Email from Amara via Bisi Silva (Nigerian Artist and Curator at Contemporary Centre for Art, Lagos) and written by Qudus Onikeku, who reflects on the current situation in Nigeria. The BBC magazine "Africa" also had an article recently on Nigeria being close to a failed state! I also remember the term used jokingly for the Kenyan light company which was "Power and Darkness", but in comparison it was nothing like I experienced in Nigeria!
"In the past few years, I no longer consider myself as a Nigerian living in Nigeria, nor living in the diaspora, and at the same time, I am a Nigerian living in both Nigeria and in the diaspora. During my subsequent visit and mind travel to Nigeria, I have constantly engaged my friends in discussions and carefully painted an image of an existing middle class at which many living abroad cannot imagine, a middle class drifting on a roller skate much more expensive than most living on a similar middle class in the diaspora. How then do we determine who drifts on this roller skate, without going too deep into a survey, lets just state some basic signs of who belong to an existing middle class in a city like Lagos. As a bachelor or a spinster, if you load your phone (whatever phone) with at least 500 naira recharge card a day, but not just that, if you have a "normal car" constantly wound up and you are able to fuel it before it get close to the E sign, your regular monthly subscription includes a cable tv, an internet connection (minimum of 9pm to 9am) and able to stock food stuffs in your cupboard, no matter where you live - As a family man, you have the above responsibilities plus your kids attending a relatively average private school where they could afford to teach them computer studies, French language and some extra curricular activities like drama, dance and music. Then you belong to a middle class and above.
However, in the midst of all these class formation, in the midst of everything that separate the men from the boys. Our queue and bid for the best electrical power generators, hunt for diesel and fuel every night and the hope for an regular power supply has brought us all together as helpless masses. It no longer matters weather you are rich or poor, we've all began to get used to our sufferings in disguise, we struggle to pay for overpriced cable TV, internet and we complain of how expensive they are, but we realise that further shit happens when we are unable to watch our cable TV or charge our laptop, because PHCN (power holding company of NIGERIA) holds electricity to show how powerful they are. Now all Nigerians opt for a way out. Yes a powerful electrical power generator, what PHCN can do, a generator can do better. This philosophy has been the mother of our continuous torture in Nigeria, we forget that using generator to charge laptops is as good as digging a grave for the life span of our highly over priced laptops. Each time I take my Macbook Pro to Nigeria, I pay the price of loosing my charger pack which costs 90€ at each return to europe where I'm sure of getting something original again, then I realise that darkness in Nigeria is not the absence of light, but the presence of corruption.
Its GOLD and DIAMOND to be a Nigerian nowadays. This is what informed a group of very well meaning and determined young Nigerians to stand up to change bad habits. We call the insurgence "Light Up Nigeria" with a slogan ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I discovered the cause on facebook and the mini manifesto goes thus "Please support the cause and join the revolution. Together we can make a difference. Perhaps, the most common question heard is “Why an online revolution?” An online revolution such as this is the safest, cheapest and most collaborative form of protest we can all engage in. While our voice is online, we are creating greater awareness to the issue at hand and given the small world phenomenon, we know our cries and protests will get to the right people. We need the likes of TV stations such as CNN, BBC, AIT and radio stations to know and broadcast details about this revolution. Once we are successful at this, we can commence with a street movement as need be. At this point, it is worth nothing that Nigeria can’t be lit up in a day but with great minds thinking and working together with the support of the higher authorities and available funding, we will see the outcome of our movement. So join the revolution and tell your friends, family, enemies and random people on the street to LIGHT UP NIGERIA. Enough is Enough!! Join the movement on twitter: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=lightupnigeria. Join the facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=104082514556"