A Tale of Two Nigerians

Everyday we are inundated with stories from around the world. It doesn’t matter where you are, once logged on to the internet on your device, the location gaps close.

Hurricane Harvey is discussed in Lagos, like it happened in our backyard. I follow the news religiously, making sure loved ones are safe. Like some would say “the world is online” plug in and out as you will.

I came across a story yesterday that threatened to ruin my day. It was about wide scale fraud, perpetrated by an infamous Nigerian Adekunle Johnson Omitiran, also, known as Johnson Chrome.

This alleged criminal, left a very bad taste in my mouth. I thought about our already “damaged international reputation” and how stories like his, help to reinforce those narratives.

I thought of all the amazing Nigerians like you, who do the best they can with what they have. I encouraged myself thinking “someday soon our stories would be told correctly”.

The universe heard my thoughts and I chanced upon a TED talk from the super talented Laolu Senbanjo.

His talk showed the ingenuity of the Nigerian spirit. He started with an oriki (Yoruba praise chants), giving our ancestors their due. He talked about history, art, African spirituality and Christianity, tolerance, whilst expressing his hopes and dreams. You still, need to go watch that video. I have seen it 5 times now, once with my children, who are so inspired by him. They couldn’t stop staring at the walking, talking pieces of art. It was such a fun learning experience.

In one day, I got a huge dose of two different Nigerians. Same ethnic group, different use of talent. This got me thinking about our personal choices.

What kind of choices are you making today?

I know in Nigeria some believe crime pays. I tell you what though, no one would give a fraudster a stage like TED. The best is they get is some kind of honour amongst thieves locally. In the grand scheme of things, they don’t matter. Many are forgotten as soon as they are caught or dead. The lifestyle gives nothing back to humanity.

However, imagine what would be said of a Laolu Senbanjo, when he goes to meet our ancestors. His art would live on and continue to inspire a whole generation of young African artists and humans everywhere.

We remember, a Chinua Achebe not the infamous “Anini” a criminal who wrecked terror in Benin City in the 1980s. I am not sure his children introduce themselves as his offspring in public. Imagine if I couldn’t say, I am my father’s daughter.

Beyond the “shame”associated with crime, I think it is against our nature to choose less than who we are. The spiritual philosophy of The Sacred Art of the Ori, crafted by Laolu, challenges us to embrace our true essence.

Our religious beliefs, whether Christianity or Islam does not promote crime. We are called to embrace our God selves. To be that which we were created to be and leave our footprints in the sands of time.

There is a Laolu in all of us. The potential to break new grounds like Chinua Achebe and all those who have come before us.

If we go within and embrace who we are, Nigeria would show the world true blackness. The soul of the black race resides within us. It is not just about population. It is in our different ethnic groups and our connections to mother earth.

This melting pot of several black nations that is called Nigeria can work, if we choose to remember who we are. We have forgotten. Our forefathers want us to remember. They want us to embrace our “sacred ori” and take territories.

My day started with sour news from Toronto and ended beautifully in Vancouver, British Columbia.

May our ancestors continue to live on, through the depth of our dreams. We have so much potential. This is the turning point generation, we are the ones who break the narratives. We are going back to our roots and this time, there would be no separations between who we are and how we show up in the world.


Photo Credit: Google Images/Laolu Senbanjo