By Femi Aribisala
TWO days to another October 1 independence anniversary, and all is bleak and depressing on the Nigerian front. No self-congratulatory messages. No stadium march-pass and celebrations. All we are getting is a steady diet of prison-rations: “Nigeria is corrupt.” “The treasury is empty.” “Recession is knocking at the door.” With all the attendant political hullaballoo; you get the impression that even the very country called Nigeria is going to be probed and sent to jail.
But the saying goes: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This is no time to drown ourselves in the Slough of Despond. This is the time to dig deep and encourage ourselves. This is the time to remind ourselves who we are. We are Nigerians and that means a lot more than the four-one-niners and the yahoo-yahoo maestros. There is something different; something wonderful; something special about Nigerians. Whatever the situation, we must never forget to celebrate who we are.
That is why, on this 55th independence anniversary of Nigeria, it is exciting to find national inspiration from an unusual source. While our president goes to the United Nations and bemoans, once again our corruption; while a political civil war has been declared between the presidency and the legislature by the mischievous embarrassment of the Senate president; a little-known voice from our burgeoning music industry decided it is time to celebrate our Nigerian-ness.
Nigeria’s new music
Nigeria’s new music sensation, EBISAN, has come out with her new single; just in time for our October 1 independence anniversary. It is entitled “THE NIGERIANS” and it provides tonic to our weary national soul. Thank God, Ebisan does not dwell on our struggles at national integration. She does not insist on the hemorrhage of our corruption. She does not bring out another litany of our misgivings, our doubts and our despair.
Surely, we need a holiday from all of this for a change. What she gives us is a new national anthem; a new rallying-cry to remember who we are. We are Nigerians for heaven’s sake, and even in these difficult times, that is more than enough.
Mighty Nigerians: “Everywhere we go; People always ask us; Who we are; And we always tell them: We are Nigerians; Mighty Mighty Nigerians. And if they can’t hear us, Then we’ll shout a little louder.”
When I heard this single for the first time, I was inspired. I thought: “That’s telling!” Then I thought about it again. Who are we really? The answer is so simple, it easy to forget. It is so simple, it can easily be overlooked. It is so simple, we need every so often to remind ourselves. We are Nigerians. We are Nigerians. Thank God, we are Nigerians.
There are certain inevitabilities about Nigeria and Nigerians. Our country has a manifest destiny to be one of the greatest countries in the world. In spite of everything, Nigeria remains a miracle waiting to happen. That miracle is not going to be worked by foreign investment. It is going to be worked by Nigerians, because, when all is said and done, we are a very resourceful people. It is not only with regard to the people of Warri: the time is coming when Nigerians will refuse to carry last.
Incredible Nigerians: “Every day we get better; There’s so much that they need to know like; Every day we get stronger; It’s amazing the way we grow. Yes we are, we are incredible,”
It’s not for nothing that we are the largest Black Country on the planet. It’s not for nothing that we are now the biggest economy in Africa. It is not for nothing that Hakeem Bello-Osagie is a Nigerian. Aliko Dangote is a Nigerian. Olisa Agbakoba is a Nigerian. Udoma Udo Udoma is a Nigeria. Odein Ajumogobia is a Nigerian. Jide Akintunde is a Nigerian. Patrick Utomi is a Nigerian.
Nigeria’s greatest assets are Nigerians. In every walk of life, at home and abroad; Nigerians excel. Everywhere and anywhere, you will find us in the Premier League.
Q: What is so incredible about Nigerians?
Ebisan: There are so many things but I’ll mention just two. The way we deal with adversity is amazing to me. When going through tough times or hard conditions, we refuse to have a defeatist attitude. I believe Nigerians are the most resilient people in the world. The second thing about us that I love is that wherever you go, you always know when there’s a Nigerian around. We stand out; we are a unique and are very special people and we need to apply our smartness to more positive things.
“So when they come a little closer; They are blown away by the skills we show them. No we don’t act like we’re supposed to; We take the lead, no follow follow; ’Cause we are, we are, we are incredible.”
Nigerians are a completely different kettle of black Africans. We have not been brow-beaten by colonialism or apartheid. We are not intimidated by Western prowess.
The Nigerian psychology refuses to accept the myth that the black man is somehow intellectually inferior to the white man. You can see this in operation everywhere. The Nigerian stands shoulder to shoulder vis-à-vis whites and Westerners and, in many cases, bests them. We only become second-best when we come together as a team, as a people and as a country. But all that will pass.
Q: What are the potentials you currently see in Nigeria?
Ebisan: More SMEs are being set up, there is more competition within the service industry, and I also see that my generation is producing a lot more entrepreneurs. The mindset is changing and we are aware that our oil will not last forever. Other industries such as the entertainment and fashion industries are rapidly growing and even attracting foreign interest. There is a lot happening around us to make me optimistic about where we are heading.
Game- changing Nigerians
“So tell me do you feel me now; We are changing the game over and over; You know there’s no denying; We are on our way to the stars.”
Nigeria confounds every dire prognostication. The news of the disintegration of Nigeria has been highly exaggerated. We were not supposed to survive 2015. But we are still here. We are still on our way; and we remain the only hope for the black man in the comity of nations.
Q: What gives you the impression Nigeria is on the way to the top?
Ebisan: Perhaps it’s the optimist in me but I truly sense that we are on a general quest for change, real tangible change. If we were ever guilty of complacency in the past, I feel it is no longer the case.
A lot has happened this year that has made me feel very hopeful about where we are going as a nation, from the way the elections were carried out to the enlightened conversations I have had with different individuals. We know we have a long road ahead but we are willing to be better.
Q: What is currently holding Nigeria back?
Ebisan: We need more people to step up and play their part, however small it may be. The onus is not only on the government to make changes. Great nations are built from individuals taking personal responsibility for the growth of their country and optimizing their gifts and opportunities. Constant complaints with little action do none of us any good.
Bold Nigerians: “Look at the way we talk; Look at the way we walk. We hold our heads up high; Far too bold to be shy.”
If a Nigerian is somewhere, you will know. Someone told me that Nigerians are even easily recognizable at immigration posts all around the world. He says they know we are the only black Africans who look you straight in the eye without batting an eyelid. We fear no one. We are as bold as a lion. I never quite liked the logo of an elephant. Something heavy and ungainly about that. But we are better represented by the eagle. We are ready to soar, even into the eye of the storm.
Q: What are you trying to achieve with this single?
Ebisan: I want us to remember how awesome we are as a people whenever we listen to the song. I wrote ‘THE NIGERIANS’ to remind fellow Nigerians that there is nothing we cannot overcome because we are bold, fearless people. I want people to be proud of their roots whenever they listen to the song. To remember that they are Nigerians first! So that whether you are in heavy traffic in Lagos, selling on the streets of Benin, mining in Nasarawa, or cooking white soup in Calabar; a smile will cross your face as soon as this song comes up.
Happy birthday, Nigeria
Q: Tell us about your new single, “THE NIGERIANS” and why you wrote it. Ebisan: I usually write love songs and am generally inspired by love, this single is not far off from that. I love my country (I no go lie…hahaha) and I decided to write about it. Some people meet us and wonder why we have the audacity to be so bold, some people are endeared to us, either way it is never a lukewarm feeling. We conjure up strong emotions in whomever we meet and that’s intriguing to me. I decided to write about it.
Q: Do you intend to write other songs about Nigeria?
Ebisan: I already have another song I wrote about Nigeria years ago, I am considering releasing that in the future as part of my upcoming album.
Q: How come your single can be downloaded for free?
Ebisan: My single can only be streamed for free but not downloaded for free. It is for sale on iTunes and all other online music stores.