One of my mother’s favourite stories to us was how she travelled to the UK in the mid-80s on annual leave to visit her husband, who was a postgraduate student there. She was able to do that despite being only a mid-level civil servant. She always used that to illustrate how good the Nigerian economy was, compared to what it is now.
Stories like that are nothing new to us; we have always heard of the good old days from generations above us: how there was very little corruption, how everyone had enough for himself and even others, how truly wealthy Nigeria was then. We always hear stories of how we were at par with countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, etc. at independence, and how today, we cannot dare to stand to be measured with them on almost any parameter that is an indication of good life. It is stories like this that make us shake our heads and heap more curses on those who have had the privilege to be in leadership, and yet squandered our opportunities.
But beneath all this is a dangerous pattern we have entrenched: we have unconsciously ingrained into the minds and consciousness of Nigerians the habit of always looking backwards at past glories, rather than looking forward at new glories that could be created. As much as history is excellent for everyone, be it individual or a nation, holding on to memories of ‘good old days’ creates in one a tendency to be lost in nostalgia rather than pushing forward to create new, sweet memories.
Stagnation and setbacks are periods in our lives that are inevitable, no matter how much we work to avoid them. Sometimes, they could be due to our own makings. Sometimes, it might just be due to a series of unfortunate events. In Nigeria’s case, it has been solely the making of our own hands. But yet, holding on to a glorious past while faced with the problems of the present is definitely no means to creating a better future.
We have to change the rhetoric in our nation from one that is far less backward-looking to one that is looking to the future. We have to learn to inspire people to speak of a beautiful tomorrow that will be the result of their actions. There has never been a more dire time in this country where we need people who have a clear vision of a wonderful, beautiful future this country should enjoy and are willing to take us there. We need these reformers in every sector of our national life, most especially in governance and the public sector.
Let us borrow a leaf from the 2008 campaign of US President Barack Obama, whose campaign was not just to win the office of the President, but was also used to do a reawakening in the spirit of the American people to believe that the future they constantly dream of was possible with the involvement of everyone, encapsulated in his campaign motto, ‘Yes, We Can’.
Let our dreams be stronger and more vivid than our memories. We cannot reach the future while we are holding on to our past.
This article was written by Yada Magazine Contributor, Mark Amaza. He is a Passionate Nigerian; Chief Thinker/CEO of MINDcapital, a strategy, innovation and branding consulting firm by day; coordinator of NIGERIA:UNITED, a youth-based movement working to foster national unity despite our religious, regional and ethnic differences. He blogs at http://markamaza.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @amasonic
Image from powerfulmothers.wordpress.com