“Human rights nah my property, so therefore, you can’t dash me my property.”

These lyrics have been stuck in my head for weeks. I knew it was a Fela song, but wasn’t quite sure of the context. I finally got around to researching and found that the song is called “Beast of No Nation”. In this song, Fela explains that animals in human skin (referring to Nigerian leaders) don’t have the capacity to give human rights, only humans can. And even at that, Nigerians are entitled to human rights, so it makes no sense to give to people what is already theirs. Anyway, I digress a little, but would really encourage every Nigerian to not just hear, but also digest the lyrics of this song.Now, to the point of this article.

I was speaking with a good friend of mine and was expressing my dissatisfaction with the lack of activism and communal living in Nigeria. I recall saying something along the lines of: “there’s no Fela in Nigeria now. Everyone’s just out for their pockets; no one genuinely speaking on behalf of the people”. And my friend’s reply, which really struck me, was this: “there’s a bit of Fela in each of us”. pause and ponder, we’ll come back to this one.I’ve found that we Nigerians have a bad habit of not only blaming the government for a lot of our woes, but also believing that change will only come from God. Yes, our politicians have taken corruption to the next level, but aren’t we contributing to this corrupt system when we bribe airport officials to get in front of the line? Or when we pay security guards to illegally park our cars, even though we know it’s wrong? I want all of us blaming the government to take a step back for a minute, and ponder on this question: What have I done for my country lately? And am I contributing to this mess that we are in? Yes, a lot of the things we complain about are government responsibilities, but does that mean that we should continue to wait until the inefficient leaders we have do something? Definitely not!You’re probably wondering “well, Efe, what can I do without the government?” I’m glad you asked. While volunteering with one of my favourite organisations, I met a top-ranking official (lets call him Yo) who works for the World Bank. Yo explained that he lives in a really fancy neighbourhood, but once he gets out, the surrounding areas aren’t as good and look very filthy especially during the weekends. So once a month, Yo buys big trash bags and goes to the filthy neighbourhood during the day to pick-up as much of the trash as he can. After our conversation, he was convinced that his efforts could have a larger impact if he’d just get his community involved. Now here’s a man making a difference without the help of any government.

I do believe that there’s a little bit of Fela in each us. That spirit that enables us see the woes in Nigeria, and at times, allows us to speak up. But lets take it to the next level. For starters, let us stop expecting God to come down from His throne to solve the issues of Nigeria. God works through people. Let us also stop blaming the government! We are fully aware that the government isn’t functioning at its optimal level. But we now, hopefully after reading this, know that we have a role, no, a duty, to help our country in anyway possible. Like my acquaintance, Yo, let us find ways that we can impact our communities without necessarily going through the government. Start something! The aim of this all is not only to cushion the ineffectiveness of our government for communities, and ourselves, but also to stop contributing to the problems of our country. Because our individual contributions can cause tangible change.

And so, my fellow Nigerians, I leave you with the famous words of John Kennedy, ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

  1. Efe this is lovely!An Inspiring early monday read

  2. Great point Efe! We are so prone to complaining about conditions in Nigeria without understanding that we, collectively, have the power the power to make the changes that we would like to see. I like that quote, there is a bit of Fela in everyone of us, I hope! Our problem is that after complaining we become comfortable and things that we once saw as problems become a cultural norm. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, we are all in different places in life and have different platforms. I believe that we, as individual Fela’s, all have a small platform that can contribute to this process of change. (Efe, this is one!)

    1. Kome G

      Exactly, Emiola. We are now accepting silly stuff as the norm and that shouldn’t be! I completely agree that everyone should do what they can, and at the bare minimum, stop contributing to the mess. It’s easier said than done, but if pursued by many, can go a long way…

  3. I totally agree. There is a bit of fela in all of us . The only problem is we turn a blind eye to all our problems and like u said , we wait for God to come down from his throne to help us . I totally agree with u. God helps us thru people . We should all contribute one way or the other to d building of our nation

    1. Exactly, Sandra. It’s quite funny because after having intense convos on the direction Nigeria is going, I find myself saying “God will help us”. It just seems like so much work to begin to solve the issues of Nigeria. But we will start from somewhere and stop expecting God to come down from Heaven to turn our blessed country around…

  4. Great piece Efe.
    Good to hear from you after a long while in this style!
    You raise so many great points i this piece. One that I love so much is that God works through people. When we turn our eyes away and choose not to do something about the ill situations, we forget that we are misrepresenting God. People are actually supposed to see God through us- we forget that we should do exactly what He would do. We forget that we are the salt of the earth; that means that the earth would remain distasteful if we continue to fail to unleash our flavor- (or our Fela as you have put it.
    We must put aside all those excuses- I haven’t got the time; the money; what would people say; and all of those and brace up to the noble task of community building.
    A group of friends and I; and I’m sure soo many others out there have started doing something with the little we/they have and I join you in encouraging many others to join in.
    Let me leave with this piece from John Maxwell’s book:
    “Years ago, I cam across a piece about someone who fell into a pit and couldn’t get out- and how others treated the person:
    A subjective person came along and said, “I feel for you down there”
    An objective person came along and said, “well, its logical that someone would fall down there”
    A Pharisee said, “Only bad people fall into pits”
    A mathematician calculated how the individual fell into the pit
    A fundamentalist said, “You deserve your pit”
    A calvinist said, “If you’d been saved, you’d never have fallen in that pit”
    An Armenian said, “You were saved and still fell in that pit”
    A Charismatic said, “Just confess that you’re not in that pit”
    A realist came along and said, “Now that’s a pit”
    A geologist told him to appreciate the rock strata in the pit.
    An IRS worker asked if he was paying taxes on this pit.
    The county inspector asked if he had permit to dig the pit.
    A self-pitying person said, “you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit”
    An optimist said, ” Things could be worse”
    A pessimist said, ” Things will get worse”
    Jesus, seeing the man, reached down and took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit!!”

    Point? Its easy to talk and talk, and miss the exact point- which is DOING! Let’s JUST DO IT!!

    Efe, great piece!
    I’m happy that the army is building…gradually, we’ll become a formidable force to turn things around for generations to come; and indeed forever!

    1. Kome G

      Hi Tobi!!

      Very valuable points you make. I really like: “A group of friends and I….have started doing something with the little we/they have”. I think that’s really key. People tend to forget that the so called little contributions can amount to something HUGE! People need to wake up and start using their God-given talents to do something. Just start something! And stop with the excuses. Just do it!

      Good to hear from you, Tobi. Hope you’ll send a review sometime!! 🙂

  5. Efe this is lovely!An Inspiring early monday read!

  6. ‘Fela’…’Community Development’….’Volunteering’..This kind of populist fortitude is reassuring for the future of Nigeria….Quite a positive phenomenon.

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