Should Nigeria Independence Day mean anything to you?

The first of October 1960, the day Nigeria became independent. I reckon it must have been a glorious day.

Some older folk say they gathered around radio sets when the announcement was made and rejoiced when they found out they were no longer under the colonial masters. Nigeria before then was just a colony, a branch of the British government deemed incapable of making decisions for herself, just like the other colonies.

58 Nigeria Independence Day October 2018
Happy 58 Anniversary Nigeria!

I likened that to some sort of an employee who had been forced to work under a very influential employer for so long until one day, she/he started thinking: “look I can actually start this business on my own and flourish.” Long story short, we set a motion in force and broke free.

The road to freedom wasn’t an easy one though, our heroes, the likes of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe,  Chief Obafemi  Awolowo and Chief Anthony Enahoro, amongst others agitated for it, so eventually, we were handed the mantle to govern ourselves. Whether or not we are doing a good job of that is a treatise for another time.

they fought for Nigeria Independence: Azikiwe, Awolowo, Balewa
They fought for Nigeria Independence: L-R: Awolowo, Azikwe, Balewe. Image from Google

So, we were finally given the go ahead to go start our own ‘company’ and so we did, we started the company Nigeria.

Albeit in need of heavy renovation, 58 years later Nigeria still stands.

CEOs have come and gone, ‘the company’ has seen several political, social and economic crisis. We have and are still under threats from internal and external factors but somehow we are managing to stay afloat.

Looking around, it has become apparent that Nigerians are becoming less enthusiastic about the ‘Nigeria Independence Day.’ It seems people no longer feel the need to celebrate the day that we started our own ‘company’ as business has not been good especially in recent times leading some people to ask, what if we never became independent?

I’ve some heard people say time and time again that we would be better off if we were still a colony. “If we no chase oyinbo commot fast fast like that Nigeria for don better,” I once heard a woman say.

I have also heard some people express the opinion that Nigeria would be “uncivilised” if we were never colonised in the first place.

Well here’s the thing, if we weren’t colonised, there wouldn’t even be a Nigeria to begin with. We’d have the Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas, Edos, Ibibios and the rest of the numerous separate entities in Nigeria led by their own separate leaders.

While one could only hazard a guess on how such a system would have turned out, some say the empires would have conquered each other until only a few are left. But mind you, they had thousands of years before the British arrived to do just that but didn’t.

Having noted that, it is important that we do not take our independence for granted.

Why? You may ask.

The Nigeria Independence Day marks a new beginning for Nigeria at a time when it seemed as though we had lost our identity. It is important to note that Nigeria was not colonised for fun, no. The one and only driving force was the economic gain. Nigeria was and still is rich with resources and artifacts and that’s what the british wanted. Our resources.

1. A dependent Nigeria would still be having her national artefacts and treasure stolen and may only have them returned on loan!

benin bronze artifacts or artefact nigeria independence
Benin Bronzes at the British Museum ( Son of Groucho/Flickr )

A simple example is the case of Benin City. The British looted about 3,000 artworks from the palace after burning it and then transported many of the bronze works to their museums where they remain till today and Nigeria is actually willing to loan some of them back.

2.  A dependent Nigeria would have its indigene living as second class citizens in their own land.

Many of us may not fully understand what colonialism was like because we were not born during that era but imagine waking up to a Nigeria where the people that rule you aren’t even Nigerian? You wake up knowing that you are not and never will be a priority to those in authority, in fact you wouldn’t even be seen as equals, you would always come second to the British! Think about that.

3. A dependent Nigeria would have lost her cultural identity completely

In terms of culture and identity, Nigeria is still recovering, somehow we convinced ourselves that everything the West brought to us was better than our own.

Slowly Nigeria was becoming just another arm of Britain, we started practicing their religion, eating their food, wearing their clothes, singing their songs and speaking their languge. The things that made us a people were slowly becoming markers of uncivilisation to us and we began to see them as shameful.

Most of these things are still very common in modern Nigeria because of the media and globalisation but if Nigeria was not independent it would have become worse. The influence would be such that by now every Nigerian may have found a way to change their black skins to white just to identify more with the colonial masters.

4. A dependent Nigeria wouldn’t have learned the lessons we have now

Admittedly Nigeria isn’t exactly where we’d want her to be after so many years of being independent.  We’ve stumbled and fallen on the way to the promise land but at least we’re some learning lessons along the way, though some may beg to differ.

We have been self-governing for 58 years now. We know what our flaws are, we know what areas to tackle and we know exactly what areas need improvement. We also know where we are doing great.

Last words

No one can deny that the two most challenges facing us as a nation are that of bad leadership and corruption. We are a resilient bunch and we can be much better and we know it. What we are waiting for to actually do it is the baffling part; the part that most people, Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike, can’t wrap their heads around. The part that makes some people say that maybe the British left too early, maybe we should have remained under the colonial rule. And that is so sad. We need a strong political will to do what is right by us and for us, for our children’s future.

Finally, even if the Nigeria Independence Day celebrations may mean nothing to you, but there are really lots that we can be grateful for (even though you may not feel like it).  Think of this day as more of a sign that we have overcome one struggle and an indication that we can overcome the next.

Happy Independence day, everyone!

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