Wednesday, November 4, 2020 9:12 am
By Gerald Eze
Part of our duties as young people in our daily struggles now that we have, for the meantime, stopped protesting in the streets is to raise the next generation right. Offer quality and free or paid music training, computer training, mathematics training, physics lessons, etc. Indeed, some people are already offering financial assistance to help with hospital bills for wounded mobs, offering free services to assist those whose properties were destroyed, etc. All these show that we have not forgotten the lessons of the Peaceful Endsars protest. We have to particularly pay attention to raising the children around us and helping each other to keep striving for quality life and not to settle for crumbs. If we fail to nurture these children, we are grooming wild fire that will come after us. I believe that engaging them in creative activities is a way to go. This is another dimension to interpreting the symbolism of this struggle.
Praying for Nigeria in distress is working committedly and not just a religious ritual. I still say the prayer for Nigeria in distress (amongst other prayers), because there is a tradition attached to it and there is a repository passion aligned with it. The prayer for Nigeria in distress which was composed by the Catholic Bishops and is dated back to June 1993, reminds me how long Nigeria had been in real trying times. We have all contributed in one way or the other to the spoils and ruins in Nigeria and the cleanup must begin from our different private corners. To pray is to work, to pray is to create, to pray is to rise. And so, we ought to say prayers that take our spirits above materialism and other mundane and banal desires of this world.
Do not take prayers for granted and we should teach children to pray in these trying times. Praying and spirituality is important, not just religion. Someone can pray and be evil in mind at the same time. Praying is not the all, but the mindset. If you do not mind, focus on spirituality while praying for Nigeria and not just your religion. In the protest grounds Muslims and Christians prayed together, agitated together and coexisted together. We have to create our new realities from the lessons learnt in this important period of our history. In this emergency, we should emerge into a new and vibrant people. Pray and work, for “to work is to pray”.
To continue, it is indeed dangerous for children to come out in the streets protesting as I saw during the peaceful protests. We may think of preserving them and keeping them away from the gory sights of some men of Nigerian security agencies shooting at unarmed protesters. The children however should be part of the struggle for a brighter future and not just stay aloof. One way they can be gainfully part of this quest for a better tomorrow is by joining in prayers, and offering them trainings and opportunities within our reach which will eventually ensure quality life.
Furthermore, “he who sings well prays twice,” so let’s talk music. What music do our children listen to? This is a time to think deeply about a lot of things. All along children are left to sing and dance the same hip-hop we sing and this is not very good for their psyche. I was waiting for a friend some days ago to complete an editing work he is doing for me and I heard a child of about 10 singing: “hold am tight; hold am jeje” (Patoranking’s hit song, Abule). There are many folk songs that can be adapted and made catchy or modern for these young ones. These songs will better humanize them. This is what Disney has continued to do for the American kid and indeed children all over the world; revisiting the myths and folklores of the Americans and that of the people all over the world and recreating them into lasting symbolisms through entertainment for the advancement of humanity. Create for children to liberate their minds. It must not be showbiz every time! Let these creative productions be available in larger numbers and good quality first, then the young children can decide to insist on dancing “one corner” or “hold am tight”.
James Joyce in his book, A Portrait of The Artist as A Young Man wrote: “welcome O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time, the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race”. Do not think you are too powerful on your own as a young person. Fill yourself with the spiritual vigour of this time. Encounter it over and over in the reality of experience. Listen to and learn from works of musicians who saw tomorrow like Fela; listen to Sonny Okosun’s which way Nigeria, Ziga Ha Ozi; listen to Bob Marley; listen to Lucky Dubey; listen to Bob Dylan, etc. Listen to men who have drawn out of the universe, vibrations that can inspire creativity. Listen to your heart beat but first tune yourself up. Tune up to the rhythms and vibrations of the cosmos. Stay woke, rest, meditate, eat healthy, exercise, live, be, become, read if you can (you should anyway). Utilize the anxiety inherent in this period constructively by forging “in the smithy of your soul, the uncreated conscience of your race”. Become this conscience, sing it, preach it; above all liberate your mind. God gave you your life and he owns it, no bullet can take you down. Instead, the bullets will spread your energies into the universe and the struggle for a better tomorrow will continue.
Imagine when as a youth, you have assumed powerful essence; a smile to a child alone will pass on the energy needed to believe in a better tomorrow. They need us, inspire them to grow, inspire them not to be violent in anyway. Let us look at them and have hope, let us find joy in them, let us find peace sharing in their belongingness with us through every creative and constructive means. Above all, let us not loot their future like many of our elders did to us!
Creating Life Together
Let us join hands together
Like the early Christians
Sending out positive vibrations
Showing the world that we are humans capable of creating
Showing them that we are resilient
Showing them that we are constructive and not destructive in our resolve
Showing them that we have a humanity
Let us pray
Like the early Christians
Letting our sweats wash the streets clean of evil
Letting our bodies light up the universe
Letting our minds transcend to meet with the Supreme Being,
Letting the world know that praying is not old fashioned
But religious rivalry is
Like our ancestors
Let us create enduring symbols
Living an active life of communality
Living live according to the directions of the spirit of our struggle
Usukaloyi remains courageous
And so we must Sorosoke
In strategy and in peace
Indeed, ebelebe gburu
But we will thrive!
• Gerald Eze teaches at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.