BURNING POT BY DR. PRINCE CHARLES DICKSON
Nigeria 2023: Las las everybody go eat breakfast
By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
You go bow for the result oh
Nothing to discuss oh
'Cause I dey win by default
And without any doubt oh
Omo, me, I be adult oh
My feelings been dey swing like jangolova
Feelings been dey swing like jangolova
E don cast (e don cast)
Last last (last last)
Na everybody go chop breakfast (na everybody go chop breakfast)
As the music blasted in the background, I recall the first time I really took the artiste Burna Boy seriously, was when I was at the poolside, in a trip to Kigali, Rwanda, I reeled in pride as at least despite all the giant strides of the once genocide torn nation, there was one a many thing to be proud about as his song was being played.
Maybe, las las Nigeria go dey okay—I really do not know, but I remain a cautious optimist about the Nigerian project. Well, at the beginning of the year, I had promised that for 12 months, In Shaa Allah, I will once a month X-ray the issues around the forthcoming General Elections in the world’s largest black population and sufacracy. This is number eight, and four more to go.
Meanwhile, a friend and I were texting about how our mornings had not started well. She had lost her keys and subsequently missed both a dentist appointment and a work meeting. I had placed an important form in a “safe place” and then could not remember where I put it. The longer my friend and I kept looking for these items, the more flustered and upset we became.
As time dragged on, my friend’s worries grew. What if she did not find her keys? Had she thrown them away by accident? Getting a replacement key fob is not easy nor cheap. My concerns mounted as well. While requesting a new form would not set me back in money, it sure would set me back in time. I just knew I would have to call customer service and be passed from person to person to request what was needed. I dreaded the hassle it would be. Instead of stopping a moment to collect the proper perspective—and most importantly, pray about it—we both swirled through our homes like raging storms.
We are all noisy about 2023, Ahead of Nigeria, Rwanda has since become the first African country to manufacture smartphones. Manufactured totally in-house, no diesel wahala, no power shortages and all the political hullabaloo
For my giant of Africa, as we scavenge in dark for leadership direction, the tiny East African nation, placed a de-facto ban to stop the importation of large quantities of cheap used clothing, mostly from the US and the UK, which were stifling the growth of their nascent garment industries Domestic demand for locally made clothes was being suffocated by cheap, second-hand clothes and they took a tough decision. While my country closed borders for years that were already open from day-one of the closure. Our textile industries died despite billions of rehabilitation funds that have since disappeared into private pockets.
Kigali is one of the cleanest and healthiest cities in Africa. Nigeria has Port Harcourt and Benin as number 2 and 8 in the World's most polluted cities, Abuja and Oshogbo make the list of top 30. We are simply dirty in many facets of life. Our public life does not seem to want a cleaning despite the best of efforts towards 2023, but we continue to limp and search for nationhood, hopefully we will find the missing items of statehood, las las Nigerians will eat breakfast (sic).
Rwanda built its first (extremely modest) cube-satellite (RwaSat-1) back in November 2019. It was carried from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center up to the International Space Station and deployed from the Space Station, while with UK based OneWeb Rwanda launched first-ever satellite to connect remote schools to the internet. We were battling IPOB and Google, banning twitter and fighting disinformation hurled at us by us!
These are just little scratches of development, and we are still as a people battling ethnic parapoism, backward nepotism, elite mediocre favouritism, gross infrastructural deficiency across all sectors. The next president not only has his work cut out but practically is inheriting a failed contraption, such that the few successes of what Nigeria is, has been blacked by overwhelming lows.
Nigeria is not hell, but she is not far from hell, but in context Rwanda is not heaven either. Let me put it in this manner, as far as the economic and social realities of its people are concerned, Rwanda has changed significantly over the past 20 years. Yet the country continues to be challenged by poverty, health, and environmental issues. In 2017, the Human Development Index ranked Rwanda 159th out of 188 countries, with an average life expectancy at birth of 64.7 years.
Rates of chronic malnutrition remain stubbornly high, especially in rural areas, communicable diseases continue to be widespread, especially malaria, acute respiratory infections, and illnesses related to water, hygiene and sanitation.
These problems are representative of issues like poverty and illiteracy. The vulnerability of the Rwanda population is linked to a number of interrelated factors, such as the high population density leading to insufficient land for farming.
In support of the national programme to eradicate poverty, the Rwanda Red Cross has adopted the “Agasozi Ndatwa” (Model Village) approach since 2008.
Each Model Village is selected according to where the most vulnerable populations are located. Actions in the Model Village are supposed to be simple and replicable, so that in time, other villages can reproduce and benefit from proven best practices.
Essential to the Model Village approach is the fact that solutions are devised by and for the community in question. Local people are involved from the start, supported by Rwanda Red Cross volunteers to assess their community’s strengths and weaknesses, and define their own needs and priorities. Informed by a national classification, the community collectively selects the families that are most in need of receiving specific support.
The aim is to improve living conditions for the most vulnerable individuals, and in so doing increase the whole community’s resilience. Community members take responsibility for the areas of action that have been defined, also participating in the monitoring and assessment of developments.
The project involves interventions in various sectors at the same time, from water, hygiene and sanitation, to nutrition, disaster management, and livelihoods. For instance, an activity with widespread impact involves the organization of women into co-operatives that manufacture charcoal briquettes using organic waste, and sell them to other villagers. This enables the women to earn a living, and generates economic activity in the wider community. As an alternative to using wood, the charcoal briquettes are more affordable for families. Furthermore, they are instrumental in reducing the deforestation that leads to soil erosion and landslides, damaging housing and cultivated lands.
The context here is hope, which is a scarce commodity for us in Nigeria, at the local level, leadership is absent, at the state level no one is willing to take responsibility, whether it is top to bottom or the reverse we are stuck on our primordialisms, journeying to the 2023 General Elections.
Thankfully, I am happy to report that we both found our missing items. My friend’s keys were in a closet on the top shelf. She had looked in that closet but in a raincoat pocket. She never thought to look up at the shelf. I had misfiled my form, and in my agitation and haste, must have flipped right on past it while looking. I was relieved but not proud at how easily I lost my cool. And if I am honest, this is not an isolated case. How many times have I let minor inconveniences and agitations rob me of my peace? Yes, today we misplaced important items. Tomorrow there may be traffic. We may spill something the next day and make a huge sticky mess. Sometimes, our peace is jeopardized not by something that happens but by worries and negative thoughts, but if we are calm, las las we all go chop breakfast, is Nigeria on that track—Only time will tell.