The Month I felt Proud to be Nigerian
and how political apathy may ruin us.
How are you doing? How was your week?
This week has been very busy for me. I am currently changing my accommodation, so my life has been crazyyy. Everything is in boxes, and I feel out of sorts. To make matters worse, school starts next week, and Lord knows I am not mentally prepared for that.
This week I planned to share something else with you guys. Drafted it and all, but it just didn’t feel right. Something kept tugging at the back of my mind, and that’s what I will be sharing instead.
I hope it resonates with you.
There are two strong feelings I have felt at some point in my life.
One: I don’t really like Nigeria.
Sure, we have Tems, and Jollof Rice, and the funniest people on Twitter. But other than how entertaining we can be, and how resilient, smart, and excellent (adjectives used especially when we leave the country, and win awards in white men’s countries) we are, so much about this country stresses me out.
Nothing works here. Nigeria feels like trying to get the cursor to move on a keypad covered with chocolate fingerprints, or trying to navigate a small car on a road full of potholes - unnecessary struggles to complete what should ordinarily be simple tasks. Everything requires effort to navigate. Activities as simple as walking on the pedestrian way can be difficult - because the roads are not well made, and we might step into mud, and a bike can whizz out of nowhere and slam into us. It drains me. And when I think of it, I don’t think my experience is very different from yours.
Two: The first time I felt proud to be Nigerian was during the EndSars protests, in October 2020.
Before then, Nigeria was simply a matter of fact. I was Nigerian because sometime in the 1800s, a group of European countries had gathered in Berlin to discuss a piece of land south of Europe, between the Atlantic and Indian oceans, and decide how to separate it; and Britain had placed a pin on what we now call Nigeria, demarcating across the lines of communities that had once existed before, the same way a petulant child draws lines over colourings made by his friend because they are finer than his.
I was Nigerian like the sun was the sun. There was nothing romantic about this state of being. I couldn’t relate to the pride with which my Venezuelan sports teacher would talk about his “amor del patria” and ask me if I loved the rain in Caracas. Or the way Americans on the internet spoke about their country like it was the rich parent funding the entire school.
I didn’t care much, either.
But that October, I felt plugged in. I felt a strange sense of pride, and hope. Every day, I would refresh my Twitter home feed and see something new, something miraculous. Food deployed to protesters in Surulere, 34 people released from the police, a young girl staring at the camera, eyes of liquid fire, saying: Buhari has been a very bad boy!” The country was a live wire. People were emboldened. The youths took to the streets, trying to reclaim a thing that had only ever spat on them.
I felt so happy to be Nigerian. I had always known we were resilient, and we were bold, and we had a strong sense of community, but I had never seen it in action, in that magnitude, to that extent. I didn’t know we had it in us to care that much about each other. It was the most amazing discovery.
And then it all ended, and our people were shot at the tollgate on Ozumba Mbadiwe, over and over again; and we all saw the picture of the flag stained with blood, and we held memorial services —a thousand glowing candles—and sang homages, and the government told us that what we saw that night was a mirage, that it didn’t happen and we had all been intoxicated by the need for change, and slowly, everything returned to normal.
I don’t know about you, but that experience was traumatizing for me. I think that was when I broke. It felt like it didn’t matter how much effort we made, or how much change we wanted, we were stuck in a maze and the only solution was to japa.
Someone once told me that leaving is the Nigerian dream.
Never heard anything so sad, yet so true.
And now we’re here again, days from another election, and I am scared that we have taken so many steps in the wrong direction, that trying to retrace our steps feels like a waste of time. Yes, we have horrible leaders who don’t care about us, and we have seen this film so many times, so we’re used to it. But is there really no room for better?
I think there might be, and I think we have a role to play.
Was scrolling through Twitter yesterday morning and realised that students comprised 27% of the total number of people who registered to vote this year, and somewhere somehow, that faint glimmer of hope I felt that October bloomed again.
27% can make a huge difference in this elections, and that’s what I want to hold onto. 27% can change our lives.
There’s no poetic way to put this: if you registered and you have not yet gotten your PVC, please go and get it. We have done this once, and we can do it again. We can try. Let’s vote in the right leader, so that maybe, just maybe, things will get better.
Finally, I don’t have to tell you to vote for Peter Obi, right?
Well, till next week. One love.
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Media I Consumed This Week:
Reading: All About Love by Bell Hooks. Started it last year and dropped it at some point, so I want to finish it. So far it has taught me how radicalizing love is, and how the presence or lack thereof can change social stratospheres.
Watching: Twenty Five Twenty One (I mentioned this in the first newsletter of the year). I have been crying like a mumu every episode, because it feels like life. Their challenges, their joys, their relationships - a masterpiece fr.
Listening: While taking a walk this week I realised that my music taste pretty much comprises of music I liked 4 years ago. I didn’t like feeling like I stay too much within my comfort zone, so I want to explore more. As a result, I have been listening to random ass playlists lately. I can’t think of anything new, but Hollywood by The Black Skirts is a great song.
And finally, a playlist for the Newsletter. This playlist is filled with songs I have recommended since the first letter was sent out, and will be updated each week. I know all the songs together are random asf, but that’s how being 20 something feels like, so enjoy!
Let me know if you like it!
Have the BEST week.
Get your PVCs!