1st October, 1999. INDEPENDENCE DAY
As a child this was the day I always looked forward to, and why? Not like I knew particularly what was going on but it was a holiday, a day that I do not go to school. That day unlike every other public holidays, after having done my house chores, I sit in front of the television watching a group of people at the national stadium waving green white green flags , celebrating what in my inquisition my mum told me was a party to celebrate Nigeria’s birthday. “Why was I not included ?”, I would ask feeling that since it was Nigeria’s birthday, we all should be there to have a share of that big green and white coloured cake, which always caught my eyes because of my fondness for cake. Thereafter I would watch, man after man coming to the stage with the microphone to give some speech which sounded then like Greek to me.
I can remember that after that they were always cheered and clapped for but what struck me most was their big, protruding tummies, which signified that they were well fed and made me wish my father was one of them. Sometimes, I would imagine father in a flowing agbada similar to the ones I see those men on TV wear, giving his own speech and bringing home his own chunk of the cake for the family to feast on. But father never did, he was a mere driver to Isioma’s father, whose father always brought home independence cake for her. I followed father to Isioma’s house on one of those occasions, I remembered Isioma giving me the green and white icing telling me it was the sweeter part and would be better enjoyed than what she called the brown chaff, the part which she ate. I took it, feeling lucky that I was finally having my own share of independence cake, oblivious of the trick which had been played on me.
1st October, 2010. “Independence day”
Now I am grown, reality has set in and I understand. I no longer look forward to that special day because I am disillusioned. I have come to understand that the cake I used to see televised was a symbol of the so much talked about “national cake”, which many scramble for but only a selected few have a share of it. Fifty years on, all I see is poverty, sick people, unemployed youths amongst other ills. Situations don’t even seem to be abating. They say a Goodluck is on the throne and things would get better. I try to be optimistic but most times as a form of escapism, I go back to my childhood reverie. Only that this time is not father I see but me. This dream of mine would be realized someday, I know, YES! someday.