by Onyeka Nwelue
Hello. I am from Nigeria, a nation of cowards.
The country where we let things go – we don’t like making troubles, but they keep coming to us. It is a country where we stage protests to make them look fashionable. It is a country where we script our future calmly; clearly underlining what tomorrow will look like.
We think of death here, but we don’t think we will die. And we believe there is Heaven and we all like it. But we don’t believe in Hell. We only say it exists. We say this, because we are scared of being burned, even though we do things that should send us to that same place. The bottom-line is: we never want to go there and nobody is ready to.
This is the sad story of a Nigerian.
For many months now I’ve been battling with myself. I have been listening to a lot of people and I feel very caged, because I gently swallowed up everything I’ve been told. You need to do this, because you are in Nigeria, so that things will not go wrong with you. But trust me; the more voiceless I become, the more things go wry and I begin to think that life on that edge I used to stand is better. We are a pretentious people, who are scared of the future, even though we keep talking about it. My people are scared of what you say today will do to you tomorrow. They are scared of being confronted tomorrow by what they’ve said in the past. For once, at the moment, it doesn’t make any sense at all to me. I’ve been told by so many people to calm down, to respect people’s opinions, to stop causing nuisance and flow with the tide, but I find myself dying in silence, listening to the heartbeat of others and walking in the shadows of others. I am living a fake life! I am. I am no more who I used to be. My life is no more transparent and I’ve lost my voice.
It could be cantankerous, yes! I have watched people stage protests that didn’t change anything. It was well organized. These protests had celebrities at the front. These protests were not well organized to achieve a certain purpose. They were organized to elevate some certain groups. They succeeded. I was forced to believe there was a change. There is no change. There was only a script carefully handled by people who have political ambitions. They had their interests at heart. They were working to save themselves. They were constructing their landscapes themselves and using ‘CHANGE’ as an excuse. I despise myself for believing them. I lost my voice. I didn’t speak out, because I trusted them. Now that there is no change in Nigeria, I don’t trust them.
Nigeria has no stable electricity. But there was a certain protest that was supposed to make the Presidency change its ways. Nothing has happened. What else should I believe will change in Nigeria when a certain protest that could have changed the fate of this country didn’t do anything and they still want me to believe there was change? Nothing. Nothing at all. Not even the educational sector! Not the water! Just now I realized that I lost my voice.
I am a Nigerian who gets robbed and the police meets my robber, smiles at him and comes back to me to say, ‘Don’t worry. Forget him. Just leave him.’ I am a Nigerian who is owned by an organization and when I openly demand for my money, I am told to not make it public, that I wasn’t the only one being owed. I am a Nigerian who thinks churches and mosques should be taxed, but I will be told to not ask for that, because these are houses of God.
Of course, Nigerians love and respect God so much, even as their God walked out on them long time ago and has let poverty and corruption brew in their midst. Someone steals your creative idea, which the public already knows, and you are asked to forget it, that certain ideas are distributed at same time. That if you spend time making trouble about that theft, it will be worthless. You give up, because you have the support of no one.
I have come to a conclusion to trust my instincts, to say it the way I want and feel at home with myself. By tomorrow, I shall be judged by keeping quiet. I shall be judged by letting weaklings rule me. I shall be asked why I didn’t speak up. Truth is that, I was silenced by people I trust to keep certain things to myself, but the power of change lies in the tongue – just like the change makers of India will never stage protests to achieve popularity, I have decided to face the world the way I see it and also sit at the same table with the consequences.
We all have one Life to live!
Onyeka Nwelue is editor of FilmAfrique.com