The 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence is proving bittersweet. The enormity of the country’s problems, on the eve of a national election, prompted an impressive collection of stories from the pre-eminent chronicler of economic Africa, the Financial Times. But behind the relentless co-evolution of wealth and poverty in Africa’s most populous nation stands a sense of loss, of missed opportunity and of the hope that arises from hopelessness. Nigeria, it sometimes seems to me, must spawn its own Camus, an existential writer who can defuse the national tendency towards wild, overblown public optimism coupled with private cynicism of profound dimensions. Perhaps Femi Kuti, Fela’s son, hit closest to the mark, in an interview, when he calls today a “sad birthday” from his homeland. After listing the suffering of ordinary Nigerians, Kuti said: “We have survived these terrible times.” Out of the survivor’s tales, perhaps can come rebirth: Nigeria version 2.0.
Oct 01 2010
Comments Off on Nigeria’s bittersweet birthday