names of those who talk bad about the good things the government have been doing. I’ve listened in my childhood hour as the names eventually flowed towards Nigerian enemies’ compound and echoed faintly down their streets before passing away into silence. I somehow gave the feeling that we have lost the connection between what some of us are and what we understood as Nigerians. I always give the impression that some of us have been bashed on the head and that the centre of our knowing had been dislocated if some of us cannot understand that these men ruling us have the experiences to lead us into the future and we don’t have the experiences they have as Youths. 

“Don’t look at me confused” I had told a girl sitting beside me during mother’s tale. “Don’t look at me as if you had entered the wrong room and had no idea how to get out again. This is the Nigerian dream. Rejoice because you are a Nigerian and Nigerians are happy People”

Recently, the Youths chased one of our fathers away to France in chaos and chased him back to the country, i became angry with them. What kind of humans are they? Is that how they were brought up by their parents? Why won’t they allow him to go to France to rest his brain after the commotion they all caused in the land? That night i watched a video of him running, it was a night without memory for me. It was a night replaying its corrosive recurrence on the road of our lives, on the road which was never hungry for great transformations. Why do they have to chase a man of that Calibre in the street of France? Didn’t they know how powerful he is in Lagos and in the West? A whole Jagaban of Lagos? That aside, why did the Youths have to go to the Oba’s house to steal his Sceptre? Why did they have to open that Casket that he stored our money? Jesus! And for those palliatives warehouses across the country?  Are those food stuffs not meant for tomorrow usage? Why do you have to eat what was meant for tomorrow today? Okay, since you have eaten it today, what are you going to eat tomorrow? 

However, that Thursday night after I watched our father spoke to us, i looked into his eyes through my Television. His eyes were remembering and there was a faint smile on his lips. I stayed out till the evening began to distribute itself across the sky. I wondered how great he is to us. How he has made everything beautiful in his own way. I appreciated his muted spirit all these while the protest was going on. I applauded his leadership. He looked like he would never recover from the shock of a certain kind of self-knowledge and the Grace God has bestowed on him as a great leader of this wonderful land. May his reign be forever.

Now, my spirit companions are drinking of my Joy and they have filled me with sweet songs to make my happiness more sublime. I have forgotten that Tuesday that my heart stopped beating. That Tuesday I froze, became rigid, didn’t breathe, my mouth opened, eyes wide; darkness rushed over me, a powerful wind from the oceans. Today, the blessed joy of being a Nigerian extinguished my consciousness and I am sure I’m on the wrong clothing. Soon, we will be merely a detail in the hands of poverty in this Land.

DECLAIMER: This Writer is a Nigerian and a patriotic Nigerian. He has no Identity except the one given to him by the second-class boys.

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