School: Graceland International School, Port Harcourt Rivers State
We sat down and I watched this queer man sitting in the dark. He spoke, his voice deep and calm “What I’m about to say, may seem confusing but in the end it will all make sense” He got up. Let me introduce myself. I am not a movie star pretending to live out the horror of my fight for the good of all Nigerians. I dare that which others fear to try and walk where angels fear to tread. I’ve seen it all and done it all. I know no boundaries, know no limitations and fear no one.” I frowned, still confused and asked, “So you are …?” He responded quickly. “I am patriotism personified. I am the patriot in you and every Nigerian. I stand tall and fearless, fighting for the nation. You see, a patriot is selfless, moving ahead for Nigeria’s greatness. He is loyal and determined in a diehard mentality, never giving up. A patriot can be loved passionately or hated intensely, depending on what side of the divide you are on. This is because of the boundless and suicidal energy with which he tenaciously and uncompromisingly pursues and crusades his belief in the untrammeled rue of law, undiluted democracy, all embracing and expensive social justice, protection of the fundamental human rights and respect for the dreams and aspirations of the masses who are victims of the mis governance of the affairs of the nation.” He paused, “A patriot will most likely be called stubborn, but is not irrational, a radical, yes, but focused. Definitely heady, but never in pursuit of selfish interest. He is tough and courageous; he’s got personal conviction to speak his mind. To a patriot, Nigeria is everything. There are very few who are willing to give their lives for a country like Nigerian, a society so deeply embedded in corruption and oppression. Few who see a ray of light at the end of the dark tunnel this country is in, few whose heart beat for a beautiful Nigeria.
Some of those are the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Wole Soyinka, Tai Solarin and Fela Kuti.” I smiled and sensed he was smiling too. “Stares to conscience, patriot are. They are human beings whose love for Nigeria took them a step further. Bottles in the necks and thorns in the sides to those ruthless politicians. They didn’t mind the incarceration; they went through so many travails and emerged with renewed vigor, calm and intrepid and unshaken. You may ask how? Why? They had a vision for their beloved Nigeria.”
I had to admit I was impressed and challenged by what he’d said. So, I spoke up, “I think I understand what you are trying to say but I fail to see how it relates to me.” He moved out of the shadow and sat beside me.
“Ah, the question I have been waiting for. You want to know why I said all this. Hmm, let me see… Patriots like the men I mentioned have two glaring facts in common with you. One, they are humans, two, they are Nigerians. “I nodded and he went on “Patriotism is not just about singing the National anthem or saying the pledge. The words are important, yes, but only because they are there to stir you up, to give birth to actions, to make you a reliant warrior for Nigeria, though not necessarily with arms.” He winked at me “there’s only one thing that could move you or anyone for that matter to achieve such feat and that is love; pure, unadulterated, selfless love and trust me, that’s hard to find these days. The quintessential patriot fights injustice whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head and in a country like Nigeria, that, my dear is suicidal flirtation with the crushing powers of the state. You may say that the era of unexplained incarceration is gone with the military. But look around you, injustice and oppression operates very well in Nigeria.
Some say we need a Marshal, I say we need a Patriot.” I turned to look into his eyes and I saw the Love he was talking about in his eyes. The silence seemed to stretch for eternity before he spoke again. “I have through many patriots, some dead but I am still searching, searching for my next vessel. Will it be you? Rise up and accept the challenge!” I woke up and looked around me, surprisingly; it had all been a dream. It may have been a dream, but the message was clear. A patriot’s war is never fought with arms but with a pen, just like the one I’m holding.