By Faith Egonna Ojiaka
To be Nigerian is to be filled with hope each and every day, despite prevailing circumstances. No wonder we are said to be the happiest people in the world. We are resilient and fearless of change. Through thick and thin, our people have endured the storm of life for decades and we still do so today. No matter what part of the world we inhabit, our communal nature brings us together like the adhesive coconut husk to its hardy shell.
With over 250 ways to say hello, our country tops the chart for cultural diversity. Each part of Nigeria distinguishes itself as a unique world of its own. Despite our cultural diversity, we have common ideals of the importance of family, dignity and good morals. Yes, globalization has impacted our way of living but we continue to treasure our cultural identities with pride. As a Nigerian, I have an unwavering respect for my parents. They gave me everything; so that I could have a better life than they could ever have. I did not appreciate it when I was younger but now I understand the meaning of their love.
“Arise O Compatriots!” You know the words; those flowery words we sang with our hands proudly stuck to our sides as we marched into classes. I really believed those words to be true. One day, reality slapped me in the face and showed me the full reflection of my country. I will not repeat what you already know. What I will tell you is that we are capable of transforming Nigeria into a better society.
We should appreciate every member of our society regardless of class or tribal affiliations. We always seem to forget the importance of the diligent market woman who sells her wares at the market without fail, whether rain or shine. No man is an island and to refuse to acknowledge that we are all dependent on each other would be to lie to ourselves. Our nation will only prosper if we seek to find common values and uphold them, rather than wasting precious energy in trying to settle our differences.
Let the remembrance of our Independence as more than a celebration of mere formality. We should not stand back and let the fight of our past heroes be in vain. Let it be a time of deep thought and a renewed drive to re-furbish and improve our local communities and our Nation. As William Shakespeare said, ‘to thine own self be true.’ The truth is that we can no longer deceive ourselves anymore. It is time to put our actions where our mouths are.
We are always quick to point fingers. I am not saying it is not right to appropriate blame to the ‘guilty’ parties but by doing so, what have we achieved? We forget that a community is composed of individuals. You don’t have to be a person in a position of high power. Be a catalyst of change in your community and stand up for what you know is right. It is time to stop waiting and start ACTING. This journey will be a long and treacherous one, but it will be well WORTH it because I am Nigerian.
Faith Egonna Ojiaka
*Faith is a member of the I am Nigerian working team.