My last week’s article entitled ‘’Africa, the Dark Continent’’ prompted a lot of discussions and conversations amongst my readers in Nigeria and even those outside the shores of this country. The article focused on when explorers from other continents found out the richness of the Dark Continent and its obliging people which led to the Scramble for Africa. One after the other, Western powers decided to invade, occupy, divide and colonize the continent: some brought their diplomats while others brought their weapons. Either way, resistance wasn’t tolerated.
The present generation is unaware of our old mode of government because we were told that they were barbaric, fetish, primitive and uncivilized. The unwritten history of our religion, government and people is in the art which were taken away under the guise of denouncing our gods. The little that we know has been through visits to some museums in Italy, Germany, Holland and UK.
Many of my readers implied that some Nigerians do not know about their nation and what it’s been through so I was made to hold brief for the Nation but ended up asking myself some questions hence the title of today’s article. The questions and answers made for a very interesting, historical and educative interaction which I must share in today’s essay for the sake of our children, grandchildren and the generation that is to come. I have read books written by British historians and British journalist of the past and I’ve also read those written by Nigerian historians. Somehow, I ended up in a big confusion especially when I compare all these histories with those written from stories told by our fore fathers. My take therefore comes from a conviction that we are taking so much from the country over the Century without replenishment and we must start the process of writing the unbiased, the un-political, the unreligious and the unadulterated history of Nigeria. In addition, we must start the building of archives all over where to store the different stages of our developments; both the past and present, because it is very important to know where you have come from to be able to determine and chart the course for where you want to go to.
One thing that becomes increasingly clear to me over time is that the planet earth is very angry with us for the way we have neglected our past. We must therefore go back a little maybe a few hundred years to find answers for the above, some of the answers may not be that good for today’s history but we must start to build from there. We have to take stock of what we have done to Nigeria in 61 years and that will take me back to a question I have once asked in this very column. The question goes thus: What did our Founding Fathers tell the British they were going to do with independent Nigeria during our journey to Independence? The answer to this question would help us draw a comparison between what they intended and what we are today. I was there and I know that most Nigerians could not wait to see the back of heads of those British Colonial governments. Those Nigerians old enough like me know that mistakes were made but we have learned nothing from the mistakes since we keep repeating the same mistakes. We keep sweeping our problems under the carpet instead of confronting and finding answers to the problems.
We have seen wonderful Nigerians in Science, in Sports, in Politics and in Industries making the heights in global stages but only when they go away from Nigeria. We must find answers to all these before we restructure so that we do not build a new Nigeria on a quick sand. Some Americans and Europeans of Nigerian origin have recently been part of the space development that the whole world is moving to because of the immense opportunities that are abound in these new technologies such as renewable and clean energy. And some emerging nations that started after Nigeria are in competition with the rest of the world because of the use of artificial intelligence and innovations abound in such development.
Recently, I saw the impressive presentation made by Nigeria on Global Climate Change in Glasgow Scotland during the COP26 negotiations but now, how can we be negotiating adaptation and mitigation towards carbon neutrality when millions of our generators are pumping tons of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere, our forests being depleted as we speak, our water bodies receding and disappearing, our grazing fields gone as our Sahara remains the only untamed desert in the world?
I wrote last week that we cannot continue to play catch up with other countries that keep leaving us behind. However, without a solid knowledge and understanding of our beginning and foundation that’s all we will ever manage as unfortunately, the rest of the world will not wait for us to catch up with them. Most of the raw material and human resources that were used to grow and develop the wealthy countries that we look up to were gotten from this continent. The atomic and nuclear bombs that are being used to intimidate us were tested in our Sahara and the desert today remains the only active desert in the world.
History isn’t preserved and taught to cast aspersions of play the blame game. Instead, it gives us a clear picture of how various aspects of society worked in the past so we can understand how it came to work the way it is now. Only through the study of history can people really see and grasp the reasons behind the changes (or lack of) and understand what elements of an institution or a society continue regardless of continual change. History provides us data that can be analysed and used in building a nation’s identity and righting its wrongs.
After so many centuries, the point is not to go back to our old ways, but we must begin to re-educate ourselves with a combination of the old and new ways alike; not as we were taught by the so called explorers. We will need to go further than the history we were told as the people of Nigeria though scattered across kingdoms and called differently didn’t start to exist only on the arrival of the foreigners. So once again, I ask: who will write the unbiased, un-political, unreligious and unadulterated history of Nigeria?