Nigeria’s National Colors; Our Flag! Our Symbol!
By Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
Americans know orchestration and choreography! Americans know image marketing! Americans know nationalism, patriotism and culture promotion, the way Hollywood know propaganda through entertainment.
A new president is elected for France, and the Americans want to know if Mr. Sarkozy supports American worldview, and whether he like President Bush’s policies in Iraq etc
Prime Minster Blair of the UK, also known there as Mr. Bush’s lackey, made announcements that he is stepping down soon, some Americans are fact-checking to determine his replacement is pro-American worldview; The Chancellor of the British Exchequer Mr. Gordon Brown, is probably the next British Prime Minister, and an American commentator says, oh, Mr. Brown vacations in Cape Cod, he has good tastes!
America does very good business of instilling nationalism and patriotism into its citizens before such citizens can make complete sentences as children. I have friends whose babies and toddlers are attending kindergarten preschools and they all, without exception, already can sing the American national anthem and recite the different renditions or versions!
On the other hand, most Nigerian adults cannot sing Nigeria’s national anthem nor recite our national pledge. Most Nigerians have no fondness of our national colors or symbols.
Conversely, citizens of other nations seem to always have their flags when they want to celebrate and demonstrate their happy in happiness. Citizens of other nations are also apt to hoist the flag of their county at times of crises.
In Nigerian events, conferences and even political campaigns, there is almost always a certainty, that an item that is sure to be conspicuously absent, would be the flag of Nigeria
When Nigerians celebrate, the omit or forget our flag! When Nigerians protests, the omit or forget our flag! Perhaps the time have come for us Nigerians to take interest in our flag? The time has come to hoist our flag proudly to celebrate when there is cause to celebrate. Perhaps the time has come as well, to hoist and wave the Nigerian flag when we complain and protest?
Sometimes I wonder whether Nigerians notice the presences of flags of other nations? Did Nigerians notice the preponderances of the Mexican flags during public marches in America for immigration reforms in 2006 and again, this year? I always wonder whether Nigerians notice the marking of momentous events in American history with the presences of inordinate numbers of American flags? America’s landing on the moon was symbolized by the planting of an American flag! American landing in Okinawa Japan during the bitter war there, was also symbolized with the planting of the American flag by its military.
Anyone familiar with American food and disaster foreign aid, would tell you, that every bag and container has the American flag emblazoned onto it. The Americans are very particular about these things. The Americans teach this attitude from cradle to grave.
My friend’s daughter is ten years old, she was born in here in New York, in the United States to immigrant parents, she is bright, as bright as a bright ten year old can be.
She and I, are friends, she decided about two years ago, that I am her best friend in the whole world! I always commend, and compliment her, especially, with her school work and as a result, she is always happy to discuss her school work and her other intricate, or somewhat burdensomely arduous life, as she sees it, from the prism of a ten year old!
She reads The New York Times with me, she watches world news with me on television and sometimes, she would ask series of questions regarding all the troubles in the world, as are often reflected in the news. And often, she would wish, there were no such troubles, so much trouble in the world. She would add that she wished everyone lived in America, because it is safe and crises free. She would make comments suggesting that America is immutably and irrefutably a good country. I have not quite succeeded in convincing her otherwise or at least, that America is not perfect! She is positively indoctrinated!
Arguing with a ten year old is tough! Especially, as her mind has been made up about the goodness and superiority of her own country America. This, even though she has only been to one country outside of hers, in a world with more than 200 nations! She just “knows” the greatness of America! She has gut instinct reaction every time we debate it!
Could I say this about a Nigerian child of the same age? Do we in Nigeria, positively indoctrinate our young children about the need to be patriotic, nationalistic and to have Nigeria’s best interests always? Why is it that the richest Nigerians, who have benefited the most from every economic, political, military opportunities in Nigeria, are not patriotic? Why is it that most of our leaders, and followers are not patriotic and nationalistic? So, it does appear as if neither rich, poor, leaders and the led in Nigeria, are patriotic or nationalistic or have Nigeria’s best interests at heart? And actions and pronouncements are clearly not motivated by such.
Nigeria must begin to teach Civic Lessons to her citizens at a very early age, preferably from kindergarten. Teach respect and honor for Nigerian flag and Nigerian constitution.
