Every year, on October 1st, we write essays on how Nigeria has failed its citizens and we have nothing to show for our many years of independence. We talk about the million and one problems of Nigeria and ask what the way forward is. We talk about the inequity and inequality that plague us, the lack of social justice, hunger, starvation, insecurity – the many shades of our problems.
On every Independence Day, when we write the Nigerian story, we tell tales of woe and sorrow, and the struggles of Nigeria and Nigerians. We talk about the bleakness that trails our path, the pain that lurks and rears its head at every turn, and the uncertainty that awaits our future.
Today, at BellaNaija, we are telling a different Nigerian story. The story of a people so resilient that they are pushing through in the most horrendous environment imaginable. Today, we choose to celebrate Nigerians working hard, learning more, grinding every day. Nigerians who leave their homes in the morning with little hope but still push through, having strong faith that one day, their hustle go pay. We are celebrating your doggedness and your commitment to life and success, amidst all odds.
All over the country, as problems persist, Nigerians are stepping up to innovate around a poor economy. They are rising, creating apps, building global companies, setting up NGOs, creating systems and bridging the gap between the people and resources. Today, we are celebrating the kindness of Nigerians. We are celebrating people who crowdfund and pull resources swiftly to help those in need. People who join forces in clamouring for justice even when they are not directly affected. People who refer others to opportunities, who build platforms where they pull other Nigerians up.
What is your Nigerian story?
Our Nigerian story is the #EndSARS protests across the nation – a story of young people who have not given up hope in their country, and are not scared to demand better from those who rule from the top of the rock.
Our Nigerian story is the Tunde Onakoya‘s story we wrote this year. A story of how people’s lives and destinies can be changed for the better through the game of chess. Another is John Amanam who makes prostheses for people who have lost body parts. Our story is of people like Solumkolia and Abigail who beat cancer.
Our Nigerian story is the “welcome to a new dispensation” trend on Twitter – a story of people who are spreading their wings beyond the confines of their environment and are not scared to take bold steps or start afresh.
Our story is about all the creatives, home and abroad featured in the Bellanaija’s Creatives’ Corner Series. Creatives making murals, bending clay, painting, writing, stand-up poetry, and creating in a land that offers little opportunities. Our story is of stars featured on BN Meet The Star, all the rising stars in Discover with BN, and all the beautiful couples featured on The Ever After Series.
In a country filled with negativity and despair, we choose not to forget the most important thing: the people – you. You are the light that keeps burning and cannot be made dim. You are a star, twinkling brighter even when the skies are darkened. You are a wind – wild, free, and you cannot be tamed. You are a bird whose wings cannot be clipped. You are a ray of hope for generations to come. You cannot be stunted. You are powerful and cannot be broken.
Happy independence to all Nigerians. We are because you are and today, we celebrate you.
You are our story.