Kunle Afolayan's movie, 'October One' probably means more to Nigerian millennials than Independence Day.
It’s October 1, 2017, I had just lost my father. I woke up feeling deflated while I tried to keep everything in order. After we got into the groove of the day, only my Mum remembered what day it was.
If 2017 was a different year, let’s throw it back to 2016 when I only remembered what the day was because I was an NYSC member.
Like a few friends of mine, we never watched the television or ranted about how bad Nigeria is on social media, neither did we talk about the broken dream of the founding fathers. We instead went to Ibueno Beach in Akwa Ibom State and balled out.
Nigerian millennials don’t just care about Nigeria as much is the problem. It’s why a 25-year old Nigerian somewhere, seldom votes, nor is he upbeat to get his/her Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) for the upcoming elections.
The founding fathers laid the foundation for a terrible Nigeria
Nigeria is a fundamentally flawed country with selfish people at the helm of Power, navigating things problematically.
The 1966 Coups which Nigeria still pays hefty fees for in 2018. It’s a terrible turn of events, but one we cannot avoid.
The first republic led by Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and President Nnamdi Azikiwe was littered with continued corruption and embezzlement in the upper echelons of Nigerian power.
Obafemi Awolowo was also found guilty of the financial misappropriation of the Western Region Marketing Board. There was also the issue of personality clashes between Chiefs Obafemi Awolowo and Ladoke Akintola.
The timing was also off as military coups in Dahomey, Algeria, Egypt, and other countries must have filled conspirators with confidence.
Nigeria has never really been good, we were just rich at one point in the 70s when we joined OPEC. Even that national wealth was ruined by terrible embezzlement by entitled thieves.
This culture that started around FESTAC 1977 which created an era of entitlement to national wealth, has permeated through our entire culture.
This sad reality has made Nigeria a joke of an existence and that's the major reason why most people are not passionate about Nigeria — definitely not millennials.
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No, it is not because they didn’t live in the 60s
Not living at a time when a dream was forged doesn’t mean you can’t believe in it. A lot of African-Americans never experienced the brute evil of slave trade and slavery, but they still fly the flag.
It is why the average African-American is loathed to seeing a non-black person call a black man, ‘nigga’, there is a fight worth die for and a legacy worth protecting. Nigeria has no equivalent.
How do you expect me to believe in and celebrate something that will only serve me a plate of heartbreak just moments after I celebrate it?
The lack of appreciation has also become ingrained and subconscious from years of suffering and failure since birth. It gets to a level where you just can’t care anymore.
As a child, even if you felt some emotion for your country during Children’s Day, the very last vestiges of that were stripped away when you wrote your Senior School Certificate Examinations in Nigeria.
It’s not because we are selfish
As noted earlier, you can only sacrifice yourself to a system that is destined to favour you, long and short term.
The Nigerian fabric is more fraudulent than Yahoo Boys and more problematic than our changing tides of corruption. Selfishness means abandoning the right way to hug the wrong one.
Selfishness also means a lack of sacrifice when nothing is forthcoming for you. If you sacrifice yourself to Nigeria enough, you will be broke and die jittery.
Lots of public servants like the man who designed our flag, Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi live in, and Rashidi Yekini died in terrible circumstances, despite their sparkling record and legacy for Nigeria.
Having a legacy in Nigeria is not enough. Your children will not eat and inherit the legacy. The only relevant people from generations are mostly sons and daughters of corrupt individuals and embezzlers.
Despite that knowledge, when the money has been cleaned by escrow accounts, tax havens, and shell companies, their children start companies with these funds or invest in multinationals.
It is not just about leaving a legacy of wealth. It is about not repeating the mistakes our parents made. In fact, dying for Nigeria is not an option, because the ball he might be political.
Do you expect me to repeat the mistakes my parents made? I refuse to. Common sense precludes me from such nonsensical sentiment. I refuse to slave like my father.
Millennials are not selfish, or unpatriotic. We are just reasonable to not sow into a system that drains you of everything and leaves you with nothing.
