#50DaysCountDownTo2015 – DAY 45. Written by Famous Isaacs, he blogs at www.tawkadiaries.wordpress.com
A TELEPHONE CONVERSATION WITH MY COUSINS ABOUT NIGERIA
I call my cousins who live abroad and the first question they ask me on the phone is: “How is Nigeria?” How is Nigeria? It suddenly occurs to me that I have not really thought about the state of Nigeria myself. How is Nigeria? They didn’t ask, expecting just to be told that Nigeria is fine, like everyone else would tell them because they are still kids glaring with innocence, they ask with a purpose- to know the real thing about their real country.
I have to give them an answer, something better than what the BBC reports to them. I have to tell them something encouraging, something to make them feel a little pride for their country of origin; something to make them walk shoulder high and tell a Whiteman, ‘Yes, I am a Nigerian.’ Question is, what’s there to tell?
They start first, telling me that few weeks ago they watched on YouTube how the Boko Haram sect slaughtered an Air Force officer like a Ramadan goat; they tell me they listened as the president sometimes ago said corruption in Nigeria is overhyped, and that they thought, that maybe internet fraud is now legal.
But they also tell me of how much they love the Nigerian music videos they watch on YouTube, how much they appreciate the fighting-hustling spirit of young Nigerians who keep nursing their ambitions no matter how many times they fail- Nigerians who do not count their loses but are just looking forward to that one opportunity to make a big hit, and smile. They tell me they appreciate the First Lady who doesn’t keep quiet on issues on national interest simply because she cannot speak like a Londoner- who hasn’t allowed her linguistic weaknesses get the better of her. And just as I am about to tell them how much I wish I was out of Nigeria, they tell me how much they would love to come stay in Nigeria, but they cannot come for fear of being bombed, kidnapped, robbed, duped, or whatever else, like get Ebola-infected. I laugh, and I think to myself, ‘young cousins, what do they know?’ But again, there they have hung the question around my neck: How is Nigeria?
I realize they ask the question because they feel that I, their cousin, would be able to tell them something encouraging about Nigeria especially because I live in Nigeria and I have the real experience of how it all goes down at the battle field. Okay, I tell them that business is on and well; I tell them there is air in my lungs and blood in my veins and my wife and kids are well, and what is more: Nigeria is alive, and changed. That’s all I say. What I wouldn’t tell them is that to be alive doesn’t mean you are okay; to be alive isn’t the same as saying there is hope. Yes, and I am fortunate they didn’t ask me about the ‘changing’ part. What if they asked what Nigeria has changed into? Would I have said for good, or for bad? Changing for bad is pretty obvious, but what if I had said for good? What would I have said if they asked how?