Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas letter to my Motherland, Nigeria

"Merry Christmas to my Motherland, Nigeria! Born in 1914, you are 98 years now. In the realm of motherlands, you are no longer a baby. But the harsh experiences you have had — rape, robbery, battery, verbal abuse — have left you in diapers when you should be a sage among other motherlands. You have gone through rough times: in the hands of foreigners and your children.

Even before you were born, the British had seized you and kept you under their control. Under the guise of giving you a new life, they raped you and exploited you. They took away your freedom. They gave you a name that suited them. They changed the course of your life. They forced their ways on you. They treated you with contempt. They took away your wealth with impunity.
However, being the strong woman that you are, you survived the British and all their machinations. When the British ordeal was over in 1960, you heaved a sigh of relief. You laughed, sang, danced and rejoiced over your freedom. Your ululation reverberated across the planet. You had great expectations. You were certain of a great future. Even your neighbours and distant acquaintances were somewhat envious of what you would turn out to be, given your enormous potential. They could see how fertile and richly endowed you were. They could see the number and quality of children you had given birth to. They could see your strength and ingenuity as well as those of your children. They could see that you were a good mother that would raise her children in an upright way.
But the celebration had not died down before your children became drunk with power and greed. They began to steal from you. Should a child with everything at his disposal steal from his mother? A good child should not. But your children did. They fought so much over the control of your family that a war of 30 months broke out and claimed the lives of over a million of your children. You have watched helplessly as your children slaughtered one another in their thousands. You watched helplessly as your little children were killed by starvation and malnutrition. You cried as you buried your children. You cried even more as you watched many of your children left unburied by the roadside and forests, serving as food for carrion eaters. Oh, how much you wept for your children! But you did not lose hope. Great Mother, you did not crumble.
Your conviction was that the blood of your children shed in that war would serve as a lesson for your surviving children to build a stronger and happier family. You were certain that no more would your children bicker over trivialities, given the enormous wealth you have kept at their disposal.
But events have shown that your children learnt nothing from that war. If you children stole from you before that war, now they rob you in broad daylight with impunity. As each group takes over the control of the family, hopes would rise that there would be growth and peace in the land. But sooner than later, such hopes evaporate.
You have waited for over 52 years for your children to get their act together. You have believed in them and have refused to give up on them. But what you get regularly from them is failure, disappointment and betrayal.
But your patience has grown thin. You have asked yourself repeatedly: When will these children be responsible? When will they make you a proud and happy mother? You have asked yourself where you have gone wrong in raising your children. You have instilled enough discipline in them. You have fed your children well. You have provided enough resources to go round, with natural resources in all nooks and crannies. You live in a climate that is the envy of the world: no extreme cold weather, no extreme hot weather, no earthquake, no hurricane, no tsunami, no storm, no drought. Therefore, when the rest of the world groan and mourn because of natural disasters, your children experience no such thing.
Yet more of your children suffer and die from man-made disasters than in climes which suffer natural disasters. Mothers and their babies die during delivery because of poor health care. Babies die from preventable diseases because of non-availability of standard medicare. Road accidents occur because of bad roads, claiming the lives of your children. Many who are lucky to have survived such accidents die in the hospitals because the hospitals are poorly equipped. Children sit on the floor to be taught in schools because funds for school facilities have been embezzled by some people. Your children sleep in darkness because the money for electricity supply cannot be accounted for.
But your inner strength is amazing, Great Mother. In spite of all the injuries and pains inflicted upon you, you remain strong. In spite of the disappointments and heartbreaks you have suffered in the hands of your children, you have not given up. The weight of the burden you have borne for your children has bent you, but it has not broken you or destroyed you. You have looked on in faith that some day it will be well with your home. You have remained hopeful that one day, your children will make you a proud mother.
Pardon us, Mother, for our thoughtlessness. Pardon us for our waywardness and greed and cantankerousness. It may take time, but we shall turn a new leaf and make you a proud mother.
May it be well with you, Mother, in the morning. May it be well with you in the afternoon. May it be well with you at night. May your children who don’t wish you well have a change of heart. May there be justice, peace and laughter in your home.
As this year winds down, may 2013 usher in a new phase for you: a phase of peace, growth, prosperity and happiness. Merry Christmas to a special and longsuffering Mother. It shall be well with you, Nigeria!