Mazeed Mukhtar Oyeleye writes,

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an extract from a speech given by late Nelson Rolihlala Mandela, which goes thus; “the world will never respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The black people of the world are looking up to Nigeria to be a source of confidence. Every citizen should be made to understand this”.

I was dumbfounded. Does this hold any water? Can Africa earn the respect any time soon? More unanswered questions ran through my mind, provoking thoughts. These thoughts rejuvenated the memory of an event that occurred at Torabora in the second week into this semester.

One Saturday evening, as the call was made for Muslims’ sunset prayer (Maghrib), one of the inhabitants like myself who resumed early, was cooking in the kitchen. He put out his stove and went for the prayer, only to return and find his stove missing. He combed through the kitchens searching frantically for it, to no avail. He was almost picking up a quarrel with someone who happened to be using a similar one, when an alarm was raised.

Lo and behold! Another stove was missing. The alarm served as a clarion call to others who scampered in search of theirs. Alas! Quarter a score of those around were confirmed victims. It dawned upon us then, that our kitchens had been ransacked, our stoves’ whereabouts unintelligible.

“Torabora” was in a state of bedlam that evening. People whined continuously about the appalling financial condition, coupled with the unfortunate incident. That night was one hell of a kind as the usual melody of chirping of birds was overwhelmed by the displeasing roar of empty bellies.

The next day broke with hisses, like ‘good morning’ kisses. The forlorn look on faces spoke volumes of bitterness amidst prevalent hunger. People mounted their beds, holding fast to their duvets, to catch sleep in breakfast’s stead, while others booked turns behind those who were lucky enough to not be victims.

Luck finally smiled at us as the sun started to grin. A boy of about 9 years old approached my room which happened to be at one end. He pleaded to be gifted with a stove like we did his friends. The word ‘stove’ brought over ten people to the door, the boy was puzzled but he repeated himself as he was bid. He was bombarded with questions from all angles and it turned out that he found a questionable number of stoves in possession of his three friends. On inquiry however, he was told that they were given the stoves at “Torabora”. They also warned him not to come asking for his, as there was no more to be given out.

The boy was asked to guide a search party to his friends and he obliged. The boys made to flee as they saw them approaching, but were obviated. They were within the same age bracket as their friend. They were interrogated and eventually admitted stealing three stoves after much ado. They were then asked to produce the stoves and they headed for their village in company of the search party.

However, the boys got to a point where they refused to proceed in company of the search party. They begged to be allowed to go fetch the stoves without company because their mother would deal with them if she got to learn of their misdemeanour. They were allowed to leave, but were tailed without their knowledge. They rushed into the house and asked their mother who happened to be washing some stoves at that time, to hide them.

The search party interrupted as she made to do as they bid. They packed up the four stoves at the spot before starting to interrogate the astute mother and her juvenile delinquent kids, employing threats in the process. They were at it for close to an hour, before the villagers stormed the house, claiming the search party was harassing the woman unjustly just because she was a widow. The search party had to leave after recovering a dozen stoves stolen from the kitchen, excluding that of the victim-zero.

What an eyesore! A mother whose duty is to bring up her children in a godly way, aiding and abetting crimes they commit. They steal the stoves, while she cleans and prepares them to be sold. All these happened in the Northern part of Nigeria, uniquely characterised by the height of piety and morality, and the birthplace of Sheikh Usmanu Danfodiyo, famous for the widespread of the Islamic religion in Nigeria. What then is to be expected from the South, heavily laden with the perilous aspects of Western culture.

I think Sir Nelson Mandela was wrong for saying such, but what if he was right? Is this the Nigeria other black nations should be looking up to? Are we the Nigerians who are supposed to lead Africa out of shame? And is it this teeming generation of crime dynamists that would lead Africa to the limelight? If and only if Sir Mandela was right, I weep for Africa, as Nigeria is failing and would continue to fail as the pacesetter to other black nations, until we wake up.

Wake up Nigerians! For the time is nigh. We have to reach deep beyond our corrupt hearts and force out that dying spirit of morality and patriotism passed onto us genetically. Until then will Africa know any peace or rise amidst the shame into the limelight.

The time is nigh Nigerians! If we truly are, the much anticipated generation of change. The time has come for us to think, reflect and decide if we ever want to sanctify the sullied image of Africa in the eyes of the world.

If and only if we’re truly the Giant of Africa, It is up to us to prove Sir Mandela right, as the future of Africa rests on our conscience and sincere resolve.

Arise O! Compatriots, the time is nigh to make Africa great again!

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