The older generations of Nigerians were born into an ‘active’ situation. They were young in the days when Nigeria was fighting to break loose from colonial masters.
They didn’t need to read The Communist Manifesto, Das Capital or hear about Castro, Sankara, Cabral, Mandela, Nkrumah, Che, etc; they only needed to see how fierce the dictators were and how stringent their decrees were to get into the streets and fight. They didn’t need to be taught the effects of capitalism and imperialism; they lived and breathed it.
As a result, today, hardly will you see someone from the older generation that hasn’t participated in a protest. Hardly can you meet someone from the older generation that doesn’t have a tale of arrest and imprisonment. Hardly will you see someone from the older generation that hasn’t in his younger days been an active participant in politics.
After they successfully broke free from the colonial masters and successfully ousted the military, the different colors started showing. Freedom fighters dumped their guns, activists forsook the streets and joined the race to establish democracy. Even those who went on exile came back with their ‘struggle CV’ in order to get their names written in Nigeria’s liberation history.
Gradually, divisions began to occur; those who fought side by side during the colonial era and civil wars, those who marched together on the streets in defiance of the military’s threat of arrest, imprisonment and death; they suddenly started seeing their ‘comrades-in-arms’ exhibiting traits they collectively fought to eradicate.
Eventually, they had to return to the streets; this time, not to fight the foreign powers or the military; it was to confront the people they once fought with side by side. Protest after protests, strike after strikes and surprisingly, their one-time comrades met them with the same brute force which they confronted together in the era of the military.
Those who joined the bandwagon grew everyday into an advanced evil version of those they once fought and evolved more cruel ways to deal with dissenting voices. Those who chose to remain on the part of the majority had to battle with people who knew how they thought, how they planned and what steps they would take.
Today, the younger generation has continued to tread the path that the elders trod. Today’s youths will rent not just their voice to the highest bidder, but will sell their pen and youthful energy to the highest bidder. Unlike the older generation that grew into active engagement, today’s youths hardly participated in any major struggle, they were born at a time when we were being sold the lie called democracy.
The world over, those who changed the course of history didn’t do it when they were old, gray and close to the grave; they did when they were young, agile and full of life. Today’s youths must take cognizance of that fact and stop living a life of delusion thinking they would ever be offered a chance to lead; they must wake up and realize that in this game of life, history has taught us that no one is going to hand you the baton; you’re going to have to wrest it from them. Today’s youths are just tools and they will continue to be just that until they step away from the sidelines straight into the tracks and wrest the baton from the old and worn runners.
Today’s youths must stop trying to suck up to those who have chosen to join the bandwagon of the oppressors. Today’s youths must stop defining progress according to the definition of those who sold out their own people for a morsel of bread. There can be a new Nigeria and the youths will champion that move; but it has to be a set of youths who have resolved not to sell their voice and youthful energy.
Remember, a new Nigeria is possible, we must never give up on that dream.
Follow me on twitter: @hullerj; Google +: James Ogunjimi; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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