It’s a wonder—it seems like an alarming number of nations in Africa are behind the whole world. Have you pondered why Nigeria in particular is faced with the challenge of “truly” pacing up to other worlds? Has it ever crossed your mind why in our bid to rise to the place of glory, where we truly belong, we call on the West or for a solution? I guess you wouldn’t wonder anymore if you ever had the opportunity to take a trip off the shores of Africa into worlds unknown.
I believe many of you are familiar with the swindling but favoured fellow named Jacob, and also the swindling slave driver, Laban. That is for fellows who didn’t skip Sunday School to spend time with the ice-cream vendor at the church gates. Well even if you can’t remember or, by any chance, you are of a different religion, let me school you.
Jacob was a fellow who spent 20 pretty good years serving his uncle Laban, of which 14 years were served to earn the cost of the dowry paid on Laban’s 2 daughters, Leah and Rachel, while the other 6 were spent working for Laban’s flock. Leaving in the 20th year, he would have left with NOTHING but mere wages for his labour. It didn’t matter that Laban was enriched because of Jacob. Being the smart man Jacob didn’t ask for a wage, which I believe the average Nigerian would have, but made a pact for increase through innovation. He made a pact to take of Laban’s flock, the spotted, speckled and dark coloured flock. The twist of the story is this: Laban removed all of his livestock that was spotted, speckled and dark coloured and handed them over to his sons, leaving Jacob without. Did this stop Jacob from being productive? Absolutely not. He rather decided to be innovative. “He took branches of fresh poplar, almond, and plane wood, peeled the bark, exposing white stripes on the branches. He set the peeled branches in the troughs in front of the sheep – in the water channels where the sheep came to drink.” (Genesis 30: 38 HCSB Version) The sheep had often bred at the troughs and, when they bred, they sure as heaven bred (produced) what they saw—streaked, speckled and spotted. Now, tell me about producing what I see!
My friend, do you still wonder? It’s plain simple and not rocket science. The sheep gave birth in likeness of what their tinny little eyes saw before them. If all I see is dirty old buildings, I will surely produce dirty old strategies. When I drive and can’t see the sun from the clouds because it is all blocked out by the dust and fumes regurgitated by the cars and roads within my sphere, how do you expect me to produce “clarity”?
Exercise they say, like a refreshing road walk, gives clarity of mind and invigorates a new sense of strength and purpose. Well! That may be true only if I am walking on the streets of Florida or walking by the water front in Cape Town. For crying out loud, where do you suppose I take that refreshing road walk? Is it on the dusty, old noise polluted Ogba street where no allocation for a side walk has been created, where all I hear is the blaring beep of the horn of a Keke Marwa or the annoying curses of the danfo driver beside me?
Do I need to say that rather than focusing my mind on the next big innovation I should be creating, I am sure focusing on how to avoid the side sway of the reckless okada driver. Please, please, I am so tired of experiencing the strains that affect my ability to produce. The thought alone is enough to cause my tummy to churn vehemently giving the not-so-good doctor another opportunity to recommend the ever popular Panadol for this tummy ache.
I recently got back from a vacation overseas and I was in tip-top shape. Soon I craved to take another trip barely a week away, which my tightly sown pocket could no longer afford, as the cost of one trip is enough to give a cardiac arrest from the financial meltdown of one’s bank account. Speaking to a few of my friends and colleagues, I found out I wasn’t alone in this euphoria. Tell me, if you will, you may conduct a research for yourself, how many Americans are frequent vacationers outside their country? How many French people do you find vacationing on the shores of Singapore? I am not saying there aren’t any, I am just saying they are obviously fewer than the number of Nigerians vacationing in a family member’s house in the UK or taking a quick spin on an Emirates flight to Dubai because visa issuance is relatively easy. This is simply because the environment they need to think better is right before their very eyes.
Let’s face it, should we at this point in our national lives, be defining a vacation as sleeping over in cramped housing in London or in the the apartment of a relative in the projects of New York? Please excuse my bluntness, I apologise if this offends you, but I think it’s time we think for a change and go “World & Innovation Seeing” rather than “Wall Seeing” in mummy shade’s mortgaged house in London.
Whatever happened to a trip to the Grand Canyon in the state of Arizona, USA to experience nature in its grandeur? Or even the black rocks of Pungo Angogo in neighbouring Angola? Has it ever occurred to you to take a vacation to the Colosseum in Rome and marvel at architecture in its ancient and finest form? Or visit the natural earthworks of the Stonehenge in the very same English country most visited by Nigerians. I am thinking big, I am seeing massive; what do you see?
Pardon my unruly deviation from the core issue; let’s just say that’s a story for another day.
I hear about the 7 Wonders of the World, including the wonders of Canada, the wonders of Poland, the wonders of Wales, even the wonders of Angola! Where are the wonders of Nigeria? Is it Aso Rock? Or the down trodden area of Ajegunle, or the eye-sore-madic express way from Lagos to Ibadan filled with potholes, or the horrific drainage system that gives us a special bank holiday when the cloud wishes to pour out its vengeance on Lagos or Ibadan? Okay, let me not be all too brutal. Yes, we have Idanre Hills, which is painstaking to get to because of the horrific state of our expressway, and the Zuma Rock, which is inaccessible due to scorpion infestation. Even at that, can these really pass off as a part of an iconic 7 Wonders? There was a time when the Lagos National Theatre was a huge national icon; it was a sight to behold, but now?
Years have passed and the very same edifice of the glory days is as decrepit as can be. I have ideas so grandeur for a resuscitation of our pride and joy which did come by staring into aluminum roof sheets. It is a surprise that the personal interest of some may never let such ideas see the light of day for flimsy bureaucratic reasons. Please be informed that when I refer to personal interest, I do not mean of persons in government, but the likes of you and me. So stop nodding your head and saying Aha! For we are all to blame, not only the government, as the people in government are but a reflection of the populace.
So guys, where are my 7 wonders, where would be my green filled lawn to call my happy place. People, I wonder, I just wonder!
Deola Paul-Inyang is the Centre Director, Resource Villa International