THE NIGERIA OF MY DREAMS





Imagine a country that has beautiful, nice, green trees all around. You can breathe in the fresh air without a doubt. The roads are as clear as glass, as the wind whistles through the window of your car. Pedestrians cross the road safely; using the zebra crossing, instead of running across the roads with the great possibility of being crushed. The bright colours of the traffic lights are placed strategically, telling each and every driver to either stop, get ready or go. Traffic is barely seen on our roads and the vehicles are intact and safe for use, instead of the old raggedy, broken-down buses that remind you of a dump. Children walk to school safely and gleefully, or ride bikes on pavements as smooth as floor tiles. If only my Nigeria could be like this...
My name is Tejumola, meaning 'one who looks forward to better days. ' I was born on October 1st - Nigeria’s independence day. My mother named me that to keep her hopes and dreams of a better Nigeria alive and she encourages me to do the same. She tells me stories of how in her days, traders could leave their goods on a table with stones to show the cost of the items, and would come back late at night to find their money on the table and count it. Sure enough, the money was always complete. This means that the towns were free of crime, without the fear of being robbed of your hard earned money. Oh! The Nigeria I wish I met.
I remember mummy’s story of her first day at school, after the whole family moved to the United Kingdom because grandma had to take on a new nursing job. Her older sister, Aunty Jaiyesimi, walked her to school. She held her hand, swinging it in the air while they both sang joyfully. At the zebra crossing, they would wait for about 10 seconds till the pedestrian light turned green for them to go. They skipped across the patterned lines to the opposite side of the road, without having to run across for fear of getting knocked over. It was so encouraging to know that Aunty Jaiyesimi and mum would go to school unsupervised and return home safely, with no fears of getting kidnapped. I wish my Nigeria could be like this.
At age 9, my classmate’s father passed on after a tragic road accident. He was rushed to the hospital, but wasn’t attended to early enough because his family had to run around gathering funds to pay the hospital bills in advance, without which, the hospital wasn’t going to start any treatment. What a tragedy it was for Chidinma and her family as their dad passed away, unattended. Had the doctors treated him without insisting on payment first, Chidinma in my school, would still have her dad. The Nigeria of my dreams will value human life over money.
Speaking of schools, most of my friends and family who live in the United Kingdom, America or Canada, attend public schools for free and yet the standards are higher than our very expensive private schools here in Nigeria. The image of our public schools are; kids dressed in raggedy uniforms with no shoes, not enough tables and chairs to sit and write on, leaking roofs, smelly toilets and yet unaffordable for the poor. How sad!!!
People are suffering, hungry, homeless and helpless- this breaks my heart. The Nigeria I see now reminds me of the story of a photographer, Kevin Carter. He committed suicide, after taking the photo of a vulture, waiting for a starved African child to die so it could eat him, that is exactly the same way our government watch while its people die.
Names, they say, are very powerful. So like my name, Tejumola, and like my mother’s hopes and dreams for Nigeria, I look forward to better days and pray that the good Nigeria of the past, the quality of life in developed countries and my imaginations of a new and better Nigeria, come together to form ‘The Nigeria of My Dreams’.                                                                                                                    


Karina Durojaiye
   11 Years Old

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