School: Lead City High School, Jericho. Oyo
14 Years. Female
‘Ola a da o, tomorrow will be better’
“Arise! O Compatriot, I dare you to dream the Nigerian dream…Arise!”
It used to hurt you; The pain of a pregnant woman whose stomach was cut into two by an aggressive robber, the hurt of a mother who watched the soft white tissues of her sons brain roll out as he was shot in the head by his drunk father, the anger of children who depend on Lizard flesh to fill their abnormally swollen stomachs, the humiliation of a man who was publicly beat up by his wife, the disappointment and fear of a girl who was raped by that man who called her ‘aburo’ (young one). That was all you saw no matter how deep you looked, no matter where you looked. But when you convinced yourself that colored people have no right to sorrow, it all changed – and you forgot you were afraid of the dark.
That night – the night of the eve of Christmas – everything was quiet, silent. You bore through the her with your gaze, suddenly! Your mind become clear, you were in a new world, a world where you knew you could dare great feat. You forgot what you thought just few seconds ago, you forgot all the hurt.
All you saw was her infinite beauty, her immeasurable elegance, her ultimate perfection. The sky with glowing starts shone right above her, the darkened green grass beneath her. The earth shook as the oil underneath her reached its maximum.
In her, great giant buildings arose. Around her, bright street lights shone. Living beings – with no sense of frustration or alienation went around happily, beings bound together by a strong clasp that seemed unbreakable. You stood there in awe, in wet tears you tried hard to suppress – you remembered all her heroes, all their unrelenting labour.
“Oh Great Spirit”, you whispered “this is my Future Nigeria”
You saw a country where we are not afraid to dream and hope and pray and admit our daily weaknesses. A country where our faces are not often wet with our own tears, where we are not deafened by our own silence. A country where tension does not fill the air as we wait for the next election when our ‘saviour’ might come, you saw a country where we, the people, are our own saviours. You saw a country where we do not eat only when we starve, a country with beautifully tarred roads, where being ill is not a death sentence, where education is a priority. You saw a country where we are not divided into social classes, a country with God-fearing leaders, a country that can never be misrepresented. You saw a country that rose above the horrors of her past to become one worthy of celebration.
You saw a country where Papa Emeka does not wake up to brag about his non-existing American visa. A country where Papa Sagir does not wake up to curse the government, the economy, the flies around and every other thing ‘cursable’, where he does not complain about how it all just seems so fake, the idea that good things happen to good people or that there’s magis in the world and the meek and righteous would inherit it. You saw a country where Iya Kudirat, Papa Emeka and Papa Sagir tell Kudi, Emeka and Sagir that ‘Ola a da o; tomorrow will be better’. And they said it like tomorrow owed them something, ah! Like tomorrow promised it will come.
When you get this Nigeria, when we get this Nigeria, only then can the Igbos rise and say ‘alu agwugo’, then the Hausas would come together and shout ‘aikiyakare’ , the Yorubas would put on their head ties and say ‘Isetitan’ , the English man will mutter in surprise, ‘Mission accomplished’
You said to a passer-by, “I am the new Nigeria! you are the worthy Nigeria! and together, we are the perfect Nigeria!!”. He looked at you like you were insane and you know you were indeed Mad About Nigeria! And you said to him “Arise! O you worthy compatriots and be the first to obey Nigeria’s call…because only you can!
You awoke from your sleep to the sweet smell of a mimosa pudica. You went downstairs to celebrate Christmas with your family. As you ate your Iyan and Egusi soup, you did not remember anything about your dream. You remembered nothing at all. But you knew you had to remember your dream. You knew you owed it to your fellow countrymen to write about that dream, that country you saw, the moirs for our future. and you promised to remember everything tomorrow, if tomorrow comes.
Everyone looked at you as you smiled radiantly to yourself and you looked at them the way you looked at that man in your dream. You knew they would not know, you knew they would not understand – how mad you are about Nigeria