Friday, October 03, 2008

Yesterday, my teacher wept as he recounted the tale of how the remains of enslaved Africans were laid to rest in lower Manhattan after having been exhumed in the early 90s by chance during thr construction of a major landmark in New York. He did not bawl. Tears simply ran down his face as he discussed ancestors for the Africans all over the world. He spoke with pride about how Howard University was selected to conduct the research and forensic study simply because it was the only school the supporters of the cause could think of with black scientists they felt they could trust to conduct the research without influence and tampering.

For many years, the bodies resided on the campus while undergraduate, graduate, faculty and visiting scholars painstakingly tried to piece together whatever history they could on the remains they had found. He described the interment ceremony with emotion and how the bodies journeyed through all the predominantly black states on the east coast in coffins handcarved from Ghana and lined with handwoven kente cloth. It was a wonderful tale. He ended by saying that one day, we--the students--will be called upon to stand for something and in that moment of decision we will realise what our training/education/degree had been for.


It got me thinking about my country whose birthday had just past. For the past four three years of my being here, I celebrated Nigeria's independence day with much more vigor and enthusiasm than I had done my whole life. I would put on my nicest African fabric, braving the fall weather to brand myself as someone in celebration of my countries efforts. I never really thought of those who might have died so I could have a country but I would think of those who continue the struggle because they have decided to stand for something. They stand for their country, their nation and their people. They know what their training is for and that is their lives calling.


This year, I did not carry my portable shrine of fabric on my skin. I did not show up at any of the many parties being thrown around the city (not that I ever went: there is just something not so appropriate about dry humping in the name of independence) and I did not sit painstakingly texting everyone in my phone book and wishing them a happy independence day. Funny enough, neither did they. I did not rush to my blog to put a post displaying my e-patriotism. It was just an ordinary day. Me, and all my issues trudging through the cycle of it, hoping to get to the next one not as bruised as one feared. And the situation at home unchanging.


We are 48. And so? What have we done to show that we remember those who fought so we wouldn't have to? What have we done to take the name forced on us and brand it a superior identity? Not much.


But still....it is home. A forty eight year old home whose foundations are still there but whose structure is bending in the wind.


Happy birthday old girl. Everything is going to be okay....

20 comments:

maitumbi said...

Just asking, Catwalq, who fought for us?

I know we sing "the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain" . That phrase is like a Dan Brown riddle to me. Nigerian Heroes?

I am still searching for one.

bumight said...

very well written. I would not be dry-humping in the name of independence either, not for lack of desire, but duty calls this weekend :)

@maitumbi: there are "heroes" who fought for Nigeria: Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Herbert Macauley, Tafawa Balewa and the rest of them. there is a reason why their not-so-pretty faces continue to adorn our currency.

geisha.song. said...

i rather like to think we're 48 years trying to get the foundation right. we have no structure yet...

Naapali said...

"there is just something not so appropriate about dry humping in the name of independence"

- pray tell
- happy birthday in advance!
- u ma are looking good for a 48 yr old :-)

Kafo said...

i'm with you
i didn't do anything patriotic it was just another day and i was consumed with all that i thought was important

i'm thinking about being proud of nigeria and for one second i do not hesistate.
it is the blood that flows thru our veins, nigeria might still be a poverty stricken country but anywhere you go you meet nigerians who are proud to be nigerians

so yeah we might have failed the country but we have i think served it's people by giving them a history worthy of remembrance, the last couple of decades not really but we are not limited to our 48 years of faux independence from those who tried to stifle our passion we are more than 48 years

Queen of My Castle said...

I agree...very nicely written.

Jaycee said...

I feel as though there was silence amongst Nigerians in the diaspora on October 1st. I didn't receive the usual hulla-baloo of texts as usual, neither did I attend any festivities.

But I dreamed of change...change that I want to see in my generation.

Thanks for sharing the story of enslaved Africans and the interment of their bodies...

bArOquE said...

nice truth...but whichever way we look at it, Nigeria is our country & we cannot but be proud...find any reason to be...maybe not all, but at least i speak for most of us when i say, as bad as it may be, this country has made us what we are today, wherever we may live...truth is, i'm not particluar excited about thoughts of Nigeria (she doesnt give me reason to) but i love my country...people, love her & not let her die

48 GBOZAZ TO OUR GREAT NIGERIA!

bumight said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

long life and prosperity. may all your dreams come true..
may all your teachers give u "A's" this semester...

Naapali said...

Happy Birthday! We are waiting in the parking lot C, Provo, Utah airport.

geisha said...

hey we hear it's your birthday...
have a great one babe.

Ekoakete said...

I stopped celebrating Nigerian independence a long time ago. What's there to celebrate?

I hear it's your birthday. Hope you had a wonderful day. Many happy returns!

ibiluv said...

Nigeria go berra......

happy birthday!!!!!!!

maitumbi said...

@bumight, you just listed the first generation of tribalist that laid the foundation for our state of underdevelopment. Not a single one of them was ever persecuted for "fighting" for us. My history book even tells me that at least one of them countered the first motion for independence, because they were not yet ready.

When we start visiting the graves of Tai Solarin, Fela and Isaac Boro on Independece Day, we'll know which way this country is heading to...

Jaybabe said...

Hey babes, am glad you stopped by and i must say yeah, it feels good to be home. I'm doing the rounds now in Blogville, tryina catch up.

You been fine right?

Jaybabe said...

Geee! came back from reading that. So much i didnt know sef. Perfectly written. Well written i meant to say..

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

Hapy birthday... well to you first... Nigeria second... how u doing luv?

N.I.M.M.O said...

Happy birthday to you and Nigeria.

Belated though but heartfelt all the same. To both of you.

@maitumbi: I'm glad you are able to recognize at least two people. It is good. Celebrate them even if their faces are not on the naira notes. Let not their labours be in vain.

Believe, my friend. Believe.

InCogNaija said...

yes girl! everything is going to be okay!!!

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