By Debbie Olujobi
A Sad State Of Freedom. Optimism is a choice I make as a way of life. I have always thought no matter how dark the night, dawn would break and bring light. Survival is and will always be the name of the game, the trick is to remain standing against the odds and just wait, to make time a friend and let it bring healing and new opportunities!
Optimism is the poor man’s elixir and at this point in the history of my country Nigeria, I could do with a massive dose of it. We endured years of tyranny under military rule and waited with baited breathe for democracy. We, the Nigerian people would take our place in the league of nations and stand proud, we would enjoy all the dividends of freedom and begin our ascent from 3rd to 1st world.
With our teeming population we would be the market the world needed, with our abundance of natural and human resources we were bound to be the bride of the world or so we thought. We got freedom, we took the steps into democracy and those dreams are dying; we are a lot worse off than ever; what a sad state of freedom.
It seems we have exchanged taskmasters and remain static and unprogressive for all that our democracy cost! It cost blood; so much blood was shed to attain what we now are not enjoying and optimism is ebbing. Recent events reveal corruption so endemic that watching the local news is depressing and hope destroying. I worry for the next generation, I worry for my generation; even through the most rose tinted glass, things are looking grim.
The government cost more than the people and even the american president who is arguably the most powerful man on the planet apparently earns less than a member of the house of representatives! The level of injustice is mind boggling.
A politician or bank magnate steals in the billions and is given a soft sentence of a few years or even unpunished while a poor man can be executed by firing squad or even sent away for life for stealing less than a $1000. The fabric of nationhood is tattered and torn and I wonder just how much we can take. This is not the democracy/freedom we fought so hard for; this government of a few against the people.
I came across a poem that captures what I believe are the sentiments of a majority of Nigerians. It was written before the nigerian situation but it is accurate in its grasp of our new found reality under democracy.
A Sad State Of Freedom by Nazim Hikmet
You waste the attention of your eyes,
the glittering labour of your hands,
and knead the dough enough for dozens of loaves
of which you’ll taste not a morsel;
you are free to slave for others—
you are free to make the rich richer.
The moment you’re born
they plant around you
mills that grind lies
lies to last you a lifetime.
You keep thinking in your great freedom
a finger on your temple
free to have a free conscience.
Your head bent as if half-cut from the nape,
your arms long, hanging,
your saunter about in your great freedom:
with the freedom of being unemployed.
You love your country
as the nearest, most precious thing to you.
But one day, for example,
they may endorse it over to nought,
and you, too, with your great freedom—
you have the freedom to become an air-base.
You may proclaim that one must live
not as a tool, a number or a link
but as a human being—
then at once they handcuff your wrists.
You are free to be arrested, imprisoned
and even hanged.
There’s neither an iron, wooden
nor a tulle curtain
in your life;
there’s no need to choose freedom:
you are free.
But this kind of freedom
is a sad affair under the stars.