Happy Birthday, Nigeria

Tomorrow is October 1 when Nigeria turns fifty! I have been of the mind that there isn’t much to celebrate, and the news from home does very little to cheer one up: fifteen nursery school pupils kidnapped in Aba; billions of naira earmarked for the anniversary celebrations in Nigeria; cholera outbreak in the north of Nigeria.

Yet, the BBC World Service persists in running series of programmes around Nigeria. I have been too distressed to listen to them but today, driving one of my sons to his piano lessons, I caught Alhaji Maitama Sule on ‘Memories’. There was so much joy in his voice when he spoke of the day Nigeria gained her independence. He was thirty years old, the youngest member of the new cabinet. He spoke of the dreams and the hopes those who were witness to the hoisting of the Nigerian falg that day in Lagos, had for the newly independent country. I envied him hi sjoy. I envied him his memories of acountry which was as close to perfection as ny country could be. More than that, Ienvied him his optiimism – despite having seen Nigerian go through coups and countercoups; a civil war, military dictatorships, keptomaniac regimes – that Nigeria will one day fulfil its lost promise. Perhaps one needed to have been witness to a great Nigeria to have the capacity to harbour such ambitious dreams for the Nigeria of today.

God bless Nigeria. God bless us all.