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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Monday, May 28, 2007

HEROES ALL

As the swearing in day approaches, my mind is in frenzied thought as to possibilities, realities and potential catalysts, allow me to sound insane and leave that unexplained. Last week, l sat in the lemon in the daily murderous chaos that is the result of the utterly mad idea to calve out bus lanes and bus stops out of the unlit, unsafe, potholed, too-narrow for the volume of traffic Ikorodu road. As always there was traffic, mayhem and confusion galore as we meandered our way down the road, l am engaged in my usual escapist pastime, reading. I was reading the latest WIRED and TIME magazine special on the most influential people in the world. Surrounded as l was by the effects of allowing the least able to be so influential, the stories took on an even deeper meaning. The trick of absorption even as you take your mind to other plains is a childhood survival skill, many a hot afternoon in molues were eased by an ever-present book. So it was that l was reading about heroes and villains but mostly heroes the people who have changed and are changing the way the world is, men and women of different race and cultures, mostly admittedly Caucasians. They included politicians, thinkers, innovators, scientists, artists and activists. One was the story of a lowly black construction worker in New York who jumped on a train track as the train approached the station to save a passenger who had had a seizure and fallen unto the tracks. The beauty of the story is that he simply saw nothing special about what he had done; to him it was only the right thing to do. The concept of right is a discourse for another day and my encounter with people like these through a TV series l did 12 years ago in Nigeria is yet another story, another day.

As l read the story and others l wondered about the seemly lack of innovation, radical space changing thought, development and sheer heroic actions in our sphere. Are we as a people not brave, innovative and extraordinary? Even as l wondered l was drawn to a higher level of chaos unfolding before us. We had turned off Ikorodu road into a narrow side street and there l saw a sight for sore eyes. A huge truck was snaking down the road, all other vehicles had stopped to let it pass but it couldn’t. The thing is, the truck was too high and could therefore not go through without tearing down the low hanging high-tension electricity cables. Apparently, this was no major challenge for the long-suffering innovative resilient Nigerian mass. I had wondered what the job of the wiry young man in yellow gloves on the truck was, l got my answer. This young man calmly got up, wrapped a dirty old Ankara wrapper around his gloved hands and firmly grabs the cables, about 8 of them and to our utmost amazement began a death defying jiggle of lifting and lowering as the driver moves the truck one inch at a time. With every movement the end of the cables connected to the poles begin to crackle with live electric sparks flying all-round sending the head holding, mouth opened gawkers temporarily scampering for safety. This whole process must have lasted 4 minutes but it felt like a life time as the truck eventually passed through the cable point with the young man deftly dropping his death load, sitting back down on the truck top ready to repeat the feat at any other point on this senseless drive for a meagre salary.

As we drove down the same road, l shut my TIME and WIRED magazine, my mind in deeper conflict on an old intimate subject, one l am convinced is the key to reforming our lives and space. How does one turn the resilience, strength, bravery, innovation and innate intelligence of the real Nigerian into an organized, self realizing, self sustaining life improving force? I suspect the answer is less in Harvard and more in okokomaiko but then l have often been called insane.

14 comments:

Waffarian said...

Funmi, we see heroes everyday, why can't we use it in the right way? in the right place? where our bravery is needed? I truly believe that Nigerians are not aware of their own strength, they do not know what determination can do, even if they see it everyday.The child that walks miles to go to school, the mother that carrys a bucket of water on her head, child on her back.......we do not see it. We see these skills as mere survival skills, thus we do not know what else to do with them except get our daily bread. How can we know? Nobody has taught us.

dayo said...

funmi
i feel you on the ikorodu road issue, i cant understand what those guys are up to, they tried it on third mainland and the traffic almost killed us....now its ikorodu road. one can only pray that people in government will use their brains more instead of allowing everything to boil down to naira and kobo.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it ????

Nigeria Politricks said...

It sounds kinda like a paradox; the New Yorker who jumped on a train to save someone's life; whereas you get hit in the gut with a death defying stunt by a poor Nigerian who wants to lose his life for stipends!
I think your question begs for answer -
How does one turn the resilience, strength, bravery, innovation and innate intelligence of the real Nigerian into an organized, self realizing, self sustaining life improving force?

