Since time immemorial, people have been known to die for all kinds of causes – some religious, political, personal, emotional, social, economical etc. As far as I know, only Jesus died for the world and by the world, I mean for all the human beings in the world and not for the terrain. Martin Luther King died for his belief in his cause to stop racial discrimination against black Americans; Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison as the cost for South African freedom from white oppressive rule; some starve themselves to death and others like the more extreme suicide bombers - who do not like to die alone - blow themselves to shred (the most unpalatable form of death) because they too feel they have a cause worth dying for. Some go willingly to their deaths, others go unwillingly, and nevertheless, they sacrifice something of significant worth to them and their society.
Recently, I was involved in a very heated argument about whether we Nigerians could die for Nigeria or not, and at the end of the day, many concluded that there was nothing in Nigeria actually worth dying for. Everyone had an opinion about what they could die for and why.
I told everyone to offer examples of what they could die for and why. Some of the reasons included:
1. I love my kids therefore I can die for them
2. I love my mom very much, I can die for her
3. My father spent his life building our farm, if anyone tries to take it away from me, I swear, I go kill am!
4. I am a die-hard catholic by birth, if anyone touches my religion, I am ready to fight o.
5. My husband no dey play with me, if anyone go near am, na trouble be that
6. My wife, my brother
7. My job, my business, my livelihood
8. My chilled larger beer ( a joker chipped in and we all laughed)
9. My Blackberry o (said a pretty girl beside me busy chatting away on her bb)
And before you know it, the list grew longer as everyone began to feel comfortable and to chip in different likes and loves of things or persons they could die for.
At the end, I concluded that, while we all had our different priorities, even for the most mundane of things, people were ready to die for it simply because they loved it. Love was the re-occurring decimal when they chose what they could die for. That brought us back to the topic that started the whole discussion – Nigeria. So I asked them, “oya back to Nigeria, will you die for Naija?” There was a resounding “No!” Some shook their heads vigorously, others added “for wetin na?” Another “wetin Naija do for me wey I go die for am?” Still one Yoruba woman said “Emi ke?” hissed and with her palms raised up in the air as if to stop me, said “abeggi!” Well, I wasn’t surprised by their responses but all the same, I asked “if you can die for your Mom or your kids or even your Blackberry phone that is temporary or for something as transient as your glass of cold lager beer after a hard day’s work (pointing to the guy who had said so), why can’t you die for something as important as your country Nigeria?”
Everybody began to talk all at once “I love my children” “I love my mom, if not for her I won’t be here today” “I love my BB” (said the pretty young girl) and then she added with a shake of her head, “hmm, I no fit go without my bb for even an hour.” The forty-ish looking farmer said, “our farm feeds the whole family and even more, why won’t I love it?” and then continued, “even if it doesn’t do anything, it has been in the family for years, it is our pride and we love it – nothing can make us sell it!” Someone chipped in “Iya! Die for Naija ke?” more hisses everywhere. Before long, an elderly gentleman made the ubiquitous comparison between the systems in America versus Nigeria. I reminded the elderly gentleman that America was once upon a time an ungovernable colony, unruly and disorganized but with time they had gotten better. He reminded me that we were no longer in the past and that once upon a time the whole world was also unruly and ungovernable but that with time, great nations have changed for the better and that other developing nations were putting their act together except Nigeria.
He pointed out that soon we would be celebrating 100 years as a nation and that a time of 100 years was enough for any nation to get better but that Nigeria has only gotten worse while other nations got better. He concluded rather dismally, that he didn’t see Nigeria getting any better any time soon. And everyone seemed to agree enthusiastically with him. However, a youthful & energetic voice chirped in: “Me, I believe in this Nigeria sha. It is the only country I have and I am going to fight for it to be like America one day!” It was a powerful statement made in the midst of a crowd of dissenters and it struck a chord in me. Some cynics in the crowd rolled their eyes and moved on. Others hissed and said somewhat sarcastically, “good for you, fight on!” However, the elderly gentleman walked to the youthful girl that made the statement, patted her on the shoulder and added a sage statement, almost like an after-thought, “My dear young girl, my generation has let this country down. May be the baton rest on your generation to do something different; I am tired of fighting but you, you can still fight for Nigeria. I may not see the change in my life time but you or your children may see the change you are fighting for.” He continued, wisely, “young girl, it is not a bad thing to fight for the change you seek, fight my daughter but do not fight alone. Alone you cannot win this fight but with other fighters you stand a chance of winning. You may lose many battles, you may win some but eventually, if you do not give up, I tell you, you will win the war one day!”
And on this note, I dare say, stand and fight for your dream of a better Nigeria. It is possible. I join hands with that youthful voice of optimism, encouraged and supported by other veteran fighters, WE CAN fight for a worthy cause to make Nigeria a better country and Nigerians a better people and perhaps die trying! I leave you with this poem:
YES WE CAN!
We can, We will, We must
So goes our song or is it a prayer
We think, We dream, We hope
So goes our thoughts or are We some dreamers
There is no secret
If there was We would have had it.
Our will is strong, our heart is fixed
We’ve got the strength, We know We can
We’ve got faith, you cannot beat
We’ll take our chances, try and fly
There is no portion
If there was We must have drank it.
Speak your thoughts and say your fill
Speak not your thoughts, don’t say a thing
We hear your silence, feel your looks
We won’t be bothered, We know We can
There is no limit
If there was We sure would break it.
We’ve made our choice, don’t keep us back
The die is cast, can’t keep us back
We’re moving on, counted the cost
It’s steep, it’s high, We can attain
There is no option
If there was We must have shelved it.
Clap your hands and ring the bell
Stamp your feet and swing the punch
Come what may, We do not care
This adventure dare not miss
There is no doubting
If there was We would dismiss it.
By Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi
A Poem dedicated to all Nigerians world-wide who believe in the fighting power of the people: together we believe We Can truly achieve great things for Nigeria.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of NAIJ.com