We had all been prepared for the war-waiting to charge; and as soon as the bus stopped, the battle call heralded and we launched out on our enemy. The fight began, survival of the fittest-the fastest; it wasn’t going to stop until someone won. The time was limited; it wasn’t a relay, it was a sprint; and it had to end quickly.
Our hands were on the front door of the bus, three of us, ready to rip it open; and there were more behind us. We knew inside the door were only two seats, but no one wanted to lose the chance, so we wrestled the more. In less than 30 seconds, the battle was getting to its peak. You could evaluate your progress at this point. You could begin to measure your closeness to victory or to defeat. It was now two of us at the war front, with just one spot left for victory.
The more I charged, the more the resistance. It looked like I was losing grounds, my armies were falling and my opponent’s victory smile was becoming more visible. Was I going to give up so soon? Was I going to lose this battle? Would I accept defeat?
It was at that moment I remembered the Yoruba proverb-in all its wisdom and truth: ‘Mὸjὰ mὸsά lafi ή makίnkanjύ ίόjύ ogun’. And like a sudden surge of a country wind, wisdom swept into my heart. Not a wisdom of war, nor wisdom to fight a lost battle but wisdom to win the war.
I stepped back and retreated from the battle. The smile on my rival became more obvious. He was happy. He had won and I had lost. He slammed the door of the ‘danfo’ bus just as if I was going to pull him out of it. I didn’t feel too good at first too. Defeat doesn’t feel too good after all. I had been overpowered and I felt like a weakling in the eye of the other passengers as we continue to wrestle for space on the ‘danfo’ bus.
Just then I took my gaze off the battle, looking at the war in its entirety, and like a blind man whose eyes had just popped open, I realized the bus had more space for us than we had been fighting for. At that moment, our seeming ‘smartness’, but in reality, foolishness became clear. We had all began a frantic race without taking time to think about our chances.
There had been no battle call; it had only been in our mind. It was only an instinct possessed by every average Lagosian. We didn’t mind if we injured another on the battle field or if it was us that was injured. We were contented with the euphoria of winning the battle that we forgot the war had more battle to offer.
I stepped back and realized my space had been waiting for me in the bus. There was enough space for every one and we didn’t need to pull or push to be seated. But like it had been written in our minds, we had to fight for everything. We had to wrestle. We had been told in our mind, “ If you do it the easy and in the right way, you might as well lose out entirely”, “ If you care too much about your neighbor, you will be the worst for it.”
But it is so sad that the man who killed a woman and her child, the other day, when he took a ‘one-way’ road, is a Nigerian; and more sad that the woman he killed is another full-blooded Nigerian with a leader of tomorrow on her back. It is so painful that the man who failed to construct an approved road, leading to several loss of lives is another Nigeria. Even so, it is heartbreaking that the matron who in an attempt to make more money bought fake drugs for the hospital, resulting to several deaths of infants is another passionate Nigerian; and the children, legal citizens of Nigeria.
Yes, of course, there are times when the resources are quite limited; times when there are more people than buses in the bus stop. But have we forgotten who we are fighting against? Unfortunately, we have forgotten and many lives have paid dearly for it. We have taken it into our lives; into our homes; and gradually we are beginning to re-write our national and cultural heritage on that note. We are beginning to forget what the true identity of a Nigerian is to serve with love and might; not forgetting that we are one nation bound in freedom.
As we celebrate Independence, let’s not forget who the true enemies of Nigeria are. Not our fellow Nigerians. But these qualities and characters: ‘Lack of Love’, “Selfishness, and self-centeredness’; the prime qualities on which all other evils are built on. This is what we should fight, not killing fellow Nigerians. We all should stand together and fight these evils wherever and whenever they show up.
Nigeria’s call obey
In Love and Honesty to Grow
And living Just and True
To build a nation where Peace and Justice shall reign.
Happy Independence –Imisioluwa.