Udi Okoh: Our love for country has gone cold (30 Days, 30 Voices)

Think of Nigeria as a house, a very big one. A mansion in fact, and while we, the youths are in the kitchen preparing our future dinners; our leaders are setting the dinning tables on fire. There’ll be no place to eat.

LOVE  – ‘For Love is Extensionality; seeing Everything as You, & You as Everything.’ –  Jacque Fresco. Zeitgeist.

So where did it begin? When did the youth lose the love? When did they stop caring about Nigeria? Was it not passed on? When did our Nigerian patriotism die? Was it ever even born?

One of the first things that came into my mind during my ponderings on the matter was a quote by Ken Wiwa from his book In The Shadow of a Saint, it read, “… a country  peopled by children whose parents risked nothing in the cause of social justice, for fear of personal loss.”

(Let it sink in) It is a sad but accurate depiction of what we have in Nigeria’s (privileged) society.

I see what faces the Nigerian youth today, especially the fortunate ones, as some kind of evolution of their parents past behaviours towards politics. Frankly, many of our parents saw the political struggle in Nigeria, but chose to ignore it. In some ways it is quite an understandable decision, but I don’t think anyone really thought out what such actions would mean for the next generation of Nigerians.

I believe that when our parents took their hands off the wheels of Nigerian affairs especially politically, they did so completely & effectively that it became non-existent in the lives of their children. Today, many youths cannot even see the struggle, talk less of identify with it. To a majority of the next generation it is foreign. A stranger. They hear but cannot comprehend. They see but can’t understand. They’re in constant contact with it but can’t feel it.

The neglectful attitude of the past generation towards the politics of the country has birth a generation of Nigerians who possess no empathy for Nigerian politics or her societal dealings. Their relationship with Nigeria is solely centred on the fact that they reside there, & the security/sustenance of that personal niche remains paramount compared to any national agenda.

I’ll use my childhood as an example. Now although my father was heavily involved in politics at some points in his life, even contested in some elections, that aspect of his life was never shared with us. I grew up in an apolitical home. Somehow even though it was happening all around us, politics was rarely the subject of our discussions. It rarely entered the dinner table or late night conversations or even stories. It was present in our everyday lives but it was never acknowledged.

During my time in Nigeria I hardly read newspapers, even when I did, I did it for the ‘interesting’ stories or comics. I didn’t follow up on current affairs or even really cared about the on goings of my country (unless of course when it came to NLC strikes) I acted like this because that side of Nigeria was alien to me & it was because from my eyes it seemed inferior to my parents. My dad read newspapers, watched the news, he followed Nigerian politics deeply but he never encouraged me to do so. I simply thought politics was some sort of hobby for old people.

You see like many other kids in my generation, I was raised on this ‘go to school-get good grades-become successful-live happily ever after’ scheme.  My father constantly drummed this process into my head so I never really cared about the on goings of the Nigerian government. My successful future, as I was told, lay somewhere in my schoolbooks and education & as the saying goes ‘Where your treasured lies, your heart will be..’ Politics never stood a chance. I’m pretty sure if I never left my house for university I wouldn’t be as politically concerned as I am now.

To be honest, the blame goes beyond the parents & the home. Within schools and religious centres, the story is not so different. In the case of religion it is clear to the naked eye that politics and religion don’t mix on the level of educating. Very few religious leaders educate their congregation on the affairs of the state. & In education, Nigerian politics or national affairs are hardly ever placed as the priority they are supposed to be. We are taught western history & policies with more accuracy than ours.

Even when Nigerian politics is addressed it is hardly practical or well in depth. This is despite the fact that it is constantly going on around us & affecting our lives. In our up bringing we never engage with politics as vigorously as we are supposed to. It is absurd that current affairs take such a back role in education, especially in a country like ours where the government is so influential. We aren’t taught the clear links between good governance & a successful people; that when Nigeria progresses we will progress with it & when she regresses that we in turn, are pulled back too. It is the simple truth. A majority of the richest & most successful citizens of the world come from places with good governance.

The result of all these deficiencies is that we now have this potential filled educated group of youths choosing not to give a damn about their country because they are so focused on themselves. ethics of sole self-awareness that have been drilled over & over & over again are now the norm.  From my childhood to my adolescence, in fact up until I turned 18 or so, the fact that somehow my future depended on the activities at Aso Rock was absurd to me. I was never raised to even consider it. I knew they were stealing, I knew they were corrupt; I knew it was wrong but I was taught not to care. They owed me nothing & I owed them nothing. Focus your own life & you’ll be fine. Forget the Government. It is still the mindset for many youths today, especially the privileged.  And worse, it is a delusion.

Think of Nigeria as a house, a very big one. A mansion in fact, and while we, the youths are in the kitchen preparing our future dinners; our leaders are setting the dinning tables on fire. There’ll be no place to eat. The United States of America alone has produced over 424 the billionaires. Asia is not too far away with China & India obviously leading the continent with 95 & 48 respectively. The trend continues in Europe. Africa on the other hand as far has I know, has just 2/3 billionaires. It is directly linked to the continents political failures. Same thing goes for standard of living, per capital income, security etc. The same government we are choosing to ignore is constantly killing dreams and your own isn’t safe.

The lack of love for our country goes beyond the hand of our parents or schools or churches. The truth is that some of us just don’t care. We are not uncomfortable enough to care & some of us are not enlightened enough either. The youths themselves too are partly guilty of their lost love for their country.

No love; It is a mind-set that we must now put aside.

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Udi Okoh is a design student. He writes at kalakutajournals.tumblr.com

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30 Days 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians to share their stories and experiences with other young Nigerians, within our borders and beyond, to inspire and motivate them.

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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