Temitope Shittu-Alamu: Broken, battered but brave; ode to the Nigerian people

We are our own government. We generate our own light, hustle for our own water, buy our own dogs for security, and patch our bad streets with gravels and stones…

In January, after the fuel subsidy removal strike had ended, I stopped a cab to finally get out of the house. It was an official green and white Abuja cab, driven by an obviously Yoruba driver. He had facial marks all the way to his ears and a King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall track was blaring from the stereo. When he said to me; “do you haff shange?” I smiled, “oh yes! I haff shange.”  What wasn’t so amusing was that he had upped the fare from the usual ₦500. 

Once I settled into the passenger’s seat, he began a conversation;

“Aunty, dis Nigeria ehn, it will still be beta o.” I laughed, “Like tell me about it.” The strike was over but there was still tension in the air. So I wondered what this man was seeing that I wasn’t.

I pondered on the state of things in the country. I reflected on the lies and backstabbing of the government. I pondered on the plight of the hungry Nigerian people who have nothing left to swallow but their pride. I remembered the tragic UN building bomb blast where I lost a loved one. So I wondered again what this cab man was seeing. What kept that glimmer of hope alive?

Mind rambling, the thoughts played out steadily. About folks walking miles to fetch water that were barely drinkable and avoidable deaths on the highway because the money for fixing the road has been shared by a few. Young people almost give up on life and living because of strikes, and Nigerians deteriorating in hospitals because of the anemic health care system.

But then, it hit me – despite all these we have survived. In enduring hardship we gained strength and thrived. Never mind inflation, we have drunk our garri without groundnut or sugar but still have agile Olympian bodies to show for it. Amongst us are graduates who studied with candles and rumbling tummies but can match their counterparts anywhere in the world. We have been forced to mature and grow up without any support.

We are our own government. We generate our own light, hustle for our own water, buy our own dogs for security, patch our bad streets with gravels and stones so we can drive through. We don’t know when Boko Haram will strike again but we still diligently go to work and conduct our businesses. Muslim brothers keep watch of Christians and Christians do the same in fear of violence, but as the only means to secure ourselves.

We have been through it all and still we stand. Perhaps this is the hope on the cab man’s face and that of countless other Nigerians—that it can never get worse than this. I dare to call us heroes, because only heroes stand defiant against all odds.

As I flag another green and white cab to go home, my thoughts are about some who died unfortunately in the struggles, but how the rest of us have kept the faith. We continue to smile and hope, perhaps to ensure that those who died did not die in vain. Whatever reason it is we hope, we have survived together and for this I am very proud.

I observe at the cab man and this time he is Hausa with no facial marks, there is no music from his stereo and there is no conversation between us. But as I inhale the signature aboki mallam’ scents, I am overwhelmed with hope. I smile and think to myself; “this Nigeria ehn, it will still be beta o…”



Temitope Shittu-Alamu, is a writer, an eclectic public speaker and master of ceremonies with a degree in History and International Relations. Passionate about the media and of a strong believe that “it is my platform to building the Nigeria of my dreams”. I host a yearly Christmas show on television.

I love God, I love people.

Did I mention that I love garri. Wow, it keeps me going. BLOG;

TWITTER; @eclectictope.



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Comments (4)

  1. Ejiro, you make a valid point about the outliers but invalidate it the follow up. I've seen many average Nigerian students who struggled away with 2-2's from our Universities graduate at the top of their classes with excellent grades.

    Our conditions are crappy, the people are not. I work for a very large multinational. Nigeria is a net exporter of engineering talent and the black expatriate population is overwhelmingly Nigerian. Nigerians who schooled in Nigeria. I don't think they are all outliers.

  2. Thank God that you now unleashing your potentials against all odds. U can now get the major reason why I name u STAR @ the beginning of last year. That can be useful as a great stage name. U might not be able to change the country directly but I guaranty you to stand as a catalyst that will spur peoples' mind for desired change.

  3. I am eager to the Nigerian graduate that can compete globally……… And please do not point to the outliers amongst us who will excel academically irrespective of conditions.

    Aside from our crappy educational system, Nigerians in all levels of education locally are intellectually lazy.

  4. Tope,

    you write well(Who am I to say sef?) but you confuse hope and resignation. Nigerians are resigned to their fate is what it is, not hopeful. Hope enlightens, encourages but have you noticed the increasing number of suicides nowadays? I am severely worried that the low expectations we have as a people has been further reduced to the point where people have no expectations at all.

    I am very hopeful(?) but very worried becos while I see a people impoverished by their rulers(?), I see no affirmative action to end the bad leadership and that's why I know what you call hope is resignation. Hope stands up and takes action, resignation talks about it getting better by some magical power. Hope looks up and demands change, resignation believes that change will eventually happen. Hope rises and in little but certain ways makes resignation impossible by its doing,resignation rolls over and waves goodbye to hope.

    No, I dont see hope, I see resignation and that's just a pity. For anyone to think these …….(I will not swear,so help me God!) whatever they are,will suddenly grow a conscience becos anyone says so is delusion. To imagine they will suddenly begin to do right is to believe that spontaneous combustion or whatever its called by evolutionists is what brought the world into being and I have the same response….Balderdash!

    Its time to wake up and do the needful which seems to be the only thing that Nigerians are unable to do. We are able to outsmart people of their money but let others outsmart us of ours. We are able to demand rights of everyone except those we should. My dear, if this was just for entertainment, forgive my ranting….that seems to be all those who write do nowadays, entertain, while the need for articulate call to arms is required, we entertain, resigned.

    And BTW, thumbs up on the gari! I like you already!

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail