Some Nigerians Are Waiting To Be Patriotic!
I perpetually compare activities that I observe outside Nigeria with the Nigerian equivalent or counterparts, the good events, often leave me to wonder about their replication in Nigeria, these good things that I have seen, or personally experienced whether working, living, or visiting places outside Nigeria in different capacities, in travels as conference attendee in Belgium, England, Holland, Jamaica or here in the United States, I often have this automatic response or reversion to “how will this look in Nigeria?”
This desire to replicate everything good overseas, in Nigeria, from a car wash to an ice cream parlor to the use of the most advanced and most sophisticated Technologies and the replication of a parade of our national colors with flags of different sizes, recurs to me especially during national day parades in New York, parades by different countries whose citizens in New York ensure that the most colorful of their country’s life is portrayed in the best of lights and exhibited conspicuously and ostentatiously!
Living in the so-called “melting-pot” as New York is nicknamed and often called, it is common to come across other nationals, because, New York apart from being the physical home address of the United Nations, the city is literally actually the “United Nations” itself, New York is a conglomerate of all the nations of the world! As one is likely to meet a former Atomic Physicist turned taxi driver from the former Soviet Union’s Russia and Nurses from the Caribbean, a lawyer or doctor from Nigeria, all in ten minutes and on the same street!
There is practically someone from every corner of the earth present in New York, all countries are adequately represented from all the seven continents!
Once, there was a New York City Mayor of African descent, an African American that is, he is first and only till date, the only African American to have held that position all through history and all through about a hundred and twenty Mayors that this city has produced, spanning four year terms and with some re-elected several times, before term limits became popular with the voters.
This Mayor of African American descent, was the first such mayor even though the city has a preponderance of African Americans that have lived in the city for more than 500 years and despite, the presence also, of a good segment of African immigrants that have settled in New York in recent decades, well, this is the way American history is, totally and clearly inexplicable, as it applies to people of African descent.
Mayor David N. Dinkins was elected the 106th Mayor of New York City in 1989 and he was uniquely qualified and suitable, he is mathematician, a lawyer and a retired member of the United States Marines, when he speaks, he bedazzles and mesmerizes the listener, as he demonstrates and display his knack for words, exact expressions and phrases, he once described New York City as the world’s gorgeous mosaic! This he explained was the singular fortune of having everyone from every county on earth in New York.
Almost every nation has an annual parade in New York City, that is like having the average of one parade every other day! It also a means that these various nations here represented, also engage in protests during crises and upheavals in their homelands, it follows therefore, that the citizens of these various lands, engage in activities concerning their countries identifying themselves in their national colors and flags, flags to show solidarity or to protest a condition, flags to indicate support and encouragement, to congratulate home governments policies or to condemn policies of home countries.
Every few weeks, there are also all sorts of parade and carnivals or festivals! Italian San Genero to Indian or Polish Cultural parade to West Indian/Caribbean Carnival which is the most popular and most attended, it is also the most expensive for the participants as they are always expected to be bedecked in expensive costumes which takes months to design with exotic materials that are intricately woven colorfully finished, this must also be lightweight as these costumes are worn for a several mile trek parade! This happens every first Monday of September yearly.
New York City is the quintessential cosmopolitan area of all the world, it is suffused with a plethora of nationalities and their accompanying assets and liabilities, there is a melding of cultures, food, and much more, you will find Nigerian food restaurant, then Chinese, Thai, Russian, India, Bangleshi and Mongolia restaurants all on the same street and the patrons of these different foods are across the spectrum of the dizzying arrays nationalities that comprise New Yorkers
In the midst of this wonderful potpourri of peoples, and culture, there are of course their true national colors that all and sundry are ready and willing to exhibit at the proverbial drop of a hat! National colors and flags are readily exhibited at times of joys or sorrows, at times of celebrations or jubilations or protests, FLAGS and more FLAGS!
Flags of all assortments of colors, flags of all shapes and sizes and multiplicities of designs, grace the city street during these occasions of joys or sorrows, these flags are hoisted, flown or sometimes burned! When the occasions and anger levels rise and demand flag burning.
Which is my favorite flag among all flags of the world? the flag of Nigeria of course! Nigerian flag is the most beautiful flag that you will ever see! It is pure White and Emerald and Hunter Green, it has the beauty of the Prairie flowers in full bloom in Spring Time! It conjures all the nationalism and patriotism in my every bone and veins! The glowing pure Green and White is simply the best sight that anyone can behold and will have ever seen! These two colors are at once bright and deep, the Nigerian flag, hoisted or flown, always glow in its majesty!
But I must say however, that the Nigerian flag is not a very common sight! Not a very common sight in New York or anywhere! But why is this the case? The last experience that I can recall of the Nigerian flag being in sufficient numbers, and available in all sizes and on display, was during the hey-days of the War Against Indiscipline or WAI.
I have always wondered why Nigerian do not as a rule, sufficiently display and take pride in our national colors and flag? Whether in celebration or in protests, whether at times of our joys or at times of unwanted conditions of sorrows?
Here in New York, many nationals, are quick to hoist their flags and national colors at every opportunity, I have therefore pondered the whys and why nots of flag attitude, why not us? Our flag has glow and luster! Our flag and national colors should be shown with pride! (These poor tiny countries, less than the size of my home state in Nigeria) take pride in their national colors and flags, why don’t we Nigerians?
I expected to witness a boom in the display of the Nigerian flag during the electioneering campaigns that just ended, but it did not happen, I am also hoping that the inauguration ceremonies in the federal capital and in all the states of Nigeria witnesses a mammoth display of our national colors and flag on May 29, 2003! Lest we forget, it is all about Nigeria and the flag represent our collective; Politics is about country!
All through the electioneering campaign, I meticulously watched the individual candidates and their supporters, for evidence or proof our true colors and our flag and no much could be seen, Nigerian politicians and their supporters urgently need to embrace the Nigerian flag! Nigerians need to bathe in the flag of Nigeria regularly!
When in the past, Nigeria’s football teams has ascended to Quarter Finals or Semi-Finals or even the very coveted and envy of the world, ultimate in soccer, the FINALS of the World Cup or the Olympics Soccer! I always have desired for the presence of more Nigerian flags in the fields as symbols of us all! The national colors, our flag symbolizes ourselves! Our flag!
But frequently, our flag is in short supply! My enquiries have always led to the same conclusions and repeatedly. The producers and merchants of flags insist that there is no demand or market for the Nigerian flag and other Nigerian memorabilia, hence there is the attendant lack of desire or lack of interests on the part of the manufactures and merchants to make Nigerian flag or other patriotic memorabilia, What does this say about us as Nigerians? Whether we Nigerians at home or abroad?
A further enquiry revealed troubling information and surprise or shocking findings! A flag merchant in New York informed me that a Nigerian he knows does not want to be identified and known as a Nigerian, let alone, hoist a symbol of Nigeria proclaiming his Nigerian-ness!
But the truth is that, citizens from smaller and even poorer nations without Nigeria’s types of human and mineral resources, still take pride in their flags and national symbols anyways, why can’t the Nigerians? Citizens from very repressive governments, countries that have not had ANY elections during the past 50 years! Granted that we have growing pains in our efforts to revive the economy and democracy, Nigeria is even so, still faring better than a lot of nations! And citizens from these other nations still have reasons to identify with their nations, their national symbols and national colors and flags! Even when some of these citizens are actually opposed to their governments! Cubans in New York and New Jersey and Florida are good examples, they are rabidly opposed to President Fidel Castro, but you better not mess with the Cuban flag in the three state in the US just mentioned or you will hear from the Cuban ex-patriots!
