By Debbie Olujobi
They say home is where the heart is and that normally assumes a home is a place. A place where one can lay a weary head, find some emotional and physical nourishment and retreat from the world to refresh and re energise. In the process of my personal evolution I have concluded that a home does not necessarily have to be a place; a physical location.
If home is where the heart really is then it could mean that a home could be a country, person or even an event. The heart in its spiritual and emotional form is a strange organ as it feeds off feelings aroused by passion whether it be love or hate and it dictates where one’s home is.
A lot of people live very unhappily in palaces and this is where I draw a most timely difference between a house and a home. A house is a building that provides shelter and it can be decrepit or grand, it doesn’t mean much to its occupants, the heart is not its nucleus. A home on the other hand is a place put together by a huge emotional investment; often demanding great and continuous sacrifice; the heart is its nucleus.
Emotions run very high in homes because people care a great deal, so they laugh, cry, shout and fight but they remain very vested in the home. A house on the other hand can be a very sterile and an even polite environment; you have to care to cry or laugh or even bother to shout or fight; emotions are totally unnecessary in a house; it means nothing to its occupants so it is unaffected by love or hate.
My home is situated in Nigeria; country of my birth, the treading grounds kings and warriors of old. A land blessed with a rich cultural tapestry, great archaeological treasures, resplendent in human and mineral resources. It is the nation of the set apart and the stand alone; you can tell a Nigerian apart from any black person; they say we are cocky; I say we are confident and not intimidated by anything or anyone; they say we are loud, I call it exuberant; we are a bubbling people.
The Nigerian spirit is a never say die spirit! We don’t give up or give in; we adapt and we survive. There are the obvious challenges of corruption and lack of advancement but a Nigerian at home or in diaspora remains a Nigerian; maybe it’s something in the water or in the air but Nigeria is the home of all Nigerians, its where our heart is no matter the situation or circumstance.
If home is where the heart is and Naija (a fond nickname) remains the home of all Nigerians we are going to need life support real soon. Lately our home has become a place where blood is shed and our passions are running at a height of volcanic velocity; hate is in the air. The different cultures and tribes have co- existed for centuries and I pray that we remember that brotherhood is still the key to our corporate survival.
One of the things I looked forward to when democracy finally returned to us was the restoration of national pride. In the course of my work, I have the opportunity to visit places near and far and it’s not always a thing of pride to carry the green passport. One is presumed to be a thief or a fraud and a special brand of humiliation is meted by immigration officials and other foreign government authorities.
There are countries where Nigerians are openly targeted and killed. Most of us had thought democracy would mean that those in diaspora would come back home and we could all build a country together we could be proud off. If indeed Nigeria is the heart of all of us who call it home then we are having myocardial infarction; that’s a big name for a heart attack.
The soap opera that is our government plays out on television daily. In these days of technological advancement our shame is not limited to NTA; the whole world watches us in disgust and dismay as opportunities and resources are squandered with ignominy! Democracy is flat on its face and is being redefined as a government of a few to destroy the land and its people. Those who spew integrity and honour have none and they hide behind those who expose the failings of a few and cover atrocities of the powerful.
History will judge those who have contributed to the tearing of our national cloth in their thirst for power and riches. Your armoured cars and fenced off palaces will not save you from the wrath of the curse you bring on yourselves with the shedding of innocent blood; starvation will not depart from your houses as you feed off the fat of the people. I try not to be despondent but it’s hard to play the ostrich and ignore the desecration of my home. Brings to mind the song I sang as a youth anytime I travelled away from home.
Home my home 2ce, When shall I see my home, when shall I see my native land, I will never forget my home.
My brothers at home, my sisters at home, when shall I see my home, When shall I see my native land; I will never forget my home.
It feels very sad to be home and not feel at home; Nigeria my beloved country; the place of revelry and thunderous laughter is evolving into the land of suspicion and melancholy. I wonder whether it even qualifies to be called a home! But then it was never qualification that makes the home; it is the heart, the passion it elicits and the sacrifices it demands. These are demanding days and we all should remember that there will never be another home like our home…