By: Sophie Ay
Come to think of it; we are happier than our forefathers ever were. I dare say we are even luckier. Thanks to history, we have clearly seen that no better generation ever had it all like us. Our ‘white’ education was a priceless gift from our colonisers, even if some people did pay for it with tears, oil and blood. Hundreds of moons after and in our darkest hours came electricity; the very one we are so fond of hailing our dearest NEPA for. Let’s just agree the invention of electricity, or light as we came to call it in Naija, was a gift our forefathers badly missed out on. They would have never understood the accounting skills it takes for the NEPA people to bring the monthly bills at incredulous charges after months of no power. Surely, talks of transformers blowing up and government-owned poles falling after a warm breeze might have given them heart attacks, too.
I can almost picture my great great great grandfather in the late 1800s smoking his pipe in his thatched hut lit by an old paraffin lamp … oh, how sad he must have been, unable to see in the night.
After light, we were given witchy-witchy airplanes by the Americans, awon oyibo. I’m talking about those aeroplanes that fly people abroad, not the ones used for wars. I think our forefathers were not lucky people … because how else can you explain them missing out on plane crashes, hikes in air ticket prices, and the thrill of staring out of a plane as it flies high in the sky? Even awon iya can’t get that high, and they are the caretakers of the world, for that matter. Anyways, without the gift of air transport, I bet we won’t ever be this connected to our colonisers … that we now dare to enter their precious kingdom without chains, guns and violence. To think, in the past, our forefathers needed slave ports and now we … simple pass ports. Gradually from being a luxury only the rich could afford, it is now something we have in our country. Imagine that! We now own our own airplanes. Yes, we didn’t manufacture them but they are still ours.
I like to think of Democracy as a cake. Something our forefathers could only dream of. But here we are, happily licking the icing on the cake like children. I do not know much about colonialism but from the little I have seen of those elections held every four years; our forefathers wouldn’t have had the heart to live through 16 demanding years under the people’s party and eight toxic years with the ones who promised change. Surely, they would have all picked up their canes, red caps, and agbada and matched to the Big Rock in Abuja to remove the one they call president. They had no patience like us; they know not that dealing with those owners of democracy takes suuru, as the Yorubas call it. After all, Nigerian democracy is clearly of the government, by the government, and for the government. It’s ironic how they make us think we are the ones giving them the cake, but while we watch, they feed and feed, letting crumbs fall off the platter for us, the masses. These crumbs are what our parents eat, lick their hands and leave small pieces for us, the children.
If history accounts well as we have seen in movies and read in novels, our forefathers sadly didn’t know God. They called on Sango, Ogun, Obatala, Barbushe, Tsimburbura, Amadioha, including Esu. They were ‘robbed’ of sacrifices by the spirits, and even gave those priests good produce from their farms. ‘Religion is not a business,’ our saintly leaders tell us, so we only give from our hearts. Our forefathers would never have understood this difference. Their hearts were sadly not happy enough to see what you and I see when we make those donations and offerings at the altar and mosques. They would have questioned the authority of our sanctimonious priests to speak for God, something, as true worshippers, we will never do. Religion is quite different from faith; I tell you, they had faith and we own religion … the one-way ticket to heaven.
Tell me, aren’t we indeed luckier?
Our 2000s came with mobile phones and social media, two strange words that wouldn’t have settled in with our forefathers at all. They are probably rolling in the ground right now, wondering what madness we are pulling on Facebook, the cruise we are catching on Twitter, sorry … X, the lies we post as stories on WhatsApp, or why we worship influencers on Instagram and stay glued to dance videos on TikTok. They would never have understood the joy and excitement that comes from subscribing on our phones to stay online all day and watch influencers live the lives we wish were ours, or how we enjoy celebrities drag each other online, or the happiness we derive from reading the latest scandals and gossips, some untrue and others, not our business.
Given these divine blessings, I bet our forefathers surely wouldn’t think of anonymously posting a friend’s secret online, sharing a partner’s sex tapes or having international romantic affairs with women born to our colonisers. They would never have enjoyed all the benefits which we have now. To them, social media would have just been a bad influence, causing mass media destruction, juvenile delinquency, and family breakups.
Before us, marriage used to be a stay-or-die affair with our forefathers, but now, we get to choose when to stay or leave … even divorce comes with its goodies. We are now freer to decide who to love, whether it’s a good, married neighbour with three kids and a pregnant wife or some stranger with a cute profile on Facebook. Trust me; our freedom is so free that we do not need to seek any counsel before courtship or marriage; we just dive in and dive out if it’s not pleasant … Trial and error style.
Let’s not forget how youths like me love more than Romeo and Juliet ever did; there’s toasting, romance, paying bills and going shopping, ghosting, and so much breakfast to go around. This is something our forefathers would never have understood, especially the popular saying that the net is so large to just kick one ball without trying the others. Yeah, we love. We love deeply; ourselves, not others, if that’s what you were thinking. And don’t call it selfish; it’s self-love, which brings up another interesting word: self-identity. Our forefathers couldn’t express their interests personally. Heck, they didn’t have the liberty to decide whether to be a strong man this minute or a feminine woman the next, nor choose to be a woman after being born a man. I tell you, we are freer than any other generation that ever lived.
Have you noticed how just anyone can just go online and decide to say anything they want without fear of retribution? That’s free speech, darling. The power to speak or pass information without censorship. In our forefathers’ time, they probably couldn’t look the Oba straight in his eyes without being beheaded, question the orders of the Igwe without fear of execution or demand the impeachment of the Sultan without facing banishment. But we enjoy that freedom so easily.
In our era, we can hide behind the safety of our phones and lie about things we have no evidence about. We can chase after clouds and speak vividly about incidents somewhere up North while living in Lagos. Our freedom of speech is so free that we are never held accountable for defamation, misinformation and disinformation, the very factors ruining our country. Mind you, we do love a good protest. There is this sense of patriotism we feel when we march for a peaceful protest, fighting for a cause that we surely know nothing of — actions our elders in the office like to scold us for. Our forefathers from the 1900s defended their societies. On the other hand, we only raise our voices for peace, but not our flags for the country.
The sweetest thing about our time is that there’s always something trending. Celebrity dragging, notorious kidnapper, failed attempt to smuggle drug by a celebrity, disappearance of school children, hijack of a moving train, fake certificate saga, political kerfuffle, Ebola begets COVID-19, Emefelefele and his new notes, ritual killings, yahoo boys uprising, sex tape scandals, and the many many shows that entertain and educate us … BBAFRICA, BBNAIJA, and we are waiting on the next big brother sha.
When you add fuel subsidy removal, inflation, a tiny per cent of employment, poor power supply and a host of other things, it’s no surprise many Nigerians like to japa on time. They are so concerned about the country, I think, they are going abroad to learn the secrets of how other people, including our colonial masters, run their countries well. I’m sure after working for years, they will return to further make our Naija a happy place. Something our forefathers could never have done … they went as slaves, worked for years and never returned. I feel so bad for them.
Now, didn’t I tell you we are happier than our forefathers ever were?
Indeed, we are luckier.