The Nigeria of my dream
(‘Ala ni’ku, kadara kii ku’ – Dreams die, Destiny does not die – a Yoruba wise saying)
A Nigeria of my dream? Well, to tell the truth, I don’t care a hoot about dreams, I don’t take them seriously. And pray, why should I? I dreams, all sorts of ideas, beings, and things invade your well-deserved sleep. Uninvited –except, perhaps by your subconscious self- these things manifest to disturb your peace of sleep, or of mind, or of both, the latter particularly in your waking moments. Dreams can be so unnerving. But some – and this is seldom- can be sweet experience, this I must admit.
What is a dream anyway? A train of mostly wishful thoughts, fantasies, imaginations, ideas, abstracted imaginings that we experience while asleep. This is the general dictionary description. .Sigmund Freud, neurologist, psychoanalyst, and researcher of note on dreams said a few things about dreams that do not even recommend that I should take them seriously. And as I said above I choose to not. Freud is quoted to say for instance, that dreams tend to select their contents ‘in accordance with principles other than those that govern our waking memory, in that it recalls not essential and important , but subordinate and disregarded things…[and] tend to raise trivial and long forgotten details of our lives’.
‘Every dream’, said he, ‘reveals a psychological structure…actually a wish fulfillment’. Freud conclude therefore that ‘dreams are absolutely egoistical’. I want no part of such stuff! Even the great Shakespeare is quoted to say that ‘dreams lift up fools’; that ‘to dream is happiness, [I would say illusion], to wake is reality’, that ‘you can’t fill your purse with dreams’. But dreams, it seems, serve a purpose for many men. Someone said that ‘dreams are necessary for our survival’. Perhaps he meant sanity.
For me, dreams are not real but mere ‘empty words’ to borrow from physician and poet Robert Bridges. The Yoruba saying that dreams die admits that they are ephemeral. On the other hand, ‘Life is real! Life is earnest!’ said Henry Longfellow. By which I understand that reality is what is happening here, now. Not yesterday (that dreams dreg up) not tomorrow that is wishful imagining, but here and now. Indeed, ‘Yesterday is a cancelled check’ said Kay Lyons, ‘tomorrow is a promissory note, today is the only cash you have –so spend it wisely’.
My education tells me to stay in the present, for it is the only place things are happening. This is the reason lessons on Time Management –or more correctly, Self-Management-, emphasize that we should avoid procrastination like it is a plague. Never put off till tomorrow, what you can reasonably do today.
All these are to say that I don’t want to think about a Nigeria of my dream; of a country that exists in abstracted imagining, I want here and now, a country where things work, where, to translate a Yoruba saying, birds sing like birds, rodents cry like rodents, humans behave as intelligent humans, and society is on its normal trajectory of development and progress. I want, to adapt from Khalil Gibran’s poem, a country that eats the bread it grows, drinks the wine from its own wine press, and weaves the cloth it wears. I want a country. I don’t want a country that is ‘full of beliefs and empty of religion’, ‘that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral’, ‘that will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block’, ‘that welcomes its new ruler with trumpetings, and farewells him with hootings, only to welcome another with trumpetings again’.
These are the classic traits of hypocrites, and this Nigeria is full to the brim with hypocrites. Hypocrisy is a great sin; it is synonymous with deceit, duplicity, two-fadedness, dissembling, insincerity and imposture. I want here, now, a Nigeria where the people live the life they enjoin upon others. Nothing is more terrible for a country but to suffer, as Nigeria does, from Gandhi’s 7 Social Sins.
I want today, a country of a people (leaders and the led) with (a positive) A+T+T+I+ T+U+D+E =100 toward themselves, their fellow citizens and their duty to their country. I don’t grant myself or Nigeria the luxury of dreaming, the serious and instant-minded peoples of the world have left us behind in just about everything that matters –except, for shame! consumption of others’ goods. Am I impatient? Yes I am. Am I angry with my country? Yes I am. I live in an age of the instant –instant coffee, business at the speed of thought, or nearly so. I am hungry for development, and in a hurry for progress. Why shouldn’t my country too?
Dreams die, but Destiny does not die. I want a Nigeria that stops acting in betrayal of its destiny, and that begins forthwith, to fulfill it. Mandela read the star of this country right by saying, in sum, that the greatness of the Black race depends upon how Nigeria conduct itself.
And how to do this? I borrow from Gandhi. One, Politics be played with principles, two, Wealth must be gained from honest work, three, Pleasure must be sought with conscience, four, Education must be go with character, five, Commerce must be practiced with morality, six, Worship must go with sacrifice, and seven, Science must practice with full respect for humanity.
These rules apply to every citizen, to leader and followers at all levels and in all fields of endeavor. Roman statesman and philosopher Marcus Aurelius said ‘let us put an end, once and for all, to this discussion of what a good man should be – and be one’. This I urge on my fellow compatriots here, now. And Nigeria will have set forth on its path to destined greatness.
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