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.