As a Nigerian in the diaspora, my connection to home is sacrosanct; its where I was born, grew up, went to school for the most part. I have friends and family there, my father died and is buried in Lagos- the former state capital- memories of home are fond and treasured.
If you have ever met a Nigerian you will know that we are quite simply put, one of a kind; resilient, expressive, ebullient… We are deeply connected by what it is to be Nigerian, and we gather in that unique spirit of Nigerian-ness, because of our connection to home. But as a country, Nigeria is soul crushing; the establishments of power have let the people down.
I am going to borrow the format of Childish Gambino’s song, This Is America, to tell you a little bit about the struggles of Nigerians, whose daily lives are always at an extreme, even more so in a year defined and characterised by extremities. The events of the past few months and the many injustices witnessed, have left an indelible impression upon us, and we are forever changed by them. The status quo simply can no longer continue as is.
This is Nigeria today;
The “giant” of Africa, that is still unwilling, not unable, to provide basic amenities for its citizens. Infrastructures that should aid the day to day are non-existent: good roads, power, basic health care, affordable safe housing…Everything is a struggle. Everything!
This is Nigeria, where colonialism thrives in the hands of the military rulers of colonial times, who shed their cloak of terror to step into power as civilians but maintain the style of rule of their colonial masters. The poor are steeped deeper into poverty and oppression, the rich maintain their hold on power and have no interest in the progress of the people or the country.
This is Nigeria, where politicians don’t go into politics to do right by the people, they go into the “business” of politics to make money, as much as possible before passing it on to the next politician to turn their own profit. Governing is a profit-making venture where embezzlers get their fill.
This is Nigeria, where Law and Order is a front for criminality. Men in uniform, SARS, clash with civilians because they drive good cars, have mobile phones, walk a certain way, have a particular hair style etc. the only way you can leave is to pay and even so, leaving alive is not guaranteed. They do this with barbaric impunity without fear or expectation of punishment.
This is Nigeria, where plane crashes are attributed to the work of God by an aviation minister, who cannot commit to the safety of passengers in the future by improving the aviation industry. Of what worth is the average Nigerian to them anyway?
This is Nigeria, where electricity, (a basic and fundamental infrastructural need) is a luxury commodity. Most houses run on generators because they do not expect to have uninterrupted supply of electricity. A country where fuel scarcity is the norm, despite being an oil rich nation.
This is Nigeria, where it can take up to eight years to finish a four-year course at University because the lecturers are constantly going on strike- mostly due to lack of pay by the government.
This is Nigeria, where feminism is non-existent; women’s rights are tethered to the patriarchy. Rape and domestic violence against women is only now being criminalized because of efforts and pressure applied by female lawyers advocating for justice in such crimes.
As a Nigerian it is heart-breaking to write these, but they are truths no less. The realities of living this every day, is one I cannot imagine, but am aware of. Every day for the average Nigerian back home is hard enough to crush one’s spirit, yet here they are with nothing more to lose, fighting a system that has given them next to nothing so far.
What Nigerians are protesting right now, is the right to live another day, to get on with the hardness of life. Forget the basic amenities, good roads, electricity, good education, basic healthcare, this is a fight for survival; to live to struggle another day. Imagine that.
So, if you have a voice, a platform, a medium, use it to amplify the plight of Nigerians. The camaraderie amongst the people is awe inspiring and hope inducing, and it only confirms that Nigerians are a phenomenal people. Let us hope the world shows up for us like it has for others. Amplify our hashtags to bring eyes to the protests, pray for us like it has many other countries facing atrocities, send donations, speak about it, post about it… no effort will go undiscounted.
For resources; follow the hashtag #ENDSARS #ENDSWAT on social media platforms to stay informed and involved in any way you can, no platform is too small, no voice too quiet, no message too irrelevant. Enough is enough.