The secret to a promising future lies in unlocking the wisdom and insight the portals of the past hold. In essence, an adequate understanding of where you’re coming from is key to having a proper perspective of where you’re going.
Lately, I’ve come to a realization of the fact that a lot of us are totally ignorant of our background, culture and general history. We have turned our backs on the past. A sizable number of us having little or no idea about how we gained independence, the idiosyncrasies of the good and bad past leaders we’ve had, the events that shaped the leadership of our nation from inception till now, the names of those who fought for our independence, and a couple of other interesting bits of information. We have become spectacularly naive, shamefully ignorant of many of the things that shaped the country to what it is today.
The easy way out is to blame our parents and guardians for their failure to consciously hand these tales down to us, but who are we kidding? In the end, we owe it to ourselves to educate ourselves deliberately on our foundational stories, historical happenings along the corridors of time, as well as the standout ‘actors’ in the screenplay that our country’s formation can be regarded as. Some of our parents have told us about these histories, others have failed to, and that’s why some of us lack identity. Whether we like it or not, at some point in our lives, nature will give us a chance to effect a change; in our neighborhood or even the nation at large. Our decisions and choices in those moments would have an effect on the nation— minute or massive. The best decisions can only be made when one knows what worked or failed in the past and puts such knowledge into consideration when faced with decisions. Records are kept so that they can be referred to and learnt from, thus, it becomes imperative to calculatively pass necessary bits of our history to the forthcoming generations in order to prepare them for challenges ahead. Parents need to tell their children about their pasts; the good and bad decisions they made and the consequences. Sadly, we see today that all some parents tell their kids is how they blazed the trail in all places they found themselves, conveniently failing to cite instances of their inadequacies and failures. That approach to educating people is counterproductive as it has the tendency of making them fail to take risks, see mistakes as a necessary part of their making, and positions them to live too cautiously which reduces their chances of being truly productive and efficient at the things they do.
I am going to use the POTUS~ Barack Obama as a case study in this article. I read his book titled “Dreams from my Father” last week.
In my humble opinion, what Barack had to do – his purpose, became clearer after his first trip to Kenya to visit his known and unknown relatives.
When he was running about in Chicago as an activist, trying to “organize” the black community, his sister had visited him and brought news about their father, she was the first person who told him all he didn’t know about his father and after that visit, his perception of his father changed. He wrote: I wasn’t satisfied (with what had been achieved in Chicago), maybe it was connected to Auma’s (his sister) visit and the news she had brought of the old man (his father). Where once, I had felt the need to live up to his expectations, I now felt as if I had to make up for his mistakes. Only the nature of these mistakes still wasn’t clear in my mind; I still couldn’t read the signpost that might warn me away from the wrong turns he’d taken. That was one of the moments that fueled his desire to visit Kenya before leaving for law school. The conundrum of a curious man yearning to know about his roots, a man who knew he had to understand and make peace with a past he is willingly or unwillingly connected to, a past he had no control over, a past that was lived by his ancestors. He understood the importance of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of his harbingers, and the mistakes that must not be repeated. He knew he had to ferret this past to have a clearer vision of who he is and where he is going to.
Shortly before Barack left Kenya, having listened to every bit of history about his root, here is what he wrote: I felt a calmness wash over me, I felt the circle finally close. I realized that who I was, what I cared about, was no longer just a matter of intellect or obligation, no longer a construct of words. I saw that my life in America—the black life, the white life, the sense of abandonment I felt as a boy, the frustration and hope I’d witnessed in Chicago—all of it was connected to this small plot of earth on ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the color of my skin. The pain I felt was my father’s pain. My questions were my brothers’ questions. Their struggle, my birthright.
He must have figured he wasn’t alone in the struggle; his identity became as clear as day.
I would take a few steps into the past of Nigeria in the second part of this article which would be posted in the next few days.