On reflection on the coming milestone in Nigeria in the coming days, I came to the conclusion that one of the biggest drawbacks in the national progress till date is the poor handling of the country’s diverse ethnicity condition. For many years, I’ve wondered what it would have been like to live in the times of Tafawa Balewa, and Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Obafemi Awolowo, and the many other earlier nationalists that struggled for the nation’s independent many times from ethnic, but for the most part from nationalistic, standpoints. Eventually, I get to wondering how things could have gone wrong.
Tafawa Balewa remains one of my most admired men of those times not because I knew him, but because I didn’t, and because he was killed for no reason I could easily understand. And because he was one of the brilliant educated northerners who managed to get into the position of authority. And he was a simple man. Yet he was killed. Azikiwe was another one who became the opposition leader in a Western House of assembly in 1952 as a Nigerian and not as an Igbo man. When I think back to how things could have been different if the first coup hasn’t happened, or how things could have been if the coup had been bloodless, or if it had not had an ethnic slant, I sigh and get back to doing something else. Because I wonder if something beautiful and great could have evolved.
On invitation, I have written a post on my reflections on Independent Nigeria at 50 for the Nigerianstalk.org website. There are a few new posts there also by other Nigerian bloggers and I cherish the opportunity to join those distinguished folks in sharing my thoughts with the new generation of Nigerians to whom the future belong. I am not feeling as giddy as the government wants me to feel about these celebrations just yet, not surprisingly. I guess it’s because the country wasn’t born in 1960 anyway, and neither were those who had evolved their different ways of living together even long before any foreign forces stepped foot on the land area we now call our own. If 50 years of independence from the British could still be counted as an achievement, I guess it is a memorable milestone. In any case, check out the Nigeria@50 post series on Nigerianstalk and leave comments when you can.