A few weeks ago I was engulfed in a conversation with my neighbour. Our conversation circled to a large extent around religion, corruption, politics, corruption, power, corruption, security, corruption and corruption. Yes, repetition for emphasis and the average Nigerian’s favourite topic is corruption.
I listened with halfhearted attention over my long overdue laundry while he hammered on about the state of the country and the Nigerian dream of a revolution. After an endless revolutionary pause I asked, “You want people to take to the streets carrying placards with the word ‘CHANGE’ boldly written?”
“Yes! If we do this the government will know we are serious.”
The Nigerian dream. Don’t we just love to deceive ourselves? Every time we take to the street, we carry only but a fraction of people who truly believe and ‘understand’ what it’s being fought for. The others are no more than extra casts on a movie set, people no different from the terrorist pawn living another man’s dreams with no idea why he is doing so except that he’s been told to.
So I told him a story of a young man I served with in a remote village of the country. A young ‘promising’ future leader, who was opportune to work as a polling officer in the last conducted election, who so brashly boasted of how much he was paid by some party officers to release the ballot boxes to them, and afterwards how he lied to the security personnel who had come to investigate that he was held at gunpoint. In fact he was advising us to do the same in the local government election as ‘sharp guys’.
Then I told him of another promising youth who only months ago spoke of how he was going to take his share of the national cake should he ever get a public position.
Sadly these are the people we take to the streets at every protest, while our leader—people who know better—sit at their round table, picking out kingpins and slapping shoulders with a few hundred thousand mint notes to hush things up. Yet tomorrow we find our revolutionary leaders gracing government appointments and accepting honorary awards for a game well played.
We are a sad lot; we who live our lives on dreams and momentary thrills that come with it. But our tragedy is not that people are easily bought, it is that they are easily bought because they don’t believe in a better future. If they did, then they won’t be so quick to sell their labour to those who will take away their honor.
I see a future, but not like most do. I don’t see one steeped in mass revolution; I see one cradled in self revolution. Where people are willing to be the change they dream to see. Maybe if we are able to face the fire in our immediate environment, refusing to follow the crowd like we are prone to do, maybe this genetically transferred corruption with end.
Dreams can only become reality when we take the difficult steps.
Revolutions are personalized. We must stop seeking that savior who will come help us while we idle away in our homes. The waiting and uncertainty that comes with it are the reasons we buy into stories of shoeless presidents. Because we are so starved for something different, we so easily become gullible. Your intentions are the only thing you can trust.
How about every individual tried being the next big thing? That quiet whisper that calms raging storms. The wind that stirs sleeping grasses. The lips that speak of change to the next ear and the next, until in unison it screams from rooftops?
When we become people who understand their rights and demand it, people who can see through neatly packaged lies, people who stop trying to shift blames, people who are neither deterred nor fazed by efforts of dream killers and complacent individuals, that’s when we will be ready for a change.
This brings to mind one of my favourite songs this season: Burning Gold by Christina Perri. I dubbed it the song of revolutions. Here are a few selected excerpts;
Looking for an exit in this world of fear
I can see the pack that leads the way
Mama never left, and daddy needs me here
I wish the wind would carry a change
Looking through the window to a world of dreams
I can see my future slip away
Honey you won’t get there if you don’t believe
I wish the wind would carry a change
I’ve had enough
I’m standing up
I need, I need a change
I’ve had enough of chasing luck
I need, I need a change….
Looking for my ticket to a higher place
I can see my chance begin to fade
One step forward and two back again
I wish the wind would carry a change…..
Looking back I see I had the flame in me
I’m the wind that’s carrying a change….
I’m setting fire to the life that I know
We start a fire everywhere that we go
We starting fires, we starting fires
Till our lives are burning gold