Eventually, we wisp away into nothingness; into sheer in-existence; into sweet detachedness. We recoil like overstretched springs, like snails back into the shade. We are wont to believe ourselves unimportant, of no moment and without any effect on the grander scheme. Or we stop to care whether we matter or not. In any case, we opt to be the passer-by, the unconcerned neighbor , the unaffected comrade. We bare our hearts against the hardship that has so much become our lot, we bare ourselves against the cold, the hunger, the hatred,….and soon, we end up knowing too little, being too good at evasion, experts as reclusion; baring ourselves against life itself. Baring ourselves against the Nigerian delirium.
“In truth, it is always possible, often urgent, to displace oneself, with the risk of becoming that passerby, that wanderer, that flaneur, that vagabond, stray dog that our fragmented contemporary society both sets in motion and paralyzes.”
When Paul Ricoeur made the above statement, it was certainly not in reference to any exact contemporary culture or society; certainly not in reference to Nigeria. It is rather handsome, how he achieved a perfect representation of the hypnotic rivulet the Nigerian situation would create in the mind of the disillusioned Nigerian sleeping in waterloo. Often, it becomes second nature not to care, not to give a hoot, not to bother. Ordinarily, the Nigerian may bother; they may cuss and fuss, sweating profusely in the sun and spewing profanities against the government. But beyond the immediate pickaninny, beyond uncle-Friday and mama-Chichi, and beyond the purportedly enlightened camaraderie, there is the lost one; lost not to pessimism, but to the misfortune of reality. The one who doesn’t cuss, does fuss and never mutters. The ones who have given up hope. The Ex-Patriot. People like me.
Nigeria as I would always say, is like a man with a hundred sores; he cannot tell where it hurts the most. Bruised, battered and tormented by the horde of socio-political, cultural, economic and idyllic malaise, Nigeria is like a man with more arrows than can be counted plucked into his body. The question is not how he will survive, it is as to ‘if’ he will survive. And we, perambulating the soils of Nigeria, sadly crest with the ‘appellation’ of citizens, feel every wound she feels, bleed every drop she loses, and wail every time she is raped. Well, at least some of us. I saw a movie the other day, where a man was tortured till he could no longer wail or scream, and I would employ this fictitious happen-stance as an analogy. We too, in Nigeria can be tormented till we can no longer shout, some of us have. Only this time, our silence is not due to lack of strength or mental subjugation. Our silence is due to a solemn resignation; an abandonment of any hopes of repose and a conceding of defeat to the forces of negativity, that so often tally with the Nigerian.
An ex-patriot, is someone who had prior to attaining a new circumstance of being or state of mind, had been a patriot, a defender of the honor, pride and sustenance of a country. Someone who at the moment, has abandoned these noble dictates and adopted a doctrine of adverseness. An ex-patriot is someone who has withdrawn his affections for his country, or has retracted his allegiance to the country. When one becomes an ex-patroit, it is usually as an unintended recourse and in deflective spontaneity . In the Nigerian case though, it is often deliberate, although largely unconscious.
There are ex-patriots in Nigeria, lots of them. Many of them; most not knowing their status and unaware of the symptoms of their distemper. Perhaps, the concept would be foreign to the average Nigerian, the descriptive is not. Every so often, a Nigerian youth asks “who Nigeria help self’, in retort to a demand of patriotism or a reproach for an unpatriotic act. Otherwise, they act in a directly injurious manner with regards state affairs and state concerns; the unspoken undertone of discontentedness and lack of concern for the National plight evidencing the abandonment typical of an expatriate. The average Nigerian youth is an expatriate, or was never a patriot or is verging towards the solace of ex-patriotism. The average youth is a broken-hearted lad/lass. Broken and disappointed, shattered at the heart by their motherland.. Why should they care anymore. Why should they act patriotically. No ‘God save the President’ for Nigeria. No ‘God bless the United States of Nigeria’ from the lips of the exasperated youth. Only the noxious clichés; ‘ Who Nigeria help’ or ‘Fuck Nigeria’ or ‘ I dey comot from this nonsense country’ or ‘Nigeria don spoil’. What better would you expect from the hungry and unsatisfied, from the ‘holed-up-under-bridges, from the discontented, from the disillusion, from the discombobulated, from the whipped and relegated. Few self conscious expatriates exist in Nigeria; those fully aware of their discontentment and their pessimistic disengagement from the course of nationalism. Not because they are devious monsters, but because they no longer believe in the course of the Nation and in the sanity of her pursuits.
The cankerworm of ex-patriotism is quick eating into the fibers of the Nigerian soul. The Nigerian hoi polloi has become invested in heavy moieties with this malaise. The Youth most especially, are giving upon the nation. And their choice is not under informed or wrongly reached; they fetter their discretion as regards patriotism fully aware and deeply disillusioned. So they act adverse to the States course and take up to activities contrary to the growth and development of the country. They cannot be blamed.
With all her sores, Nigeria is parched once more. This time by the malaise of Ex-patriotism and its consequences. The youth they so often say, are the future. Why, Nigeria has daringly created a semblance of “Victor Frankenstein’s monster” while waving discursively through her plethora of plights. Lets hope this monster, does not destroy its creator as well. Today, Nigeria is face-palmed in a queer exhibition, gawking stonily as her future gives up on itself.
By VINCENT CHIMOBI OKONKWO
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