I am sitting on my writing desk at home. There is really nothing to write about. The muses have been pretty elusive these days. At such times as this when I seem to be in a rot, I close my eyes and day dream. I do not day dream about fluffy clouds or the scents of roses or satin sashes. No. I dream about practical things. Like how delightful it would be if the Abuja transportation was a little more efficient and less elitist. I dream about how fulfilling it would be if the suspicious glass ceiling hanging over the heads of Nigerians would magically disappear. And politics would be about issues and not about the scramble for a fast dwindling national cake. Sometimes, in this state of practical dreaminess, I remember the words of Edgar Alan Poe that, “all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” Our dreams and reality are not so different after all. Or to put it in another way, our dreams become our reality.
I decided to set myself to task mercilessly on a quest of sorts. A Don Quixote quest to discover the Nigerian dream. To discover what the Nigerian dream is (or if we had any for that matter), I made a mental resolve to be pragmatic. To be pragmatic, I had to lay down a sort of basis. The Nigerian dream must not be personal like a particular young man who told me that his dream entailed a steaming bowl of pounded yam and a soup generously filled with meat. Another basis is that the dream has to be legal. Someone did tell me that his Nigerian dream was connected to a yahoo letter. This is obviously criminal. The Nigerian dream has to be all encompassing like the American dream. Something abstract yet reachable.
This is another basis worth mentioning. Just like proven theories are ‘replicatable’, one should not be in doubt when he/she has reached that ‘oasis’ that is the Nigerian dream. We must be able to tell that Mr. so, so and so is living the Nigerian dream. I am told that the American dream is based on freedom, the right of her people to strive and work for a better life and an opportunity to be successful and prosperous.
If this is true about the American dream, the Nigerian dream must be about the people. It must be that single thread that links the aspirations of everyone. Seeing how Americans fight for their dream it is pertinent that the one we dream up for ourselves be worth fighting and dying for. So in my Don Quixotic quest, and after carefully weeding out dreams concerning steaming plates of food and other illegal stuff, I have come up with a wish list worth considering.
· A wish that Nigeria conquers poverty, unemployment.
· A wish to end insecurity, looming social vices.
· A wish for an improved power sector
· A wish to be able to finance comfortable standard of living for families
· A wish to leave the shores of Nigeria for greener pastures(technically this wish wouldn’t be necessary if the country provided better opportunities)
· A wish for improved education and health.
· And so on.
In a Nigeria where people have had their guts virtually ripped out as a result of the sad/harrowing sights and experiences they have been exposed to, the wishes above are in order. But the quest for our Nigerian dream is not over yet. We could put all these wishes together and say that the Nigerian dream would be – a country of opportunities where everyone is free to strive, succeed and prosper anywhere they choose to within the country. I had hoped not to play comparison in this post but I realized along the way that it is nearly impossible to explain the intricacies of one concept without citing the other. So I refer to the American dream once again. Though this dream is mostly inferred, there have been countless cases where it was expressed (in language of course). So we must find a way to express ours in a language indigenous to us. The language issue would have been a complex matter considering the myriad of languages available in Nigeria. But this problem was solved by an itinerant musician whom I still remember singing, ‘monkey dey work oo baboon dey chop…”. If I were to be asked what the Nigerian dream ought to be, I would express it as follows:
“In dis country wey we dey, let monkey work, let monkey chop”
Now this is just mine. The search is still on. What is yours?