As Sir James Robertson stood out as the last British Governor-General of Nigeria, elaborate prepararions were made to usher in Independence. It was to set a new history in the minds of the Nationalists as well as the large crowd at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos. October 1st, 1960 would thus be the first day a jubilant crowd of cultured dancers, students, business moguls, acrobats, etc would begin to bear proudly the mark of citizenship. It was also the celebration of Nationhood! But we should be curious to know what Independence is and how it is celebrated outside Nigeria (especially the United States).
”Independence is a condition of a nation , country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government , and usually sovereignty , over the territory” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence). Describing what the celebration of Independence ought to be, one is reminded that “Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues , carnivals , fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games , family reunions , and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the” people. In the United States, this day is also known as the National Day and is also a national holiday marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors.
Independence Day is a federal holiday, so all non-essential federal institutions (such as the postal service and federal courts) are closed on that day. Many politicians make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the nation’s heritage, laws, history, society, and people.
Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue; many take advantage of the day off and, in some years, a long weekend to gather with relatives or friends. Decorations ( e.g. , streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag . Parades are often held in the morning, before family get-togethers, while fireworks displays occur in the evening after dark at such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares (cf. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_(United_States).
Yet, today, Nigeria, still in her nostalgia, replays in almost every town square and stadium, that singular jubilation which has gone through 57 years of ‘stagnancy’ characterised by match past and speeches – not from Sir Abubakar Tafawa, the first Prime Minister of Nigeria, but from any elected or appointed Nigerian, worthy enough to speak English or to handle the microphone.
Hence, from the first Republic in 1963, through the valleys of a bloody coup d’ état, piercing through a separatist movement in 1967 to the fourth Republic in 1999, today’s Nigeria, through surreptitious means, still seek unity and stability through the agreement of “army leaders and contending tribal elements…” (cf. CIA Intelligence Memorandum, Oct, 1966; en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/history-of-Nigeria/ Assessed Sept. 30th 2017).
Our kids would have to spend the entire day matching and being reminded that their country is a ‘tough’ country and they must get to obey the ‘General.’ On the other hand, we must not be hitherto ignorant of how rich those historical “drills,” or matching,” is to the/a soldier. With common parade commands like, “fall in,” “fall out,” and “attention,” as well as the Four Directions in a military parade, it is the case that “one’s flexibility and initiative is destroyed in exchange for predictability and cohesion” (cf. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_parade).
One ought then to be increasingly worried at how this obsolete tradition of making our children and parents, in the name of Independence day, match in respect to a Declaration of freedom by yet destroying it.
At this point, may I import into this article, the clever words of Dr. Mrs Beatrice Ubeku (Focal person of the West Africa Women Association, an ECOWAS affiliate: cf. Wale Odunsi, May 17, 2016/dailypost.ng/children’s-day-enough-of-parade/ assessed Sept. 30th 2017) by asserting that our government should “go past boring parades and salutations” during the celebration of our country’s birth.” Re-echoing those first splendid words, we should be reminded that, “this great country, which has now emerged without bitterness or bloodshed, finds that she must at once, be ready to deal with grave International issues….” Sir Tafawa Balawa cited by Clifford Ndujihe in www.vanguardngr.com/2017/09/October-1-1960).
Let’s rethink and replace this ridiculous tradition of parades, political speeches and processions with speaking about the strength of our country, holding in our hands, a bottle of wine for family’s sake as well as listen to our history as a Country for future’s sake!
Author: David Francis E.