An American child in the equivalent school level of Nigeria’s Primary School Class V, already studied and knows about the American constitution, the separation of powers, the rule of law and due process! And how all these make America better than the rest of the world.
The average American is patriotic and nationalistic unlike his Nigerian counterpart. Poor Americans, homeless American, the perennially discriminated African Americans, they are all nationalistic and patriotic, so, across education, social class, race and racial lines, Americans feel strongly about America. These feelings were taught to them at very impressionable age! The average Nigeria will be amazed at the worldview of a 12 year old American, views of Americans in relation the world. Nigerians seem to have all the reasons, all the excuses, logical and illogical explanations, why we must not say we love Nigeria! I have found that starving and displaced Americans in disaster zones, are quick to hoist the American flag! The American flag is raised, hoisted and at times, set alight symbolically.
Ben Oghre, Nigerian, recently stated what I think, perfectly describe a pervasive attitude a great number of Nigerians. Mr. Oghre wrote that “…you cannot mobilize people to chart a course for success without the people first having the collective will to do so. Nigerians are not really interested in their country to the extent of sacrificing for her. The general theme in the country is “share of the national cake”, it is the same mentality that non-nationals and foreign governments have about the oil rich country that Nigerians themselves posses. He is right! Too many Nigerians treat Nigeria, the way a bad refugee would! As if just passing through with no long term interests and no stake in the outcome!
Each part of Nigeria seem to treat the rest as strangers! As if they will soon have a different republic of Biafra, Hausa-Fulani/Arewa republic, the Oduduwa republic and the Ijaw/Izon republic etc and so, the idea of Nigeria to some, is secondary. And so, talking about a symbol of Nigeria, flag, constitution or patriotism and nationalism does not register! Too many Nigerians put their ethnicity, religion and region, ahead of our Nigerian-ness! Nigeria is sacrosanct! We might as well get to the business advancing Nigeria. Your fake republics which are your similar to pies in the sky, is not gonna happen!
So as the inauguration comes our way on May 29, 2007, wave your Nigerian flag in celebrations or wave your Nigerian flag in protest of the inauguration. Whatever your feelings or position? Wave the Nigerian flag nevertheless!
I have written in the past that Nigerians ought to take more interest in issues that unite us and that we ought to see the benefits in our diversities and unity as opposed to the perils of disintegration. I am always amazed at how excited some Nigerians get about their ethnic group, region or religion, especially, when and if they think of criticism of such, by “other” Nigerians from outside of the ethnic group, region, religion etc… watch the reactions, the vehemence and ferociousness! But, if attack Nigeria, whether you are a Nigeria attacking Nigeria, or someone from mars, you can be rest assured, you will have peace. You will receive no censure or rebuke and reproach!
As Nigerians must accept our Nigerian-ness; Accepting our Nigerian-ness, accepting our nationhood, will enhance our acceptance of our national colors and symbol, our flag!
Nigeria should undertake and ensure the installation of Nigerian flags in the classrooms of every primary school, the class rooms of every secondary school, classroom of every secular and non-secular institutions of learning, from the kindergarten to the university and professional levels schools. Nigerians, from the cradle, need to know and identify with our national colors! Nigerian adults needs to re-familiarize and become reacquainted with the symbol of our nationality. Everything must be done to re-introduce Nigerians to Nigeria!
We Nigerians appear to spend one hundred percent of our lives worrying about bread, yes, bread is important! But ideas are actually more important than bread! It is the case that persons with ideas would usually find bread, such persons will fathom baking their own bread and if not, source bread from an independent baker.
I urge all Nigerians to embrace the Nigerian flag, to hoist the Nigerian flag, to identify with the Nigerian flag! We should hold the Nigerian flag in reverence. The Nigerian flag is sacred. And if I have offended any Nigerian with this sermon about the Nigerian flag, Nigerians should feel free to wrap me in Nigerian flag! And spank me with the Nigerian constitution!
Nigerians, first and foremost, must reconcile ourselves to our nationality and nationhood! Once comfort has been found in our nationality and nationhood, we can then fathom ideas on how to protect, nurture and preserve our nationality and nationhood. It is my strong belief that Nigerians need to become comfortable with our nationality and nationhood, and a good place to start, is the recognition of our national colors, our collective symbol, the Nigeria flag. Please, I urge you, implore you and beseech you to wave, hoist, raise and embrace your flag, our flag, the flag of Nigeria!