By Muyiwa Adetiba
My ancestors say Niinuikokoduduniekofunfuntin’jade’. Translated literally, it means that out of the black pot comes white pap’. It is an adage which is used to illustrate that something pure and beautiful can sometimes come out of dark, seamy places.
It was the adage that immediately came to me when I opened a video clip which went completely against the negative, self-righteous, combative and frankly depressing clips that had dominated the social media space of late.
It was a seven minute video in which a mother celebrated the Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). Her daughter had been diagnosed with a hole in the heart late last year and was referred to LASUTH.
Like most of us, she was reluctant to subject her daughter to such a delicate operation in a government hospital. Like most of us, she believed – sometimes erroneously – that a private hospital offered a better option. She was, rather fortunately in this case, constrained by funds not to take that option. But what gave a mother hope that all would be well with her daughter and a beleaguered nation hope of a better tomorrow, was the attitude of the Consultant Cardiologist, a Doctor Falase. According to the video, he encouraged, empathised, assured and as some point, offered to help raise the required money.
The operation was successful at about half the price of a private hospital. But that itself is half the story. A surprised mother’s post-surgery visit to her daughter, saw a well -equipped ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and met caring and professional care-givers. Hence the video. Given the circumstances of the past two weeks in our dear country, this short video encapsulated all that could be good in Nigeria and made the adage to be apt and timely.
The video I believe, was also made by a positive minded person who wanted Nigerians to see what is good in Nigeria. I say this because the likes of Dr Falase abound in many professions in Nigeria. They are hardly reported let alone celebrated. We would rather look for the negative about Nigeria in order to re-inforce a negative mind -set.
So depressed was I by all that was flying around that I almost didn’t open the video and would not have if it had appeared on a general platform. Fortunately, a close friend whom I converse regularly with first sent it with a footnote ‘God bless Dr Falase. God bless LASUTH. God bless LSG. We are a blessed people if only we can get our governance right’. This friend who divides his time between Nigeria and the US, had a positive experience with a Nigerian doctor earlier in the year. COVID 19 caught him in Nigeria, and like many, couldn’t make a scheduled medical appointment for an ailment he had been managing for years. Fearing a serious deterioration, he asked around and was recommended a doctor here who not only changed his drugs, but changed his diet as well. My friend claimed he hasn’t felt better in years.
Earlier in the day, I had asked another US based friend and former colleague if he had voted knowing who he was likely to vote for. He affirmed he had voted and explained he had to wake up at crack of dawn to do so. He concluded by stating ‘The sad part? I would rather be voting in Esan’. Esan for those who might be puzzled, is in Edo State. It was a writer’s way of indicating where his heart was. It is a sentiment many Nigerians in the diaspora will identify with. They would rather worry about their country of birth than their country of residence. Most would come home at the drop of a hat if the vibes were right. Many had stayed behind after obtaining the proverbial golden fleece hoping their stay would be temporary. But the longer they pulled back from returning, the bigger the fears. Their situation is not helped by those who emigrate for economic and professional reasons. Many later find that the grass is not always green on the other side, but by then it is too late.
To return without anything substantial is to be labelled a failure. Besides, where do you start when corporate jobs are disappearing everyday?That explains why many people in the diaspora are angry with the leadership at home. They see it as a leadership that denies them abode in the only place they can truly call home and instead made them refugees around the world.
A leadership that makes the country hostile to its children at home and abroad. The #endSARS movement is a demonstration of that anger and frustration. The protest was a cry from people who want their country to work. The aftermath of the protest was a part eruption of what has been smouldering among the down trodden and the forgotten in the society for years.
The video clip is a glimpse of what is possible in the country. That it went viral so quickly shows the willingness of Nigerians to wish it into reality in every aspect of the polity. It is not lost on some of us that the week also raised the likelihood of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, clinching the much coveted headship of the world Trade Organisation (WTO). If this happens, it will be a shattering of a glass ceiling for sub-Saharan Africans. It is another glimpse of what is possible in Nigeria. So we can choose to look at Nigeria as a failing country where nothing is working or we can choose to look at recent happenings as the darkest hour before dawn with examples of Drs Falase and Okonjo-Iweala as the faint light of a promising dawn.
I will end with an excerpt from Hillary Clinton’s recent book ‘What Happened’. It was part of the message a Methodist Pastor sent to her after she lost an election everybody thought she would win. It says ‘For the disciples and Christ’s followers in the first century, Good Friday represented the day that everything fell apart. All was lost. They betrayed, denied, mourned, fled and hid. They did about everything but feel good about Friday and their circumstances. You are experiencing a Friday. But Sunday is coming. Death will be shattered. Hope will be restored. But first we must live through the darkness and seeming hopelessness of Friday’.
It is my fervent hope that the events of the last few days climaxed what has been our dark Friday and that Sunday is round the corner to usher in hope and fulfilment.
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