Our subconscious has been trained to not celebrate anything not worth celebrating and Nigeria at 58 is definitely not worth it. It’s worse when we consider the affairs in Ghana and South Africa.
We would rather go fulfill that Nigeria dream and sow that seed in western colonies where our gifts are better appreciated in systems that aim to pay us our worth.
We aim to commit to systems that have been proven to actually work, not one that only aims to robs you of every altruism you have in you.
Some parents in Osun and Ekiti States have not been paid salaries in months. Osun State civil servants have not been paid in over 20 months.
Some retired parents have also not been paid their gratuity and retirement benefits after five years of submitting that letter. Neither are they being paid a dime of pension after 35 years of worthy service.
How do you want me to love that system? I cannot. I will not. The world has enough problems, I need liberation, not enslavement.
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The role of our parents
Every Fourth of July in America, it is an ingrained culture that American homes celebrate and wine and toast to the founding fathers and a bright future.
That is a symbol of hope, where greatness seems achievable and life seems positive, despite having Donald Trump as President.
Even in America, a July 2, 2015 article by Larissa Faw for Media Post said, "Independence Day is a traditionally a time for barbeques and fireworks, but for millennials, July 4th also includes booze." Some will attribute it to the non-conformist millennial tendency that doesn't respect history, but it's not that simple.
We respect things that seem palpably commendable.
It operates on the understanding that America is more than Trump and it is true.
Our parents never created a culture like that and who can blame them? Nigeria has a systemic problem that has festered over the generations.
Our parents could not celebrate Nigeria because there was nothing worth celebrating. As such, we bought into that truth and we became more stoic as we saw Nigeria worsen.
Our parents only ignored Independence Day abi? We even hiss at independence day, because it that nonsensical a remembrance of the terrible state of affairs in Nigeria.
Nigeria is a bad joke. Independence day certainly only serves as a painful reminder of how our cousins who grew up in America or England have better lives.
It also reminds us of how much we cannot wait to get that visa, move away and never come back. That is the Nigerian dream we know.
A dream is meant to give you positive visions. Nigeria gives terrible nightmares. Thus, we have to create our own dream. Nigeria makes it hard to dream.
As millennials, we grew up more enlightened and we are the first widely outspoken generation. We don’t slave — actually and psychologically where it is not worth it.
We have greater issues to deal with
Not too young to run? Despite the supposed executive Assent to the Law, it seems a pipe dream that a young person will rule a state, let alone a nation.
We have an ingrained problem. What do you want me to do when the employment rates are falling every year? What do you want me to do when even if you find a job, it barely pays bills?
What do you want us to do when we can’t breathe and enjoy the morning? What do you want me to do when government Universities are a joke, making people lose confidence in themselves?
What do you want me to do when I have to deal with bullying and social media trolls? What do you want me to do when drinking beer does not solve my problems?
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What do you want me to do when I have siblings I want the good life for, but cannot afford it? What do you want me to do when I have mental health issues to deal with?
What do you want me to do when I see my friends fade into the darkness under the influence of drugs to numb the pain? What do you want me to do when my friend committed suicide because he was gay?
What do you want me to do when I see my Northern brothers get constantly murdered by the politics called sectarian terrorism?
What do I do when my country cannot avail me any solution to these problems and only makes it worse? What do I do when living in Lagos means risking my mental health daily?
What do I do when Akure cannot offer me the life that I need? What do I do when even the music annoys me?
What do I do when my fellow youths are so frustrated, they can’t have a simple conversation without lacking context? What do I do when SARS only stopped harassing me for owning a Laptop in August 2018?
What do I do when the fire of inspiration has to be lit by myself every day — even days that I feel like sleeping?
Celebrate Independence Day? I’d rather not.
I don’t celebrate Nigeria because there’s nothing to celebrate. I’d rather be at work, doing a job that God gave me or watch a movie.
There’s nothing to discuss.