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The power of unity through a shift in national consciousness

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Joy Umoren

Joy Umoren

It was a bright and beautiful day that fateful Monday morning in July 2014. I woke up and was ready to begin the day’s activities as usual, but got saluted by a great shock. Like an unwelcome visitor, a strange disease had crept into the nation, an epidemic that was said to have consumed lives in hundreds and thousands in nearby countries.

The disease leaves its victim in total isolation and gives no room for remedy; a terrible malady that is capable of wiping-out an entire generation in no time. It was called Ebola. Soon the news of its spread was like wild fire, and its name was on every lip.

The mere thought of it sent shivers down the spine of every human. Everything changed in just a twinkle of an eye; our mode of greetings changed, so also our environment, personal hygiene, and even our relationship with others.

For a nation where fratricidal killings, dissonance of bomb blast, kidnapping and violent protest had become prevalent, we could only wish that Ebola hadn’t found its way here. It was indeed not just a tragedy to our region, but a catastrophe that kept everyone running on toes in search of a possible solution.

The quest for redress began, as most people bathed with and drank salt water, all in a bid to fortify themselves. It grew worse by the day and we all wished it was a nightmare, but there it was, staring at us in the face; a reality that we needed to cope with.

It was amazing how we worked together as a team to tackle this scourge, using all available platforms. No one was left out in the struggle; for once we all forgot our ethnic pluralism, religious sentiments, culture, diverse tongues and thought of the way forward.

We fought with one mind to save our nation and the lives of our loved ones. At that point nothing else mattered to us, all we ever yearned for was to live our normal lives again; hug our loved ones, shake hands with each other and play with one another without fear of getting contacted. And we won the battle. Yes, we won the battle, not because we were stronger but because we were united and unbreakable.

Sensitisation campaigns kicked-off in full force with our medical experts taking the lead, the media houses were not left out, our government and their agencies, religious bodies, civil society organisations, groups, families, individuals and even the children were not left out in war of contention. Religious sentiments, tribalism, individual interests, amongst others were all buried. Some patriotic Nigerians lost their lives in the process.

Amid all these, there was a lesson to be learnt with a great awakening in our consciousness…a clarion call to serve. The lesson emphasized the need for us to be united, fight as one, speak one language and protect the common good of our nation.

Here we are again faced with challenges on every side. The cloud is so dark that it’s difficult to see tomorrow. We need to fight once more to bring to reality the Nigeria of our dream. We must come together and ensure that we have a nation where bribery, corruption and other vices will become extinct.

This is no time to be less concerned, because, if it doesn’t get better we will be concerned. We conquered Ebola not because we had all that was required to fight it, but because we had a common interest which was a great sense of national consciousness and unified voice of oneness.

On this note, there is need to be a shift in national consciousness; there is need for an absolute wake-up call before our society can actually make the kind of significant changes that we need to happen. I see light at the end of the Tunnel…Arise O Compatriots…

• Miss Umoren is a graduate of University of Calabar.


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