When I was a kid, my elder brother and I had a lovely pastime. It was a pastime we never thought could leave us; and that’s if we never got to leave it. Today, I am not sure to what degree one has left the other. Today is Nigeria’s independence day (53rd celebration of this? Wow) and it is nostalgic. I’ll rather not stare at the television screens for too long. That’s because I do not want tears to run down my face the way they did when I was a kid, staring at the television screens on Nigeria’s Independence days. I cried, inwards to outwards and I wondered why my brother never cried – maybe he cried inwardly – every time we saw other children like us, probably not looking as fine as I thought I was, marching proudly to loud beats of drums and high pitched rendering of the Nigerian national anthem.
What worsened my condition was the very expectation of a knock every year’s Independence day, or the eve of it, by some person dressed in military or paramilitary style, pleading with my elder brother and I to join in the children’s parade for Independence. I thought after all, Nigeria was a country for us all. And all the children of the country were expected to march on special days like this. If not all, at least the bright ones like us. My brother and I were that ingenious (pardon the little note of pride in it. Just thought to report how I feel in retrospect) that we set aside a room in my father/mother’s house at the then Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria. This room became a country; a country we could call ours, very real as far as we were concerned, far removed from what people refered to as Nigeria – a country we never believed was real, just an imaginary idea as we were only able to imagine everything about the country Nigeria. So, we created our own country – Lupek, the exposition of which will be for another day (But for now, we should be content with the meaning of Lupek – Love, Unity, Peace, Endurance, Knowldege). These are virtues my brother and I still keep today. Don’t ask where we are now. We had a President, Governor of our Central Bank, Ministers etc. We created commodities to trade with (mindful of our national GDP). These items were drawn and cut-out pieces of paper; including most-importantly paper pigs, paper goats,blah blah blah. Our major national revenue source was BOILED MAIZE. We created our own paper currency too – The Lupe. There was enough of it – too much, maybe; a reality that dawned on us after our own World War and we were vanquished by the enemy. The enemy being an Uncle, who sternly asked that we cleaned up the room. We imagined what had gone wrong with this enemy? Did he know the gravity of work we had to put in to build our country, Lupek? Anyway, here we are. More interesting details kept for another day.
I also thought about that song almost all kids sang – that’s if you were not dumb. It goes thus:
Listen to your children.
pah pah pah (claps)
WE ARE THE LEADERS OF TOMORROW
pah pah pah
Try to pay our school fees
and give us sound eductaion.”
We were happy, always happy, when we sang that song. We believed in the lyrics, every word meant something important, something great to us. We believed one day, by virtue only of time, the song will come to reality.
So, every Independence day, we expected to join the other children marching for our country. We hoped to hear that knock on the door calling us to national assignment but it never came. Year in, year out. We hoped. We kept hoping on Independence days until it’s dusk and all the marching children got back to the waiting arms of their parents. We kept hoping. “Are these parents friends to people in power or are they also like my parents, dutiful in serving their country wherever they find themselves? Simple, obedient to government, Godly, going-their-own-ways?” Anyway, what mattered was that these other parents had their children march for Nigeria and I, my elder and I that is, never did. How else should a kid think?
As dusk came, we slept with our hope. We also had our march too. We marched in our dreams; maybe not for our country. But we had the opportunity to march; and march we did, in our dreams. That was several years ago but we never stopped hoping as we grew older.
Today, several years have passed. Nigeria is 53 years in age. If it were human, it should be nearing death by now. Those little children, who marched for Nigeria while we stared at television screens and marched in our dreams; many of them are still marching for Nigeria, albeit in a different way. Some are marching for Nigeria as Ministers (not the Christian ministers o, political, I mean), some as prepaid or postpaid government mouthpieces, propagandists, social media watchdogs and several other ways unknown to someone like me, who can’t accurately imagine what goes on in the corridor of power. They are still marching.
While they march even today, what do we do? People like me no longer imagine that we are the leaders of tomorrow. We now know there’s nothing called tomorrow. What we have is today. And whoever wrote that song…whoever did…I probably cannot tell certainly why he chose those words “LEADERS OF TOMORROW” but one can only guess that he intended that as long as you remain foolish, you’ll always believe that you’re a leader tomorrow, maybe not today. And since there’s never a tomorrow, you can never become a leader? Maybe not. Just an exaggeration. But the words may imply “While we are alive, we are the leaders of today. And after we must have died and gone tomorrow, then you too can be leaders; all of which are events for tomorrow, not today”.
A friend has this to say on nairaland. I snipped it for my beautiful-minded audience:
I’ll give an admonition to my colleagues, who also were always left before television screens in those days watching march pasts, while children of similar ages, with obviously one head and not two, march for Nigeria; and who today have again been left before television screens watching the modern march pasts (the grown children hitting themselves in National assembly, or as they are being caught on the streets, raping, stealing, for internet fraud, political or socioeconomic hara-kiri. You’ll be amazed at the number of the elite class, who are caught in-between vices of such). I’ll give a simple admonition.
Hardwork, discipline, focus, faith, knowledge, wisdom, subtlety and/or violence if need be are items you should shop for next time you visit the grocery store. Are you with me? Good.
Happy independence to you and yours.
From the team @lAkUnLeScReWs…have fun.