Independence from what?

I only half-remembered the happy childhood memories of flag-waving and march pasts at the stadium to mark Nigeria’s Independence Day on October 1 every year. In my case, having lived in Aba, Chief S.U. Nwanganga or Chief Ikonne was the one to take the symbolic salute as we marched past in turns. And it always rained. Curiously!

So, it was always a peculiarly wet day, then a hard day as well, to have to walk home drenched in rain, muddling through rivers of unchanelled waters. Next day, we are back to broken schools, sure the taps at home will be dry.

I lived in places some 40 years back that still looked the same as they were while growing up, except now, it conjures a ghostly feeling of a tarnished memory. Worse-going each day. ‘Independence’ from what exactly? What was the white man holding away from us?  The Nigerian flag?  The borders? What exactly?

The white man was happy to depart, but certainly aware that he would still be in charge. We lacked mental discipline for self-governance. That unfortunately was to be the inevitable seat of power; the lever that controls the state of independence.

The cocoa fields weren’t taken away by the white man, but the chocolate factories are with him.  Independent? He has the technology for our oil, thus fixes the price we should sell at. Independence?

For when anyone or a nation has no capacity for independent thinking and judgement, then every ceremony held as a token sign of freedom is a mere ruse. You should be the one wishing yourself happy independence. The day we individually become mentally independent, Nigeria would.

Steve Orji,

London, United Kingdom

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