Nigerians have all these sterling qualities, but the society we live in have reduced us to the last rung of the ladder of degeneracy! Nigerians are merely living; our lives have been mortgaged at the alter of depravity, servitude, mental anguish, moral perversion, societal decadence, etcetera. We need to re-channel our energies, save our nation from an abysmal precipice and begin to reclaim our lives!!

butterfliesandstars said...

Agree with you about ikorodu road - was in traffic there for about two hours last wednesday and i was driving a stick so it wasn't funny.

Can't seem to understand how these our leaders think (i've tried and tried). So much of our money is wasted on big-show constrution and renovation and the bulk of these have a really short life span - we really just need to pray for the change and hope it comes soon!

Nigerians are a strong breed but we have no sense of community - on your own is the motto we all seem to live by. We have all bee conditioned to focus on our own wants, needs and gains above all else. We need to learn to live together, to love and to give...

Naija Sense said...

Where did you get your copy of Wired Magazine? I usually get a copy most times @ siemens but since the renovation of the Roads on the Island my vendor has gone missing.

Naija Sense said...

Where did get your copy of Wired Magazine from? I've missed reading Wired since the Bull dozers of Tinubu comeced working on the roads in Lagos Island.

Tayo said...

Mostly it's a result of a lack of the proper channel to direct the "resilience, strength, bravery, innovation and innate intelligence" into that drives Nigerians into less dignified acts. That's why we have cleverly planned robbery operations, near perfect 419 plans, convincing "swindling" stories and others in that category. Nigerians are smart and intelligent. The mind is always a workshop, but when it's an idle mind, it becomes the devils workshop.

catwalq said...

We are a people of sheep in constant need of shepherding. When the shepherd is found wanting, the sheep are incapable of leading themselves because they are crippled by fear of the "wolves" that will end their existence. So, they conform to the wishes of the herd in the spirit of self preservation, unable to and incapable of straying to seek better pasture elsewhere.
One of the reasons I love blogging is the minds that I come in contact with. In them, I see heroic efforts to hammer home sound messages that will hopefully engender in one the need to persevere in the fight for the right to a dignified life.

Our heroes are constantly beaten down; creativity is scoffed at because for some reason it does not indicate that it can provide a life for you. It then has to be channeled towards the simple survival of complex day-to-day living and never the creation of the spectacular.

tunde on the road said...

Have u heard this funmi Work-chop, dat is wat those energies mean to an average nigerian,so which ever way u see it, i think we just work either negative or positively the aim is to chop.So if the energy dont add uppositively just still know that it is still some people at work.I am sure the likes of alao akala isnt one of them.He has disgraced the office of the governor,can u imagine a governor saying "I want my loyalist in power" (local govt issues).
We will get there

Anonymous said...

'PASSION' THAT IS WAT WE NEED...
A PASSIONATE NIGERIA WILL BE A BEAUTY TO BEHOLD...

Funmi Iyanda said...

@naijasense, my friend Jide who commutes to work in Abuja every week brings it in from NICON TRANSCORP, HILTON NOGA or whaever the latest reincarnation is. Abeg who knows where we fit gerrit in Lagos?

@ all, seriously can we stop this madness on ikorodu road? To start with can we get an objective analysis of the merits or otherwise of the idea and who has an idea of an effective strategy to engage the govenment on this issue? Lets start doing something people.

Tayo said...

Really Funmi, it beats me o! Everytime I pass that Ikorodu road, I try to convince myself that the end shall justify the means and look at the bright side, but again present reality of the hold up that has to be endured by 90% of Lagos drivers who have neither sirens nor police escorts hits me, and I wonder. Also, the government isn't exactly carrying the public along in their thoughts, are they? There's really nothing that can be done now. They've entered an irreversible phase.
About the Magazines, I know some smart people in Lagos were providing subscription services for Time, Wired and the like about 2 years ago. You subscribe and they deliver to you. Can't remember where they are. If I do, I'll let you know.

cleo.kelvin said...

well its not lik we 've got no moral but even the lion wen it meets a stronger animal or were its being suprsed gets quiet or relents dats naija for u well we hav survival instincts and dat was all de guy cud tink of despite de risk thou bad but must survive hey don get m wrong but dats wat our society has turned us to less sence even de past heroes are quiet so wen baby lion refuses to fight is it de cub dat fights.
well hope its going get beta wit tim if we de youths start to be heroes in our own small way a nd effect change forgetting or casting aside our worst fears lik de spartans and fighting for a relentless futur generation its a fight we all must.
cleoterria