I have contemplated my state of mind in regards to being an immigrant, and having lived here in the United States for so long, being extremely wary about relocating to Nigeria, my place of birth and homeland.
Is it the myriads of basic infrastructure that just are not stable? Or the fact that Africa having been independent from her “colonizers” as Shuri rightly mentioned, is yet to produce leaders that are not interested in lining their pockets and offshore bank accounts with the very wealth of the people.
If I never left Nigeria, I will definitely have survived and surely “thrived” but that is a story for another place and time. This brings me to the here and now that fuels thoughts deep enough to be labeled musings.
Last week I was in a Black Panther state of mind, after surviving the very long line at the movie theatre, buying into the excitement all over my kids and the priceless “Hmm, this-Marvel-thing-had-better-be-good” expression on Yinka’s face. We finally made it in, settled down and even had enough time to grab Popcorn!
I was whisked on a whimsical yet reflective, euphoric and again poignant journey to “Wakanda”, a place… ‘No, Kingdom I have dreamed of and been lost in at very different segments of my life most especially my formative years! A place I believed existed even at the time not being acquainted with the Black Panther universe, yet it existed in my mind’s eye.
Growing up in Lagos in the 70s I remember a society that was burgeoning, as Nigeria had discovered vast stores of oil: Bonny Light! which signifies the #Vibranium of Wakanda, which was said to be one of the best grades of crude oil at the time. And, yes at that very beautiful period in the annals of Nigerian History “almost everything worked”.
Yes, there was corruption just like there is in any part of the world, but our basic necessities were met. The general infrastructure worked. There was power, good roads, healthcare, education and most of those things politicians have since promised and have not been able to deliver.
I remember waking up in the morning and looking out of my grandmother’s window at #39 Aralile Street, Surulere on Lagos Mainland to the site of women dressed in uniformed native wear (iro, buba and gele) with long brooms and big baskets sweeping the streets.
I remember not having to be coaxed by whip wielding policemen to use the over-head bridge at Barracks Bus Stop, I remember the traffic lights at Adeniran Ogunsanya,
I remember watching Bonanza on Nigerian Television Authority Channel 10 and telling my late Uncle Jose “I Jam Blocker” (Dan Blocker) and I had just ridden my horse over my grandmother’s roof this morning while he was still sleeping”. In hindsight, I cannot even remember why Dan Blocker was my favorite actor from Bonanza, I guess maybe because he was the biggest and he knocked more guys around.
I also remember the news on television with Ikenna Daguba, Mike Enahoro, and Julie Coker, not to forget the sports segment with Yinka Craig and once in a while Bisi Lawrence with some specials.
So, which brings me back to Black Panther’s Wakanda. Nigeria was my Wakanda, only because through the lenses of my childhood I never imagined in my wildest nightmares that a nation with boundless potentials, vast resources both natural and human, would be quasi developed as it is today whereby basic amenities are only available to the mostly affluent corrupt and the bourgeoisie few.
This is not to say that there are no honest, hardworking individuals in Nigeria, the conundrum being faced is how to replace the moral fabric of the society which has rapidly descended into a cesspool of decadence, an unbelievable callousness which unfortunately seems to have reached a point of no return.
I tell my 11-year-old son that he comes from a very proud heritage and culture, but I am also very conscious of explaining to him why it may be difficult for us to once again settle in Nigeria, but make a point of saying “difficult” and not “impossible” because I still have dreams of “Wakanda-esque” utopia, super-imposed on the African landscape with a government for the people, technology that even the western world will envy, with proud and eloquent black men, beautiful strong black women with children whose future is as bright as the morning star and older generation with histories as colorful and magnificent as the sunsets of the Motherland.
This is a dream that has yet again been awakened by the complex kaleidoscope delivered by Ryan Coogler in Black Panther. #Kudos #MustSeeMovie
I want to believe that there are many dreamers like me out there and even if we are not able to bring this dream into fruition in my generation, please begin today to inculcate these dream into your young sons and daughters here in Diaspora, give them the hope that they can and should achieve that which we may not be able to achieve, let them know whose sons and daughters they truly are.
Do not forget to tell them it is going to take the grace of God to achieve this as they will face a continuous barrage of difficulties along the way.
Here is a snippet of what is yet to come:
The “Wakanda-esque” utopia in my dreams comprises of three very uniquely diverse group of young, bright and beautiful black people in this order; Born on the Motherland, Born in Diaspora of migrant parentage, and Born outside of the Motherland often with a broken link but of African descent.