by Joel Ighalo
The sixties will forever remain remarkable to Nigeria whenever the topic of her history is broached. The year, 1960 Anno Domini, will also remain remarkable to many an African country. It was referred to, in Cyprian Ekwensi’s Divided We Stand, as Africa’s Year of Independence. In the year, 1960, there was hope that Nigeria would make great strides, attain great heights and take its place among the comity of nations who call the shots in international politics. Now, we cannot say that Nigeria has fared well, by virtue of the fact that many of the countries she shared common potentialities with in 1960, have left her behind.
I am quite sure many of these countries still preserve memories of how the journey began in the form of parks, sites, monuments etc. For instance, almost, if not all the states which make up the United States of America have a statue of George Washington. In Britain, among other historical references, there is the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Veritable examples abound even in African countries who take the business of nationhood seriously. Nigeria might not have gotten it right with respect to her progress as a country bound in freedom, however, there is still our shared story which ought to be told with the creation of parks, the fashioning of stones into the likeness of our heroes and founding fathers who stood up for this country.
I daresay it is quite unfortunate that Nigerians seem to have no sense of history; from the bourgeoisie to the proletariat. It would appear that, right from 1960, when she entered the dance of independence on faltering steps, her bones are yet to grow strong, so she still clings onto something for support. I stand to be corrected but I am not sure if the birth places of our founding fathers have been made into a tourist destination. And by virtue of the fact that students only read about them in books; in secondary institutions where the subject of history is still taught; they become too abstract to relate with.
Now we know that Lagos State used to be the Federal Capital Territory and Dodan Barracks in Obalende was once the seat of military might. Since the Federal Government deemed it expedient to move the Country capital to Abuja, it appears that the federal buildings in the former capital have fallen into stark desolation. In fact, squatters are said to have secured residence in some of these buildings. This formed the topic of discussion in Citizen Jones’ talk show, Kubanji Direct on Radio Continental. It is needless to say that such buildings ought to be preserved for the sake of posterity.
However, there happens to be the reawakening of our national consciousness through the instrumentality of the movies that are produced nowadays. Take, for instance, movies like 76, Half of A Yellow Sun, and October 1. These are movies that remind us of our colonial past, the beginning of our journey as a republic, the good old days, and the glory days. We could do well to acknowledge the past in order to shape the future for posterity. The famous words of George Santananya comes to mind that “those who will not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Need I say more?
Joel Eghosa Ighalo is an International Law student, Historian, Reader and a Nigerian dedicated towards the maximisation of the country’s potentialities. He tweets @_empighalo
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