It is not possible to completely understand or comprehend life; we can only hope to make the best out of it. We often pray for luck or favor and we wish to handle our challenges or frustrations with grace in the face of adversity. We are but humans after all and we can only hope for the best. The philosophies of the origin and purpose of life have spanned generations and there appears to be more ques-
tions than answers. For me, trying to figure out life is an inquest into an endless river and every ounce of energy consumed swimming deeper leaves one more frustrated and exhausted. Spiritual books like the Bible and Koran lend advice about life; also philosophers like Socrates, Confucius, Sigmund Freud and more recently David Stafford-Clark sometimes leave us more perplexed. What ought to be important to us is how to make life more meaningful especially as we enter into a New Year.
We cannot deny that the New Year always ushers hope. The New Year helps us to psychologically wipe the slate clean. We recon we can press the restart button or do better, or do more. And this psychological boost reflects in virtually every area of human existence. For example, a woman with a bad relationship may hope for a new man to start over with or pray the misery experienced in the relationship dies with the old year. An alcoholic or chain smoker believes he would finally kick the habit; a childless woman or jobless man look up to heavens for a change in fate or status; even a bad student who has failed WAEC or JAMB twice fancies her chances in the New Year. Churches provide a ready elixir, and we drink to the messages of hope unashamedly. We christen the New Year with such profound and baroque nomenclatures as Year of Greatness, Year of Higher Ground etc. Truth is this: whether in Doha, Ottawa, Bujumbura or Abuja, the New Year is a harbinger of hope. No matter how bad a situation is, there is resurgence in spirit!
In football, a new season is like a new year and it is fascinating how football fans expect their teams to win trophies when they are not personally involved in the teams’ preparation. This is most typical of Arsenal FC fans who almost always forget the miseries of previous seasons and pray for some mystical force to change their fortune. They (I inclusive) act like Arsenal didn’t just go 7 previous seasons without silverware. We wash Arsene Wenger’s sins away and yet wonder why we are out of every major competition by March. But why should we hope to win anything when Arsene has done nothing different in seven years? The only reason the fans continue in this act of masochism is because the new season offers fresh hope. In the same pattern, we here in Nigerian are ever so quick to forgive the sins of politicians. We do not forgive because we are good, but because it is easier to forgive than take action. We practice negative resilience and tell ourselves we are a strong people. We drink to new lies of hope the politicians tell every year. They tell us the economy grew by about 6% in 2012 and in the New Year it would be more. We do not ask if 6% translates to reduction in poverty in the country. We do not ask if 6% means better road infrastructure. We have forgotten to ask how the recovered subsidy fund was spent. And when we do ask, we do not get a response. We have forgiven Farouk Lawan. He will run for reelection in 2015 and we won’t protest. Why protests, is it our business? One may ask. Didn’t he get himself there by himself in the first place? Another will retort. Unbeknownst to us, we have again mortgaged our future on the altar of “e go better”. I believe that if regular Nigerians had marched to the National Assembly Complex to demand his resignation he won’t be there today (but this is a message for another day). I am resolute in my belief that one of the most effective way to get anything done in our lives especially as a country is if we take responsibly and demand accountability the way we did in January of 2012. That singular action was far better than just hoping. We took our destinies’ in our hands. Don’t get me wrong, hope is good. Faith needs hope to work. But a hope, where we expect things to change without our individual involvement or participation is sheer madness. And so every passing year, hope destroys the future. With passivism and wishful thinking destroying our individual lives and the country at large. Action is required for positive change to occur.
The year 2012 was by far one of the bloodiest years in the nation’s history. Boko Haram murdered Christians in churches virtually weekly and we hope it won’t happen in 2013. Armed youths mulled and killed students in the Mubi and Aluu disasters’, and we hope that 2013 would be better. We have done nothing to understand why these evil prevailed so as to prevent future reoccurrences. We act in the same destructive way and hope our luck shines in times ahead. We would soon forget the floods that ravished people killing many and leaving countless homeless. We would forget we promised to plan against future floods.
