The nation right now is in the throes of ethnic bigotry, we spew hate, violence, and malice against each other on the basis of ethnicity all because we had an election, and we threw all caution to the wind.
What is a Nation
What makes us a unique nation, is not because we speak the same language or have the same cultural background, but our uniqueness is derived from the diversity that binds us together, and makes us strong, giving us a rich antecedent in the annals of history, creating a present that is spiced and a future that is promising. In the words of Deborah Day, “Our differences are an amazing gift of diversity, making this world a vibrant tapestry of cultures.”
If our diversity and differences bring vibrant colors to our world and nation, why the fear of subjugation by one tribe or region over the other? According to the great sage, the late Dr. Tai Solarin, “There’s no hope for a people who are enslaved, either by their own fear or by the fear imposed on them by others.” Why are we allowing fear to rule us? Why are we giving in to fear… and reacting in and to fear in our polity, in our interactions and engagements with people across all ethnic backgrounds?
Where and when is the origin of this fear?
I am of the opinion it started from the catastrophic fall out of the first military coup in January 1966. When it was inadvertently portrayed to be an ethnic based coup versus a nationalistic coup based on the desires and wishes of the five Majors that led the coup especially Major Kaduna Nzeogwu. And the counter coup of July 1966, and the fallout resulting in the Civil war with over One million dead, really inflamed and set the tone of what we have and have been experiencing till date.
Some will argue that it predates to the 1914 amalgamation by Lord Luggard, when he brought the Northern and Southern Protectorates together and the eventual christening with the name Nigeria.
This leads to the question, are we the only nation made up of different ethnic nationalities? Where is Canada, Australia, Malaysia, South Africa, India, Brazil, and United States… nations with different ethnic mix, culture, and customs yet provide a rich tapestry of different ideas, perspectives, and incredible insights and not at daggers drawn with each other as we are presently. Does this mean there are no occasional conflicts? Yes, there are, but the collective will and vision that binds them together holds sway and guides them into an amicable resolution without tearing each other down or heating up the polity.
Is there someone to blame for this malady that has befalling our nation? Any group to be held accountable?
There is no group or individual responsible other than we ourselves as individuals, in our respective climes and jurisdiction.
Embracing our diversity
There is a saying that, you can’t prevent birds flying over your head, but you can prevent them building nests on your head. The sad truth is, we have allowed ourselves to have nests of hate, bigotry, nepotism, and whatever ill that exists to be built on our heads. And I refer to the quote of Dr. Tai Solarin again that,” There’s no hope for a people who are enslaved, either by their own fear or by the fear imposed on them by others”. Why have we allowed fear of our diversity and differences rule over us and be a threat to our collective existence? Whence cometh the rhetoric that, if not the same homogeneity, then they must be discriminated and reviled against? According to Dave Donavan, “Diversity is not a liability, and homogeneity is not an asset. Diversity is a strength, and homogeneity is a weakness.”
Regardless of tribe, tongue, religion etc, God created all men and women equal…in fact, in the scriptures, Psalm 88:4-5 (AMPC), “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of [earthborn] man that You care for him? 5 Yet You have made him but a little lower than God [or heavenly beings], and You have crowned him with glory and honor.” This tells me that God did not discriminate when he created us as a people…why are we driving the narrative of discrimination and discord just to score cheap meaningless points and false propaganda? This is not animal farm where, “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” a testament to colonial mindset of the West that runs contrary to the original plan of creation and has right now, put the entire world in a mess with selective fulfilment and obedience to the original order of nature and a double standard in the field of morality and spirituality. (Topic for another day :))
The solution is not far-fetched, but it is going to be a journey of a lifetime of deliberate actions and steps to focus forward.
Case in point is Rwanda. I am sure we do not want to go through the horrors of what befell that nation in a space of 100 days in our nation due to divisive and flammable rhetoric of a tribe or ethnicity been superior to others. According to reports, the most widely accepted scholarly estimates are around 500,000 to 662,000 Tutsi deaths…in just 100 days in a single country…and it is believed to be more. Rwanda rose from this murky past to confront the demons of nepotism and tribalism and to make their nation, one nation under God with all people…been Rwandans…no Tutsi or Hutu but just Rwandan working for the betterment of their nation. Embracing their multicultural society and living together in harmony.
We need to take responsibility for our actions and inactions as individuals…the change begins with you as a person before you try to see it in another. And below are not in any way inexhaustible:
- We see ourselves foremost as One Nigeria….and not south, east, west or north. “To survive in peace and harmony, united and strong, we must have one people, one nation, one flag” Pauline Hanson
- The best of the country should lead, and we be deliberate to do away with nepotistic behaviour and sentiments for the country to develop. In the words of Tai Solarin, “It is the duty of every true nationalist to work hard for the development of his country.”
- We should join hands to build a nation worth living in without pointing to others to build it. In the words of Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
- We should take pride in our nation and stop bad mouthing, cussing, and cursing at it. According to Idowu Koyenikan, “Your pride for your country should not come after your country becomes great; your country becomes great because of your pride in it”.
- Let us, be worthy leaders that reflect the future we desire as individuals and as a people. “Show me the heroes that the youth of your country look up to, and I will tell you the future of your country” Idowu Koyenikan.
As we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ this weekend, let us bear in mind, that Jesus did not die on the cross for a particular race or ethnicity or select group of people. He died for all mankind…irrespective of status, tribe, tongue, religion race…just name it. Galatians 3:38, (AMP), “There is [now no distinction in regard to salvation] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you [who believe] are all one in Christ Jesus [no one can claim a spiritual superiority]. (Emphasis mine). If Christ did not discriminate when he died to save the world, why should we be doing likewise as a people?
President Nelson Mandela, during his presidential inaugural speech in Pretoria, South Africa on the 10th of May 1994, stated that;
“We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom. We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success. We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world. Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign.”
If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under. – Ronald Reagan