Nigeria celebrated independence day yesterday and a lot of people did not fail to raise their flags cheering for the country. The ubiquitous green and white attire on social media and the streets was sheer evidence that Nigerians truly love their country. Even churches didn’t fail to celebrate (well my church. I can’t speak for everyone) as we sang the National anthem during the service and rounded up with the National pledge. I couldn’t help but laugh and give side eye to some people who were unable recite the second stanza of the national anthem without stumbling on their words. Silly me!
It’s undeniable that Nigerians love their country and we should celebrate 57 years of liberation but I’ll be brutally honest, there’s really nothing worth celebrating if you ask me. Not that I like to be pessimistic…I’m simply facing reality.
Since I visited Rwanda in May, a lot has shifted in my orientation. I find myself always referring back to this country in my thoughts whenever I see something wrong with the way things are done here. They’ve come a long way in rebuilding the country since the genocide in 1994 and I’m super impressed at their progress in just 23 years. This country is a lesson for anyone to learn from-be it country or an individual and below are some of the things we can learn from them:
Rwanda is very safe. I mean EXTREMELY safe!!! I couldn’t help but admire how cautious the Moto taxis were. And even more surprising, they have indicators and Helmets are a must. If you are used to taking Okadas in Nigeria, you’ll probably marvel at how much safety measure is considered if you decide to take one in Rwanda. My German host further establishes how safe Rwanda is;
“This country is safer than all the places I’ve ever lived in Germany.”
Yes! Rwanda is that safe and my German host was right. I remember a friend’s mum whose purse was stolen in Munich and left her stranded. Money, passports and ID cards all gone. She had to borrow money from a friend to get to the Nigerian embassy in Berlin and get a temporary passport to get back home. Imagine her frustration.
Now how safe is Nigeria if I may ask?
If any country in Africa is really tackling environmental issues, that would be Rwanda. I was stopped at the airport because my bag was wrapped with Plastic wrap which is not allowed the country (If only they knew how much plastic bags I had in the bag itself). A glimpse of the landscape and you’ll see loads of trees in almost every nook and cranny. Everything I bought at local supermarkets was put into paper bags. Even my cold ass bottle water got a paper bag…No one cares if it gets soggy! As long as the environment is being protected.
Well, better take soggy that have your mattress floating in water. Thanks to apathy and largely irresponsibility, we don’t see the need to take care of our environment. People trash freely like it’s a right and let’s not even go on to count the number of generators we have in Lagos alone. Imagine the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere daily. I can go on and on about the environmental issues in Nigeria but I’ll just leave it here.
Unity And Oneness
The 1994 genocide is a huge factor for this. After the whole Tutsi ethnicity was almost wiped out, there was some sort resolution I presume and the people decided to live as one… There is nothing like Tutsi or Hutu just Rwandans. Not exactly the case with Nigeria. Igbos are still blaming Yorubas for supporting Hausas and the blame game goes on and on. MOVE ON PEOPLE!!!! Like seriously!!!!! Can we get over this shit of someone is supporting someone and someone is back stabbing someone. Is it truly impossible that we can all live in peace??? I mean we don’t all necessarily have to be madly in love with each other but we need to learn to live and work together in peace. I think part of the problem is that we don’t discuss and reflect on our past as much as we should. I don’t know why the story of the civil war is not discussed in schools. Not even sure there’s any documentary on the civil war made by Nigerians. Talking about the past is not to cause more problems but to learn from it and make sure history doesn’t repeat itself but unfortunately, the mistakes of the past seems to be creeping back into the present.
I was dazed at the level of trust exhibited by Rwandans. In my hotel in Gisenyi, we were told to pay at our convenience before we check out. Same was the case for my walking tour at Nyamirambo. No one was in a hurry to get/extort money off us and I found this extremely weird considering where I’m coming from. An average Nigerian has trust issues. Just take a look at the so called leaders who we trusted to turn things around. Need I say more?
The fact that you walk on the street and not find one single piece of crap is so SURREAL!!! You’d even be scared to drop your trash even if it’s second nature to you. Cleanliness they say is next to Godliness but it still baffles me how much Nigerians see it as appealing to drop trash as they see fit and head to that special program to bind and cast all the enemies that refuse to make Nigeria move forward. How about the enemy within?
Despite all my complaints and rant, I still have hope. Hope that Nigeria will change for better. But it starts with every individual. It starts with us taking that firm decision not to break that traffic rule or throw trash on the ground. That conscious effort to remove any for of prejudice about a particular tribe or ethnic group. I’m not saying it’ll be easy and I still struggle with doing some of these things but the journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step.
Think about it!