Hey, Are You Okay?
After the grim year we have just had, I wanted to reach out to ask; are you okay? We all started 2020 with high hopes, and then the world changed – a pandemic came.
Across the regions, people struggled with loss, poor health, hunger, unemployment, relationship challenges and restricted freedom. Many of us even lacked the means to look after ourselves and our families.
Between social distancing, handwashing, mask-wearing and police checkpoints, we also received nuggets of blessings – few of you got married, started new relationships and jobs, and even welcomed new lives unto your families. As with all human crisis, few people even benefited from Covid-19 Contracts and governments’ handouts.
It was a time when the rich, the poor and the powerful became equals. Nobody was exempted from the infection and fear. We all feared equally and remain confused alike.
As we have noticed, the world is still spinning with possibilities and yet, filled with unprecedented sufferings, and uncertainties. More so in Nigeria where insecurity, poverty, unemployment, diseases, terrorism, corrupt practices, banditry and lack of leadership have become a way of life. The Covid-19 pandemic and the #EndSARS protests merely added salt to our open wounds.
So, 2020 was miserable in so many ways; emotionally, mentally, physically and financially – people experienced them and was equally exhausted on all accounts. But, we are still here.
Yet, despite these overwhelming issues, many people still found time to volunteer and help others in various capacity. In the midst of the pandemic, many of our Citizens First Community Organisers membership were out in Abuja and Owerri distributing the little Covid-19 palliatives we were able to provide. Personally, I could not thank them enough; someday, their stories would be heard.
Within these shared frustrations and disappointments, many of us stopped believing our country is salvageable. There is no shame in admitting it. We have every right to lose faith in either a government or system that is fundamentally flawed and incompetent, which also derives pleasure in extinguishing the dreams and aspirations of the people.
Suffice to mention, Nigeria remains one of the few nations on earth that is structurally designed to encourage corruption and division - a country that destroys its potentials and that of her citizens.
The challenges we faced now and in the foreseeable future include, how our people reconcile with a country and leadership that had forgotten its purpose and responsibilities to provide and protect. As community organisers, how do we manage people’s expectations and social reality over putting food on the table?
Community organising in Africa requires optimism. Therefore, we must-see and ‘explain the world in such a way as to give cause for hope – hope that the Creator is good, that he has created a good world, and that if we could transcend the limitations of our humanity we should see that it is good.’ Voltaire (Candide).
As optimists, we remain positive and still want the best for our country, communities, neighbours, families and ourselves, a vision of a better future. Hence, we have chosen a path that leads to solutions instead of contributors to the problems, whilst facilitating social change and empowerment.
As we look forward to 2021 and beyond, we must remind our people and communities that leaders who are unable to lead and solve social, economic, political problems are liabilities to any society. That, we can no longer afford to continue recycling the same rubbish and expect a different outcome.
There is nothing better than to share these thoughts, and to remind you of the challenges ahead in Nigeria and Africa. Let us start 2021 with great hope and expectations, believing that the future can be better. We must believe.
Meanwhile, the Coronavirus is still here with us. Please continue to follow all the experts’ medical and scientific guidelines. I hope to see more of you in the coming months, as we continue in our quest to train thousands of community organisers in Nigeria and Africa. I wish you a happier and better days ahead. Have wonderful 2021.
May God Continue to Protect And Bless You, And Your Loved Ones. Stay safe.
Christian Ikezuagu Ihejirika
@citizensfirstfoundation © 2021