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For the Country that will Tower Up

WRITTEN BY Adesina Ajala


For the Country that will Tower Up – a submission by Adesina Ajala

“Ask not what your country can do for you— ask what you can do for your country” John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961.

Lately, that word, “Japa”, makes a phenomenal entry into the lexical repertoire of the people of my country. The word connotes “Escape”— that unfettered longing to break free, to seek a better life in developed nations of the earth. I am in a Sienna car at a park in Lagos when I decide to chat with Kolawole, my intimate friend.

“Kola,” I start, “I’m on my way to Ibadan, and I’ll like to put up with you as usual.”

“I left with my family for the UK last week.” He then apologizes, “I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you.” My eyes widened as I let his words remind me of many friends. This has become my recurring experience.

My friends told me of the sheer beauties of those countries they japa to. We would stay on video calls till I am numb with all the nuances that speak to the deliberateness of the citizens of those nations to develop their birthplaces, and I often wonder why we cannot become intentional with ourselves too.

The things I have heard about those developed places now haunt me that I keep running into myself, into that space where the question, “How can I participate in the development of my nation?” finally seeks me for profound answers. The answers do not keep me waiting; they yield themselves in ways that jolt even me. They yield themselves into this essay, where the love for country compels me to write and write, to hope and hope.

To participate in the development of my country, I realize I need to reach out for the light within me, and shine it to dispel the darkness hovering over my tiny sphere of influence. I must cultivate and demonstrate positive values— these time-honoured cultures of integrity, hard work, altruism and community service. The changes I seek my country to come into also yearn for the loam of my heart to sprout up like foliage. I am the change-maker. Joshua Bennet puts it more aptly in his poem, “Say it, Sing it as The Spirit Leads”: “I am not invisible, I am a beam of light.”

Furthermore, like phoenixes, the answers keep rising inside me. I understand that to participate fully in the renaissance of my country for development, I must inspire others to the same ideal. My light needs to light the light of others. Say beginning with my clique of friends, say beginning from my workplace. As I dutifully clasp my burning candlestick in my palms, it will embolden others to shine their lights too. We would soon become a legion— a constellation of lights, replete with the ethos and etiquette that will propel this country into the limelight of development, into the luminescence of greatness and the incandescence of glories.

I can still lend myself wholly to the development of my nation by supporting folks, firms and forums that are already neck-deep in this onerous task of reclaiming this land from the callous grip of retardation. I can volunteer for them; I can donate my money and other soft resources in my possession. Through this, I can help precipitate a critical mass— those fulcrums that will throw this nation up the lofty heights of progress and prosperity.

Politics is a crucial wheel for driving my nation to the destination of development. One brave way to throw weights behind the task of nation- building is by becoming politically-aware. I can participate in the development of my nation by being present in its politics. If I support individuals who have shown capacity for good leadership, I’m participating in the liberation of my nation. And, yes, I can make deliberate efforts to appear on the ballot paper too!

For the country that will tower up, this nation, Nigeria, these are duties worth my (and your) most noble ambition. These are the works we must do so that the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain.

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