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Moyosore: A journey of discovery, reappraisal and rededication 0

Nigerian journalist and author, Chido Onumah, a frequent contributor to Pambazuka News, just turned 50. To celebrate the milestone, he reflects on his life, work and the contradictions of the Nigerian nation.

In a country where the value of human life is not worth more than that of a fly at a butcher’s shop; where misery is a constant companion and the candour of our politicians and rulers is the same candour that pimps extend to prostitutes, it is not out of place to celebrate every minute, every hour, every month, and every year. It is certainly not for nothing that “Happy new month” has become a refrain at the beginning of every month for many Nigerians on WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook. But I digress

I was born exactly 50 years ago today (April 10) in a country that, by all indications, had the prospects of being the leader of the Black race. This is my story and in a way the story of Nigeria. The year of my birth, six years after independence, was the year of the first of many military coups, a bloody event – touted by those who engineered it as an attempt to redeem the country – that would spiral out of control and precipitate an internecine civil war.

Memories of that turbulent period still reverberate across the country. Fifty years after, Nigeria remains a dream deferred. And that dream is drying up like a raisin in the sun, to paraphrase Langston Hughes. If we were happy to gain independence in 1960, we failed woefully to build a nation out of what was handed to us by the departing colonialists. If we had three countries, as ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo alluded to on January 15, 2016, at an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the January 15, 1966, coup and the 46th anniversary of the end of the civil war on January 15, 1970, we took it for granted such that today we can’t keep count of the number of “countries” that are tugging at the heart and soul of Nigeria.

It is ironic that the older the country gets the more challenging it is for her people to live in peace and harmony. I remember the Nigeria I grew up in with nostalgia and I wonder always what happened to that country. It was the era of oil boom and the “Cement Armada”, when the problem of the country was not money but what to do with it, as then Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, was reported to have said. Maybe the prosperity soothed our differences. Whatever the reasons, the Nigeria I grew up in, the country of my childhood, was one in which the concept of Nigeria was all-embracing; it was one that our rulers should have taken a cue from, but they were too busy sharing and pocketing the money because, “Their nation,” in the eternal words of radical economist, late Prof Eskor Toyo, “is a well of mineral oil and money from the territory called Nigeria.”  Building a Nigerian nation was the last thing on their mind!

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by Chido Onumah

Photo Credits: Sahara Reporters

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi