School: Mount St. Gabriel’s Secondary School, Benue
16 Years, Male
It came like an explosion when I encountered what every other writer such as myself encountered-a writer’s block. It is a situation whereby ideas stop flowing and a writer has no idea on what to write about. For days I watched the news and read the newspaper, but the noise of the city proved worse than the writer’s block. So I took a trip to the village.
The village was better, but I was still as blank. My brother Segun, advised me to see a herbalist to help me relax. Reluctantly, I agreed. The herbalist’s cubicle stood right in the middle of the village. Once I was seated in it, the aged herbalist brought out a pot of leaves and set them on fire. The room was filled with a hypnotic scent that made me relax and gradually, I fell asleep. I clearly remember the dream that followed.
The dream took place in a clearing in a forest. I was seated on the low grass, facing a tall tree. An aged man whom I did not recognise appeared from behind the tree.
“Who are you?” I asked him.
The man said, “I am the forgotten past.” This reply was confusing. The man added, “Don’t worry. Everything may seem confusing, but when I am done, you will understand better.”
I was silent, gesturing for him to continue. And pointing at the tall tree, he said. “This tree here is over a hundred years old, yet little or nothing is known of the people who watered it in its entire years.”
The man’s choice of words startled me and I said, “But a tree such as this needn’t be watered when it has the rain.”
The man cleared his throat and said, “Left to the rain; this tree would not have stood as firmly as it does now. There were great men and women in the past who sacrificed themselves and their time to ensure that this tree would stand forever.”
Slowly, I began to make little sense of the old man’s words. He didn’t let me speak, he continued saying, “This tree bears the fruits that feed this whole village. Now that the people do not water and take care of it, it has began to wither. The people need to be reminded about the importance of watering the tree.”
“And how can this be done?” I asked.
The man said, “It can be achieved by letting the people know about the great men and women in the past who watered the tree –“
“So that they would have the motivation to do some, “Now you know what must be done.”
I woke up from the dream feeling strange. Back at my home, I began to put the pieces of the puzzle together and I got it! The tree represented Nigeria, about to enter hundredth year of existence (since she was amalgamated in 1914), and the fruits represented Nigeria’s wealth.
The old man represented the past Nigerian heroes. Sadly, just as the people who watered the tree in its early years have been forgotten, so are the past Nigerian heroes who gave Nigeria a firm foundation. Since the people do not practice patriotism in their hearts, they do not water the tree. And Nigeria would lose her wealth and become a lost paradise.
Furthermore, just as the people can be encouraged to water the tree by letting them know about the great men and women who did it in the past, so can we Nigerians be motivated into patriotism by learning of the selfless deeds of our great heroes.
When I returned to the city, there was an influx of ideas on what to write. I decided to write a book about the Nigerian past heroes, so that when people read it, they would be encouraged to follow in the footsteps of our past heroes and restore Nigeria from being a lost paradise. The title of my book would be called Memoirs for Our Future.