Sun, 11 Feb 2024 Feature Article

Home Sweet Home: No Place Like Home No Longer Sustainable

Home Sweet Home: No Place Like Home No Longer Sustainable

The feelings of Youths towards their country is different from those that grew up willing to die for the liberation of their people from Colonial domination and humiliation. Patriotism has gone out of sight. Replaced by a rush of individuals waiting for their turns to share the National Cake. Young people old enough and having their own children could not remember anytime in their lives when Nigeria had a regular supply of electricity, water, subsidized adequate education and hospitals while reaping the benefit of foreign income from the 70s Arab Oil Embargo.

However, no country can survive on foreign income by importing everything without diverse exports for long. Our Youths were brought up on new and used foreign goods paid for by a single commodity: crude Oil from the Arab Embargo windfall. Before then, foreign money and imports were selective like every country in the world. This was the reason Naira was at par with British pound and equal to one and a half U.S dollars then.

It must be repeated that the best time to serve African countries is in our youth. Africa is not a burial ground as some foreign leaders have noted. We need young viable men and ladies that can rock, endure or change hostile environments as a result of little infrastructure. The lack of adequate infrastructure makes the difference in the survival of poor people either in Africa or in the developed world in very cold and hot weather.

When we revolted against foreign culture after Independence, African cultures claim that it is difficult to forget where your Umbilical Cord is buried and you do not point to your father's land with the left finger. Unless you are driven by existential fear that can eliminate your very being. While the loved ones cannot wait for your return home; cynical people wait to exploit you as you return, out of greed. In other words, da bii mo se da!

Unfortunately, it is not clear cut. Some folks that wish you well, fear for your safety while cynics already estimated your worth and how much they could make out of you regardless of your financial status or capacity. You either meet their expectations or perish. If someone tells you to stay away, it is not necessarily those that dislike you. It was never that way in the days when our parents cried for you to return home and neighbors kept wondering if you were lost overseas.

There are many reasons for longing to come back home just as some excuses for not coming back. This could be so if you have not achieved much abroad since you left. Yet, there are those that have achieved a great deal, left high paying jobs and a convenient way of life for a home that has changed since they left. Some even came back with wives and children that have never been to Africa despite all the challenges.

The love of the country gripped the older generation as a result of the sacrifices made by those before them. They became Activists in their twenties and thirties, fought against oppressive Powers of their time as the Nigerian Youth Movement led by Herbert Macauiey. Encouragement from Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, Govan Mbeki, Albert Luthuli in South Africa, Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya to Tanzania's Julius Nyeyere were all in good company of one another.

Their priorities were not only liberation of their people from ignorance, diseases but providing education, adequate housing and industrial estates. Development some few years after the Independence their children enjoyed surpassed the hundred years of the Dark Continent. These leaders paved the way for freedom. Unfortunately, their children, without their pains, assumed leadership only to become greedy and selfish ingrates that changed the face of poverty from Asia to Africa, the land of milk and honey. It is these new colonial trained political opportunists that plunged their people into abject poverty.

Actually clean water, electricity, transportation and access to good roads make a difference to living a long life. They prevent sickness in inadequate hospitals. As we get older, hostile environments take a bigger toll on us. Indeed, many older and senior citizens no longer go out for fresh air or enjoy scenery. Even in their homes, they need basic amenities beyond their means. Only the middle class or the privileged, can afford to provide their own clean water, electricity and grow or buy healthy food into the personal islands they build around themselves.

Even those that have looted billions and deserted the country, get homesick and do return home to face the consequences of their actions. It is not only today's politicians, foreign money launderers, 419ers or drug dealers but innocent Nigerians that have established themselves abroad. Shagari's Attorney General Richard Akinjide, who had a well established legal practice in London, came home and went back after politics. But came back home again.

So were others like Akinloye and Umaru Dikko. If you do loot enough, you can always come back and buy your way through the judicial system. But you might still serve some time in the primitive inadequately funded prisons. Governor Alamsko and Ibori were welcomed back home like heroes despite looting their states blind. Such is the magnetic attraction that people return to suffer the consequences of their transgressions at home until they buy their way to freedom.

This is in contrast to those selling houses, land and cars to enable them to pay for visas and buy tickets to any foreign land with over a million naira. The same fortune that can start legitimate business and become sustainable at home; but would not pay for a month's stay abroad. When they are stranded as house helps turned into slaves or in the desert and sea, they remember the country they call zoo and shithole asking for their governments to rescue them.

There is the saying that a lady has to taste two homes of lovers or husbands, before realizing the better one. The problem here is that Africans abroad who were underemployed, abused and disrespected never admitted it when bragging about their sojourn in foreign lands. They do not want to be seen as failures or espouse regrets. One refugee actually died camping on the street in the cold weather of Canada.

The situation is gradually changing with today's social media exposing glorified slavery of Africans abroad with the cooperation of foreign and local agents exploiting temporary visas granted to Healthcare workers. But for the intervention of nonprofit and volunteer organizations, victims fear deportation rather than their own deteriorating health or poverty abroad. They would not report unscrupulous agents paying them far less than livable minimum wage. A brutal life away from home.