Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tears of 9ja

I am sad today.  I am sad for Nigeria.  It is a beautiful country full of sparkling people.  Sure, they do yell a bit – watch any Nollywood film, they really do talk like that – but every Nigerian I’ve met has been super generous.  From the colleagues at the office to the people who opened their homes to me and the strangers on the street who welcomed me to their country, Nigerians love to share, their world, themselves.

The country has had a rough history.  It’s known the world over for corruption and scams.  Internet scams are so highly associated with Nigeria that their name even comes from the Nigerian criminal code, 419.  They’re civil war, only 50 years ago, is still fairly palatable.  - Half of  a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adiche gives a superb insight into this part of history.  -   There’s been military coups and a stream of changing governments.  So many hardships it’s almost easy to shrug off new difficulties.

Yet this past month, the craziness Nigeria is facing seem to be too much.  Is it because of the sheer number of people kidnapped in the school girls’ kidnapping?  Is it because the bomb blasts are now just outside the capital instead of in some far off corner of the north?  Is it because there’s so much happening at the same time?  Is it because all this horribleness comes in the middle of and over shrouds the great news of Nigeria becoming Africa’s largest economy, of Abuja hosting the World Economic Forum on Africa, of Dangote cement expanding into other countries?  Is it because the death, destruction and fear are finally making US news?

I don’t know.  All I know is, my heart is hurting and I feel as powerless as the mothers crying out for President Goodluck’s help.   Albeit with far less pain because no stranger can ever feel their pain.  I worry about my friends, as selfish as it is to care more for them than their country-mates.  I worry about Nigeria as an economy and a country.  I worry what such violence and instability means for the region and the continent. 

I even worry for my own country – what will we be pulled into when the harm is so high we can no longer stay away.  There is talk that America is going to help look for the missing girls.  I have no idea what this help will look like.  Will it turn into another war on extremist Muslims?  A new excuse for groups like Boko Haram to attack the West in the West?  I do not know.

There is a lot I don’t know.  Only that I am sad.  How wonderful a walk down Abuja’s sunny streets would feel right now.DSCI0887

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