Arise, O Compatriots?

By its nature, the national anthem of a nation is a reflection of its history and traditions. Its eulogy is such that it evokes in the hearts of its citizenry a feeling of self-worth, pride and assurance.
The National Anthem of Nigeria “Arise, O Compatriots” was composed in 1978 to evoke the above mentioned feelings of patriotism in the hearts of Nigerians. Today however, the reverse is the case, its message is dead to us – at least in my own mind sha- and its wordings along with the ideals they postulate no longer ring true. 
In the succeeding lines of this discourse, I’ll attempt to explicate on the wordings of the National Anthem, my thoughts on them, and the feelings they evoke in me; particularly in relation to the straits we find ourselves today as a nation. Enjoy.

“Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey…”

This one is a no brainer. It is a clarion to all persons of Nigerian descent to fulfil their patriotic duty to their country, whenever they’re called upon to do so. But given the derision, contempt and levity with which Nigeria holds the life of its citizenry, is Nigeria’s call truly to be obeyed?

To serve our fatherland, with love and strength and faith

The writer Ayo Sogunro once said, “Everything in Nigeria is going to kill you” and this has never been truer of Nigeria than now. I have no qualms with serving my fatherland, but with love, strength and faith? That I cannot guarantee.
Nigeria is no place to be overly dedicated or patriotic. This notion is reinforced no further than by the death of a female youth corper who had answered the clarion call to serve her fatherland in Kano. Her death resulted due to the negligence of Nigeria in taking care of its own. But rather than take responsibility for her negligence and make amends by taking steps to ensure that such never happens again, Nigeria sought to shift the blame of death on the deceased.
In a nation that cares for its own, one death; is one too many not to talk of the three that were reported, yet, Nigeria continued and carried on as if nothing of import had happened… A nation where troops are reportedly fighting off the threat of insurgency and terrorism without proper equipment… is that the country I’m to serve with love, strength and faith? Issokay. Kontinu.

“The labours of our heroes past, shall never be in vain”

Hehehehehehehehe I laugh out loud in Stanley-Idum. What labours? Which heroes past? If by heroes past they’re referring to Azikiwe, Awolowo, Sarduana and their ilk, my dear, even their grisly remains will turn in their graves on beholding the rot that has become of their dreams. The beautyful ones; rather than nurture their torch to life, were more interested in nurturing their bellies.
Biko, to those who will go before, tell them… tell them that a litre of Kerosene is now Four hundred Naira, tell them that Gala, Gala the last bastion of the common man is now Seventy Naira. Tell them that their torch has failed to flicker, and their labours have being in vain.

To serve with heart and might, one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.’

It appyas serving with heart and might, is different from serving with love, strength and faith… contemplative pose… I have no words.
One nation bound in freedom? Peace? Unity? Situating these concepts within the Nigerian context, the question that comes to my mind is – are we even a nation?  Talkless Talk more of one bound in freedom, peace and unity.
Nigeria as a nation is not united. Religiously, intolerance is the order of the day, every religious group sees their God as the single and one true God that should be worshipped to the exclusion of all others; thus creating artificial conflict, the most recent of which in a long list is that of Southern Kaduna. On the tribal front, the situation is basically the same. Every tribe within the political entity known as Nigeria sees the other as competition, as an enemy that should be trumped and vanquished and not one to be cooperated with. Everywhere in Nigeria, there abounds deep seated resentment amongst tribes and religious groups which if not properly addressed; sooner rather than later, would ultimately become its undoing.

‘O God of creation, direct our Noble cause’

This by far is the truest thing about our national anthem. Cause at this point in our history, only a God of creation; waving his magic stick like Harry Potter can bring back a semblance of order into the affairs of this nation.

‘Guide our leaders right, help our youths the truth to know.’

Our leaders are definitely misguided. If not, how do you explain the quagmire we find ourselves bearing in mind the abundant wealth at our disposal since inception?
Of recent, the Nigerian youths deserve some credit for their appreciation of political issues, its however saddening that we lack a coherent voice. The ones who dared to speak up have been turned against each other, now; they’re either Buharists or Wailing Wailers. Blindsided by money, they can no longer differentiate between right and wrong; they have become timid bulldogs, attack dogs available only to the highest bidder.

‘In love and honesty to grow, and living just and true’

This wan na real aspiration o… with all the kwarupshun going on in the country, even primary school pupil don spoil finish. What is justice? Eskis sah, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but we have no such thing in our vocabulary. Living just and true has become a luxury in the Nigeria of today, it’s an ideal we can only but aspire.

‘Great lofty heights attain, to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.’

This is the prayer of all ‘well-meaning’ Nigerians; to embark on a path that builds rather than destroy. Though we may fall many times, the key is to rise up and to try again, and most assuredly, just like the Israelites of old, slowly but surely; we shall reach the Promised Land.

The post “Arise, O Compatriots” was first featured on The Naked Convos (TNC).

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