The fate of man is one with an endless cycle of vanities. And with nothing new under the sun, it becomes easier to predict 2013. In music, Wizkid and Banky will make us “roll it” in the clubs and more risqué music videos would be churned out. NollyWood would ship out more content bereft movies, but one or two will stand the test of time. A man will marry, makes love to his wife and they will breed children into the world who are more messed up that their parents. CNN, BBC and Aljazeera would be in competition amongst themselves for who reels out the bad news faster. AIT and Channels TV will tell us a former governor made away with 10billion naira before leaving office. The country is redolent with corruption as ever. The EFCC will promise to pursue, to overtake, and of course to recover all. But we know they are lying. The only way they will get near that money is if the thief goes to the plea court and “settles” the matter. We know this is bull shit, but the scam won’t be complete if they didn’t lie. What’s a scam without a lie? We understand and go along with it. “E go better, 2014 will be better”, we tell ourselves. We curse, we scoff, and we vent on Facebook and Twitter. We curse out the president. He doesn’t care. He is after all the Facebook president. His eyes are fixed on 2015. Another year of hope! One church will call it the Year of Redemption! The elections will come and politicians will promise a new fragrance of fresh air- this time it will be jasmine.
Passive hope is but foolishness. Year In year out, the same activities have guided our existence. I do not mean to sound schadenfreude but this seems to be the hand we have been dealt. How do therefore ensure that 2013 is different? How do we break free from the same cycle and who ends it? Again, we may look to the heavens, to metaphysics and philosophy in search of answers. Whatever we decide to embrace; be it asceticism, atheism or hedonism; change is the answer. Change will cause an imbalance in the status quo. We must begin to take our future in our hands. And the way to change the future is by changing our individual lives. Change is hard. Matter of fact, climbing Everest is easy compared to changing anything. It is hard to change. Change is difficult. The British colonial rulers’ resisted change; you will resist the change if your landlord wants to increase the rent; we resisted when the pump price of fuel changed from 65 naira to 97 naira; you resisted change when your wife started denying you the free sex. But what can man do? What will man do? There is no life without change. We must embrace it change. A caterpillar must change into a butterfly. For if we must become butterflies, we must accept that we are not meant to be caterpillars’.
What kind of change do I propose? Nigerians should start practicing what we preach. If we are angry at the bribe scandal between Farouk Lawan and Otedola; then we must not give bribes to LASTMA officers or the attendant at the fuel pump who demands an extra 100 naira so that we can buy fuel in jerry-cans. But how will we power our generator, you may ask me? Well, I didn’t say change was easy. But we can’t achieve anything without changing ourselves. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was possible in the 1950’s because regular folks decided not to take the bus. They walked to their destinations for over one year! They didn’t just wait for Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jnr. to fight for them, they took personal responsibility. The bible admonishes us to “be doers and not just hearers of the word”. So we can’t afford to sit at home and abuse politicians for inflating budgets when house wives do exactly the same to their husbands in their own corner.
This kind of change can be slow but if we commit to it and teach our children and they in turn their own children, we would have less thieves, and corrupt politicians and murderers’ like the ones in Aluu in the future. Change must include looking beyond ourselves. We must resolve to do good to our fellow man. We must help the poor among us. There are damn too many anyways. The majority of us are poor but there are poorer people. If you can afford to pay your DSTV bill monthly, then you shouldn’t close your eyes at kids without slippers- children we know never go to school. We may know a teenager who is certain to be a prostitute the way she is leading her life now. A soft word, a good counsel might save her. Yes, she’s not your daughter, but you could be of help. We can take a second from our lives and think about doing good to someone else. That’s the change I propose. That’s the change I seek in 2013. That is true living. The one the Christ preached. This will make 2012 different from all the other years gone by. I pray you join me in this adventure; for in it lay true fulfillment. For true happiness and satisfaction in this life is how able we are to impact the lives of others for good.
©2012 Ewoigbokhan Otaigbe
ItuaLive! has officially moved to WordPress. I thank you all for reading my posts every time I share on Facebook or Twitter. Blogging for two years knowing you will always read it has been both encouraging and humbling. ItuaLive! was 2 years in October with over 24,000 hits! The move to WordPress is to enable me respond to comments better and avail myself to the technology WordPress offers. The Blogger account would still run and would be used for some other project in the future.
I want to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous 2013. God bless you all.