Three thousand miles and several months later, i find myself home again. Funny enough, though barely two years have passed since i left these shores yet it feels more like a rediscovery of something lost (or the requisition of a thing once discarded). Everything is different, and, both simultaneously and ironically, everything is exactly the same. The joy of being reunited with family is tempered with the unforgiving contrast between the experience of what was home for over two and a half decades and the quiet and serene balance I had come to accept and embrace in my sojourn in the land of mountains and shores. The sprawling metropolis that is Lagos, teeming with humanity, absent-mindedly going about their business. The sky is suddenly ugly and gray, everything seems dusty and, when night falls, the unforgiving darkness and the bloodsuckers that hide within it.
Before long, I find myself regressing to the state of quiet, surly discontent in which I have, in my perspective, ambled along for most of my experience in this setting. The compromise I have managed to achieve, my most familiar method of coping with the daily contradictions of life on the continent.
My responsibilities do not afford me the time to reflect on my state of mind, on the disquiet stirring up once again somewhere deep within me and, in typical fashion, I am swept up in the flow of life in urban Nigeria once more. The days blur into one gray dull continuum with soul-numbing lectures occasionally punctuated by reunions with old friends and colleagues. Before long, I find myself fluctuating between bouts of despair and resentment at what I perceived to be my predicament (particularly the overwhelming sense that something was wrong with virtually everything) and the frustrating acceptance of the situation that the people around me had come to develop;an almost militant reluctance to even accept the existence of a state of anomy in some cases or the possibility of change in others. Before long, I found myself subconsciously expressing resistance to the not-so-new state of affairs by quietly and subtly disconnecting from everything. My nonchalance a tacit protest to what I perceive as my yielding to the gradual but relentless drift of events in a general direction that I do not necessarily agree with but can not seem to extricate myself from.
Time and again I contemplate writing something, but nothing seems to stir behind these eyes.
Then, suddenly, a package arrives in the mail, a collection of books ordered months ago and sent by a benevolent friend and mentor. In my hour of need i was afforded much-needed respite. out of this treasure-trove, I picked out Life’s Operating Manual (the fear and truth dialogues by Tom Shadyac) and rediscover what i already knew, remember what i had been ignoring. its message re-kindled a spark that has left me with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.
The world might indeed be broken, and it might be our collective responsibility to fix it, but the first step down that path is to discover who we are. To, in our own way, find within ourselves our true identity and harness this as a tool to remake this world into what it ought to be. Every society has it challenges, indeed all societies are but a small piece of a mosaic and each individual contributes to constitute whichever society he happens to be a part of. Thus, armed with a deep knowledge of our true identity and purpose, we can affect people, either one at a time or in larger numbers and ultimately, effect a change in our society. Like Prometheus’ gift, this will spread and, eventually the whole world would be alight with the fire of change; positive change.
Perhaps it’s a pipe-dream, but sometimes, all it takes is a dream, and the resolve to make it bear fruit.