Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great...

"Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.” (Jim Rohn).

I first shared this story on and would like to tell it again. A couple of weeks ago, Oyetola (not real name) was selected by an international organization to represent Nigeria at a conference in London. As he later recounted “I just applied for the conference and I got in…” I paused for a few minutes; waiting for him to tell me he was using the opportunity to abscond, after all, relocating from the shores of Nigeria is something he has always pursued fervently. But was I disappointed! “I took part (in the program) and I was inspired. Now I know it is better for me to return home, because there are a lot of things I could do there… Trust me, I will be home in about two weeks…”

No longer is Oyetola obsessed with the idea that real life begins outside the shores of the continent. Although he admits life in the continent is stressful, he said for the first time he realized that to make a good life for himself, he would also need to contribute to Nation building. If it took a week conference for the young man to experience such a paradigm shift, I put aside my beef against youths who are always attending conferences after conferences instead of committing their time and resources to doing hands-on development work.

“It would take a whole generation to change Nigeria because it took a generation to destroy it.” Oyetola said, reflecting on how the program impacted his perspective about the current socio-political landscape in Nigeria. “Whose generation then?” I asked. “Our generation. But it has to be a collective effort…to effect a total revolution” he said.

The condition in Nigeria today damages the self-esteem and aspirations of many youths. Oyetola compared it with walking on the street of London aimlessly without a sense of direction. Nigeria has so many resources and potential, yet it seems out of the grasp of the average Nigerian youth…

Like Oyetola, many of us need a re-awakening experience to enable us re-channel our energy, passion and commitment to nation building, without compromise. When Nelson Mandela, the former South African President, addressed the crowd at Trafalgar Square in London’s Make Poverty History Campaign, He said: “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. Of course the task will not be easy.But not to do this would be a crime against humanity, against which I ask all humanity now to rise up.” That was five years ago. But his words resonate to youths today, in Nigeria and everywhere...sometimes, it falls upon a generation to be great, we can be that great generation.

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