Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I am one of the few people who enjoy traffic in Lagos. I enjoy the moment when I get on the 3rd mainland, crossing over to the “fast” lane (which usually turns out to be the slowest). It might be a survival instinct, but I have learnt to savour every moment of that ride.
But what is there to enjoy?
Well for one, my Nigerian siblings are calmer. Everyone is very aware of the metal restrictions all around, forcing a more orderly behaviour than they would normally have. And in this environment of tranquility, I am given that rare opportunity to put things in perspective: to see things for what they are and build up a desire of how things should be.
To my right is a Toyota Corrolla, and seated at the back seat (or the “the owner’s corner”) is a light skinned man (most likely of the Yoruba extract). He was driven by a young lad in a white shirt and a red tie that kept a straight face and tried too much not “to upset oga”. The “owner” kept a straight face as he glossed through the dailies, with his head up and an attitude of accomplishment. His appearance embodied the Nigerian delusion of success.
· Possibly just flew down from a meeting in Cyprus and is on his way for a meeting with some senators (on some contract that no one would feel the impact, but he would get awarded for)
· Possibly lives in Victoria Island. His wife owns a store for kid’s ware in Pees Galleria and is currently setting up a crèche in Old Ikoyi for her children.
· He is an icon of respect and EVERYONE WANTS TO BE LIKE HIM!!!
As I observe the likes of “owner corner” baron, it occurred to me that this man could have desired something else. It seems such a trivial thought, but how we overlook such powerful consideration in the quest for survival.
Maybe, he always wanted to be a gym instructor. Maybe he was considered a strange child, one with an obsession on weight gain and loss. He might have excelled in Physical education and joined all the clubs passionately promoting health education and fitness in his small community. But when he got older, weighed down by the pressures of life, he sought the route most travelled. To gain the approval of his family, and fend for himself, he sought after the roles that appealed to all his contemporaries.
So even though his heart desired something else, even though he knows he his better equipped to handle something apparently trivial, what I observe is a man that fit a definition of achievement.
And this is what caused this traffic!! This is the result of a generation blindly aspiring after a definition of success; chasing to do what they are not equipped to do. All this is fueled by a lie:
“Success is only achieved against all odd, it is only achieved when you follow the paths of our successful fathers”
But what if he had chased his dream? What if he remained in Akure as a gym instructor? What if he married Kemi his childhood sweetheart, not Biola, the mysterious girl? What would his life have been like? Would his focus have being to “buy with money what has been created”, or “creating what money can buy”? Putting things into perspective, who would he have become?
I believe a society that functions is a product of many dreams. Every functioning society is beyond doing what is right, beyond learning from the best teachers. Rather it is rooted in the something more fundamental. Communities that soar are those who can desire and in this mist, articulate their essence in the grand scheme of things. Their essence results from everyone chasing personal desires, and by this, crystallizes a reality that can nurture the skills required to sustain the next generation.
And these desires are results of personal experiences; they are personal responses to challenges the environment presents, changing with every new generation. In a sense, a society that will survive is one that can accurate capture the dreams within their environment provide the environment to harness it; in other words, societies that can accurately interpret its' dreams.
Not until, this dawns in our consciousness, not until we are able to glean this reality, we would be stuck in traffic, on this crowded road to success, (dying inside, revolving against the establishment, angry with the next man) at the expense of who we truly are; at the expense of the real Nigerian Spirit.