The month of March has been a difficult one for many people. The number of deaths recorded from a tragic combination of natural disasters, negligence and terrorism is enough to leave anyone in a disconcerting loop of light-headedness and despondency. Every day, there seems to be some terrible news; something that makes one shudder and wonder what to expect next. These unfortunate events have occurred amidst the challenges Nigerians have to surmount on a regular basis.
Our problems are unique even among third world countries.
For instance, if like me, you live in Lagos and hold a nine to five job, your first challenge is getting one over on the ubiquitous traffic gridlock to get to your workplace in good time. If you’re unlucky to work in a place where you are constantly demeaned and underrated, it means you have to endure lousy treatment for eight hours every day and 40 hours every week. And your agony is far from over; after another tortuous commute home wrestling for lane occupation with devil-may-care commercial bus drivers and other crazy motorists, you arrive home to darkness.
PHCN has struck. The heat is unbearable. If you have any fuel left in your generator, you drag your spent self to it and spend the next couple of minutes pulling the recoil starter to protesting grunts from the overworked machine. For some reason, your wife is cranky—she’s also had a long day at work—and to her consternation, an attempt to purchase the usual groceries she gets weekly was met with resistance because the prices have been .reviewed upward.
This is just a snippet of what life looks like for the archetypal citizen of the most populous black nation.
It’s the reason I am unshakeable in my belief that the greatest attribute a Nigerian can possess is resilience. The ability to go on regardless of what life throws at you. You see, Nigeria is a country that aims to gobsmack all the time. The things that are unfathomable in other climes are regular occurrences here, and so we require extra doses of doggedness and determination to go on in spite of our peculiar challenges.
It’s hard, incredibly so; especially at a time when tragic news has become the order of the day. From collapsed buildings to Boko Haram killings to election violence, the spate of ugly incidents is petrifying—this is coupled with the faint hope that continues to dwindle for the average person—because his economic circumstances are not improving.
Little wonder the ones who cannot take it anymore are getting on the next available flight to Canada.
In case you live in a bubble and haven’t noticed, many are only just holding onto hope.
People are broke
People are losing loved ones
People are disheartened
People are looking to flee Nigeria. And anywhere will do.
The art of surviving Nigeria is something that should be taught in schools. If you have chosen to stick it out with Nigeria then you must grow a rare kind of grit that ensures you aren’t fazed by most things. You may pray, you may surround yourself with supportive family and friends, you may work hard and be passionate about your vocation, but what you need the most is that four letter word. G.R.I.T.
You need uncommon strength and resolve to rise above the darts Nigeria throws at you. Nothing else will do.
How do you achieve this?
Practice becoming inured to bad news
It may sound cold, but if you are looking to fight to win in this geographical space, then you must develop rare courage. When you receive the news of yet another tanker explosion or terrorist bombing, you must say a prayer for the souls of the departed and then move on.
You cannot afford to be too emotional or melodramatic every time something negative happens, you won’t last that way.
Lest I forget, you need the same mettle to surmount situations like unemployment, childlessness, singlehood or divorce.
You see, apart from the insecurity and economic issues in the land, statuses such as the ones mentioned above are considered huge problems in the Nigerian society. If you were job hunting in the Western world, for instance, you’d most likely be placed on some sort of stipend until you are able to secure employment. The reality is different over here; you are left with no other choice than to comb the streets until providence intervenes.
As for being childless, unmarried at a certain age or divorced, you may find yourself being ostracized because, well, you aren’t exactly “normal”. Our tradition frowns at such and you are either coerced to the point where you kowtow to popular expectations and seek ways to reverse the situation or accept that you are a disgrace and lead an apologetic life.
To survive Nigeria, you must develop the uncanny ability to give a middle finger to the crowd and do you.
Being a Nigerian who lives and thrives in Nigeria is an art; it’s not for the faint-hearted and the one who will retain his sanity must master this art.