Are We Ashamed of Our Fatherland?
- Part ONE
(Answering The Nigerian
call has continued to go out for Nigerians in the Diaspora to return home
to Nigeria and share in or contribute to the growth of the country. Many
are really answering the call while some are still arming themselves with
the necessary tools required to effect such positive change in a country
challenged by political, religious, and social upheavals. There are still
others who have relegated Nigeria to the background as a secondary society
that may not be returned to or even visited again. The latter category
includes critics and believers in the barrage of negative criticism
leveled against Nigeria and Nigerians (this is separate from those
concerned about their safety. A topic addressed in detail in another
piece). It must be maintained that there is quite a substantial good side
to the story of Nigeria and Nigerians, notwithstanding the barrage of
incidents that continue to smear the prestige and integrity of that great
For one, Nigerian names overwhelmingly dominate the list of New York State
and New York City professional and graduate employees of non-American
origin. Check this out for yourself. Just type in a Nigerian last name
(Yoruba, Ibo, etc,) into the city employees mailing or e-mail address book
and you will be amazed by the dominance of Nigerians listed in the
directory. Not only in New York, but in London, Europe, and other parts of
the world, Nigerians in Diaspora continue to excel in their various fields
of endeavor whether it is academics, business, administration, arts,
science, or otherwise. Yet, some choose to remember Nigerians only by the
occasional negative news carried by media outlets.
It is therefore understandable perhaps, why many Nigerians in Diaspora are
reluctant to say that they are from Nigeria when asked where they come
from. Some believe they could lose an interview, lose their honor, or
perhaps get treated unfairly differently if they identify with being a
Nigerian. Incidentally, that has been the case in some situations.
Obviously, many Nigerians the world over have been identified with various
sorts of fraud and crime. Unfortunately, negative news travels faster than
good news, and it definitely leaves a stigma even after the news seemed to
have passed. Regardless, the fact remains that those Nigerians who go
around tarnishing the image of Nigeria and Nigerians are always in the
minority. The majority of Nigerians are very good people. They are very
hardworking, respectful, resourceful, ambitious, cheerful, and serious
minded individuals. This is evidenced by the manner in which top foreign
firms and international organizations continue to engage Nigerian
professionals despite the negative rap that Nigeria and Nigerians get from
Incidentally, those in Nigeria who believe that they are more devoted than
others in their tribal and/or religious beliefs have not helped matters by
their continual commitment to riot and kill fellow Nigerians at the
slightest provocation. But must some of us continue to dig graves that are
wide and deep enough to take everyone along with them? While some
Nigerians and Nigerian leaders continue to do what they can to uplift the
image of Nigeria, some others continue to take actions that inevitably
attract worldwide condemnation, and further degradation of the Nigeria
entity. Several examples could be recounted here, but the pertinent
question would not go away. What is the cause of this seeming desire by
some Nigerians to
bath in the aura of negative impressionism? Is it out of a selfish desire
to survive at all cost, or as a result of biased influence and
orientation? How can the situation be addressed? The question continues to
linger, but it has to be answered, if we really intend to make progress.
Having been exposed to a different way of doing things in the Diaspora,
some Nigerians actually return to Nigeria to help improve things while
others simply return to get sucked in and influenced by the pending
disrepute alleged by critics of Nigeria and Nigerians. Many
returnee-Nigerians go ahead to jettison whatever experience and exposure
earned while living abroad. Accordingly, they end up carelessly dashing
the hopes of those Nigerians at home who have hoped that the typical
returnee-Nigerian would make a difference. Such returnee-Nigerians refuse
to let their light shine. The present political dispensation in Nigeria
includes various returnee-Nigerians. How does one rate such
returnee-Nigerians? Whether it has been positive, passive, or negative, is
a topic that requires the devotion of another write-up.
While the call for the return of Nigerians in the Diaspora continues to
ring, Nigerians in Diaspora could do a lot to help matters even if they
are not ready to return to Nigeria at the moment. Being proud of Nigeria
and being a good ambassador of Nigeria anywhere the Nigerian finds himself
in the world could go a long way to help. This does not have to involve a
mammoth task. It could be as simple as not being ashamed of owning up to
being a Nigerian, or simply proving the critics wrong when they expect
less from the Nigerian. This is not a call for a moral revolution
(although that would be interesting). It is rather a simple restatement of
our civic duty to promote the goodwill of our fatherland.
To those who have done a lot and have remained in the forefront of
promoting the positive attributes of Nigeria and Nigerians, the comment
would be for them to keep up the good work. This piece is not a crusader
piece and nothing more is to be said to those who continue to pull the
name of the country down for reasons best known to them. If it is a matter
of greed and materiality, then it can only be hoped that they someday find
contentment or be convinced by the consequences of their actions to shun
their greed and materialism. If it is a matter of tribalism and dichotomy,
then it can be hoped that they someday realize that the diversity of
Nigeria goes beyond tribe and that human opinions and perspectives will
always defer whether by way of religion, sociology, or survival economics.
No section of the country can succeed in imposing its ideologies and ways
of life and thinking on another section by suppression, force, violence,
or intimidation. If it is a matter of indoctrination then we can only hope
for the emancipation of the indoctrinated at the right time.
To those who are not sure of Nigeria or Nigerians, the appeal would be for
them to please give Nigeria and Nigerians a chance devoid of prejudicial
assessment - a simple request to be treated with an open heart, not with a
preconceived impression. This raises the pertinent question - what chance
do we Nigerians give ourselves? How do we respect our honor and integrity
when tested by situations that tell the kind of stuff that we are made of?
If a Nigerian is not proud enough to stand up for one single fellow
Nigerian out there whether at home or abroad, how could he contribute to
the betterment of the society or nation as a larger entity?
With these questions raised, this piece will be concluded with the
following poem ("Fatherland").
For an experience that seems to be on all fours with the points raised
above, please read PART TWO of this piece.
(Yes, We Are The Nigerians)
Though in hardship we may suffer,
We assure tomorrow by steadfast work,
As a breed of people never subdued.
Though few of us by unpopular acts,
Tarnish our country's only name,
We remain achievers across the world,
For most of us are true good men,
Revered by those who really know us.
This fatherland and native country
Of plentiful rain and moderate climate
Endowed with nature's own blessings,
Allowing production of diverse food,
Oil and gas and major minerals,
Blended with a populous citizenry,
This is my own dear native land,
And with God in it we proudly stand.
Though in tribe and tongue we may differ,
And though in the past, we fought a war,
We stand stronger in pending freedom,
Cherishing the labor of our heroes past,
In loving strength and faith united,
To uphold that honor and that glory,
Of a people diverse but so industrious,
And yes we're called the Nigerians.
Oliver Mbamara, Esq. © 2003 (updated 2012)
ESSAYS and POEMS OF FREEDOM ©Copyright 2003
THE AUTHOR:Oliver O.
Mbamara, Esq., is a filmmaker, writer, poet, and playwright. He is also a
judge with New York State, OAH. For
more on Oliver Mbamara, please visit www.OliverMbamara.com
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