Nothing in my reckoning drives home Nigeria’s reputation as a country with a strong aversion for heroes and heroines as the recent mild scuffle over a seat in an aircraft between Prof Wole Soyinka, black Africa’s only winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and an unknown young man. It should be a source of embarrassment to Nigeria that her only Nobel laureate can be so easily pissed on by a young man who should be looking up to him. It is the sort of thing that can happen only in a country that has been almost fittingly disparaged as a shithole.
Prof Wole Soyinka has been iconic in the past half century; putting in astonishing works that stood him out among equals. Kongi, as he is fondly called, has been so iconic that no Nigerian who has been exposed to the mass media in the past half century can claim not to know him. It should therefore worry us that Nigeria is fast becoming a wilderness of sorts; a vast stretch of shrubbery with no tall trees. Put more directly, Nigeria has no heroes.
Nigeria leaves me bewildered all the time. We crucify President Buhari for not having enough learning. We piss freely on Wole Soyinka who is the icon of enlightenment and scholarship. Please, who is ripe enough in Nigeria? Who? My friend Chimamanda Adichie is a heroine abroad but in Nigeria, she faces a different conundrum. While she deployed soft power to make Hilary Clinton change her twitter title in America, her compatriots at home seethed with smouldering rage. How dare Adichie interrogate Mrs Clinton’s choices? Still, almost every Ivy League college in the US has honoured Adichie since that incident.
The cases of Jay Jay Okocha and Kanu Nwankwo are pathetic. These two should be modern day heroes having redefined football for Nigeria at the global level. But Kanu’s titanic struggle to save his hotel, The Hardley Apartments in Lagos and the repeated attempts to smear Okocha’s name with purported tax evasion charges should worry us. Rashidi Yekini who scored Nigeria’s first World Cup goal died in ignominy. Please, who is the Nigerian hero?
I think that something is wrong with Nigeria. Nigeria is a hole-in-the-heart baby.
A nation without heroes and heroines has no future!
By James Eze