Nigerians outside Nigeria should remember that immigrants from other countries emigrated from their homelands, just like us, and emigrated mostly because they like us, were not having a lot of fun, no human being emigrate to live abroad permanently, because so much was going well for him or her in the original home county! Never mind what globalization apologists will tell you to the contrary! Majority of those who emigrate worldwide are economic refugees.
Assuming therefore that the reasons for emigration by all immigrants are similar, why then would Nigerians abroad appear to be waiting to be patriotic, or waiting for all to be well with our home country Nigeria before we can show our flags and our national colors and symbols, waiting to be patriotic is like a young man making a vow not get married until the young man becomes a millionaire! This Youngman may never get married until he dies! Waiting for your country to be perfect before becoming patriotic is like waiting to be a millionaire, it may be desirable, but these events may never occur in one lifetime! Death might occasionally occur first! Nigerians must stop waiting for the conditions in Nigeria to be perfect before we become patriotic, Nigerians must start to put on our patriotic clothes, hats, shoes or old age and death as twin certainties, could deprive us of our chance to show our colors, patriotism and flag! This means, in my opinion, that during regime of Abacha , a Nigerian could have legitimately been opposed to the late head of state, but still fly and hoist the Nigerian flag! As we all know, leadership is ephemeral (they come and go) but nations remain and endures the passage of time.
Why do many Nigerians then appear not to make this distinction between a subsisting leadership and national symbols, flag and country? Is it case of throwing the baby and the dirty bath water? I hold the view that, whoever is the current president in Nigeria, deserves our respect, even if we disagree with his policies, efficiency or effectiveness, this is so, because, he represent all of us, he symbolizes Nigeria, our country, so that demeaning or denigrating him or her to convey our disagreement is inappropriate! The president is Nigeria, he ceases to be an individual during the pendency of his presidency!
It is my earnest fervent belief one can be opposed to a particular government or regime or leadership without being opposed to the national colors and flag, President Mandela was opposed to Apartheid system of government, but not opposed to the existence of South Africa, African Americans were and are still opposed to oppression and racism, but they are very patriotic and are the first to hoist the American flag! This despite almost a thousand years of the African Americans being oppressed in America! If African Americans can have a scintilla or iota of patriotism, perhaps Nigerians have a great deal to learn from our African American brothers and sisters? Nigeria comparatively a young country, we are coming along, after only 42 year of independence from England.
I frequently wonder about our national colors and flag when I watch citizens of other nations proudly display theirs, especially the Americans! They always bathe themselves in their national colors of red blue and white, look at clothing and apparels, you will notice, look their moon landing planting flag, look their sporting events, look at their political campaigns, think of their sands of Iwojima flag planting, I am jealous of how awash the Americans are in their flag! As A Man Thinketh…. The Americans think highly of themselves, and their flag, even perhaps arrogantly so, But Nigerians have a right to feel the same way about our county and national colors, national symbols and the Nigerian flag.
Not every American is rich, not every American believes their country is fair, but they all rally around their national colors, national symbols and flag, at war or at peacetime. In the news, Nigerians should notice that there are now millions of American flags in Iraq! Flag planting was their first order of business; When Nigeria goes to the moon, we must remember to plant our flag first! If we go to the North or South Pole? Nigerian flag! Americans frequently paint their faces and their bodies with red white and blue during sporting events or elections or protests or they appear to find excuse to flag bathe!
It must be repeated that regimes and leaderships are ephemeral and that our country remains and endures, In my mind there is a huge distinction and clear separation between regimes and leadership and country; So that, a bad regime or leadership is not sufficient a reason to reject a national color, a national symbol or national anthem and flag.
On May 29, 2003 all Nigerians at home and abroad, in government or in opposition, should put our differences aside, we should bury the hatchet and rally round our national colors and symbol and flag! Nigeria deserves to celebrate and jubilate joyfully fly and hoist the Nigerian flag!
God and Allah have always blessed Nigeria and will continue to do so, even more abundantly!