While sitting by the window of my apartment on the evening of October 1st, 2012, with a beautiful view of the Airport-link sky train station and the BTS line train station (Picture below) across my place, I noticed something amusing. This might be of interest to you to know that once its 8:00am or 6:00pm in Thailand, the national anthem comes up on speakers at public places like malls and train stations. While I was beholding the troops of people coming off from both stations and walking down the intersected aisle from different direction, towards each other. In a twinkle of an eye there was a sudden silence. Everybody stopped walking and stood still, and my mind was in a state of coma, rebooting under a second, I knew the national anthem just came on. As I stylishly glanced through the dimension of the pause, thinking about the law of motion, I immediately thought of times when I had been in a rush, running late for a meeting, and suddenly out of the blue the anthem came on. I never wanted to stop as it’s not mandatory, but the harsh and blunt looks I got from people sometimes automatically puts my motion to rest. Anyway, I don’t need to stop this time, as I was sitting still already; moreover, I was in my house so no pressure or intimidation from anyone. Basically, the amusing thing I noticed was that I could hear the anthem playing from both different ends of the stations, one very clearly and the other not so clear. After a minute or two, the people from the BTS station proceeded walking towards the people from the Airport link that stood still. I was thinking, why are these set of people walking pass (Opposite direction) the other set from airport-link while they were still standing stiffed? Then I realized that the anthem from the BTS had stopped, but the Airport-Link hadn’t.
The day has dawned to celebrate another independence day of a great nation, its 52nd independence indeed. Maybe I could have written another tantalizing poem, one my mind wasn’t ready for, but the occurrence, as I sat by my window inspired me and called out these thoughts in me. I must say that I’ve read loads of Facebook status from Nigerians who don’t see any reason for celebration; likewise I’ve read status of people who are so pumped up for celebration and showed some patriotism by changing their profile picture to the ever waving green white green flag. Celebration or no celebration, home or abroad, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, military or civilian, young or old, regardless of our situation, position or our location, I think the question we Nigerians need to ask ourselves is, where do we stand? Seems we’re all standing still while we dance in our mind to an anthem which lyrics are composed by some few, and the beat and sound are composed by us. Actually, anthems are not meant to be danced to, so when we stand, it’s sign of our respect, our dignity, our values and identity, but in Nigeria we dance to our own anthem(not the literal national anthem). We forget that as human, our souls only dance to the beat and sound playing within our hearts. Corruption we have danced to for too long and it has left our system shattered, mediocrity we’ve danced to for too long and it has clouded our mind, traditions that are unproductive we’ve danced to for too long and it has turned our land barren, values that kill creativity we’ve danced to for too long and it has crippled our potentials, but it seems we’re all tired of dancing with our mind as our spirits, souls and bodies wear us out. Yes we all know that both the lyrics and beat of our anthem is diluted, and we’re becoming more ashamed to sing it out loud, though we’re still dancing to it while the world leaves us behind in our abundance of natural and human resources. We want to get it right, right? I wish we would rather settle to have it right or never have it. This is the Nigeria spirit, if we can’t do it right, we better do it anyhow, but anyhow hasn’t and won’t take us anywhere so we better get it right, right now. If we’re ever gona move forward, we better stop playing and dancing to the old anthem. We better redefine ourselves starting from our homes. We better come together in unity and in love to compose a new anthem…One that we all wana stand to with pride and not dance to in shame. Change begins when people start hearing the voice of change within them. I know some Nigerians are awaken to the voice of change within them and they are not afraid to let it out of their mouth with wisdom, they are not afraid to do it the right way even when the system is against it, yes they are not afraid! I was moved recenlty when I listened to our finance minsiter, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Minister of Agriculture, Akin Adesina discussing at Clinton Global Initiative held in New York City, quite impressed by their wisdom and their strategy for change. While some are awaken to the voice within, they are only humming it, but the best thing humming does is to create an echo. We can’t afford to stand still to our own anthem, shake our head, and just hum without singing from our heart. We’ve got to let it out. When we let it out, our voice, anthem and action become forces of change. Even those in the desert won’t be left behind. Have you wondered about the effect of rain? Rain could either have a positive or negative effect; it can pour and water the seed of a hard working farmer or pour causing flood and destroying the home of a poor farmer. We all are like a rain. We all have something to pour out into our world. How we want to, the measure we want to, the area we want to, determines the effect we would have, either positive or negative one!
We may be hearing the same thing, but we hear it differently, because it’s coming from different direction. Just as what we are hearing matters, also, the direction(where) it’s coming from also matters. If we are hearing from the wrong direction, this might cause a major delay to our progress.
Happy Independence Day fellow compatriots
Daniel Olatunde Balogun (D.O.B)