That the Youth May Live, By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu
There is a saying that “the young shall grow.” Hidden in that concept is that they will not only grow but they will grow into a better world and take it over. It’s a legacy a previous generation owe the coming one. It’s a reason why parents pray their children outlive them.
I think it’s also a reason why I may be the sole reason my mother may have had a high blood pressure when I was younger. The poor woman believed I was always conniving with myself to try kill myself. I always felt it an odd accusation. Then the Abacha regime made my mother a sage. If a man can be picked up from a newsroom and charged with conniving to plot a coup then I reasoned a boy can connive with himself to kill himself.
My mother got a ironclad proof a few years ago when she heard I’m now into skydiving. The poor woman couldn’t understand what kind of child would want to jump out of plane. In my part of the country, it’s not uncommon for a mother to blame such “wayward” behavior on what Mormons call “sister-wives”. But, it’s also a function of our state of development.
Trust mothers, they know how to blackmail you into a stationery position. The woman made me promise her I won’t try to kill myself again. I refined the deal and promised her I won’t let her know I was trying to kill myself.
Now, I think some people are trying to kill me. It’s so bad I run a lot to Nigeria these days because these folks are across the Atlantic. You know when you’re in Nigeria, your mother don’t have to worry about you jumping from the plane. She’s deathly scared enough of the planes coming down. What they call adventurism in other places is stuff you go to night virgin for in Nigeria.
But it’s not adventurism that’s trying to kill me. It’s another word. They call it technology. Life is moving at such a fast pace these days you barely have time to keep up. If you can think of something it’s likely its there in the market. There are appliances that talk to you! Forty years ago, that was called witchcraft.
I finally have proof of tech-assassination a few years ago when my busy body had caused me to wander into a function where they were talking about space tourism. This being Los Angeles and everyone else in the room being white, I was singing the song “come and see American wonder” in my heart when someone asked if I would be interested in registering for a tour of space.
I screamed, “God forbid” inside me and faked my best fake Hollywood smile as I filled out the information of the spouse. She loves singing R. Kelly “I believe I can fly”. This may be a chance for her to really fly. Since then I’ve often wonder what space looked like. I know it would be cool to see it. And, I know once I can talk a production company into letting me on a team to do some filming in the south pole, my next thought would be, “seen the end of the world, why not see the world from outside the world?”
Strange thing is, you can’t even see Nigeria well enough from Nigeria. It’s tough to get on those roads with potholes that can help train future Olympic swimmers. It’s scary to get in the air sometimes when the lords and ladies of aviation only care about where to park their private jets and not the health of the big birds in the air. It’s tough to have hope when the “ogas” have hope buried under their oriental rugs.
I look at the band of politicians today and shake my head. In most cultures where the system is not working, the opposition rolls their sleeves and unfurls a road map to progress. But in Nigeria I see a committee of enemies of the president rolled into a political party. They do not have a manifesto or plan for the country or they have not really told us so. The luck these folks have is that the worst publicists a leader can find surround the president. He claims he’s done a lot, I think he has some stuff but he has men who have no clue how to communicate achievement with the masses so they end up defending failures.
And, the youth of today are the ones that suffer from the ills that ail the minds of the youth of yesterday that are the leaders of today. When I was younger, Nigeria seemed to be on the verge of something great. Kids would talk over several yards with the aid of a rope strung on the ends of milk cans. The older kids will unveil metal contraptions that move like a sputtering mini-car. Inventors were coming out of the woodworks. But, the government took one look at them and carted the funds that would have aided development into foreign banks. You got to pity the kids today who sometimes think being born in Nigeria is akin to a curse
You just hope that someday someone will open the door to the future to Nigeria, the door that seemed like it had creaked open when Nigerian thought they elected a new president in 1993 before the military decided to play god. And, you hope that day comes pretty soon so the Nigerian youth can live his dream like his western counterparts, after all being born a Nigerian used to be a blessing.
And maybe that day, mothers like mine will see technology and adventurism for what it is – progress.
Mr. Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhuiam, film maker, writer, and soccer buff, lives in Los Angeles and can be reached via his twitter handle: I am_ose