Praise & Mide.
Three years ago, Nigerian youths protested, fed up with the current harassment from a brutal police sub-division called “SARS”. SARS, like the viral respiratory disease family that extends beyond covid, was beyond high-handed policemen profiling and killing young men sporadically. SARS for us encompassed everything 21st century Nigerian — corruption, poor healthcare, insecurity & economic hardship. The protest against SARS evolved into a tragedy forever etched in our collective memories and history. Three years later, we have been through even more distasteful murky waters as a country and still stand tall. However, at what cost do we stand tall? These are the questions we seek to answer in this post.
Since the tragedy on this auspicious day, the average Nigerian have seen different things follow. Pseudo-justice was administered afterwards, and we could only watch in Marvel. The millennial and gen-z Nigerian has always been scorned for its political apathy. Ironically, and in a move that is deserving of a gold medal at the hypocrisy Olympics, the government introduced “civic education” into the school curriculum — and even the subject seemed to white-wash history and tell it in a politicised light. Young and progressive Nigerians then saw social media as an outlet to criticise bad leadership. Even that wasn’t enough.
“Change never happens on Twitter” — was the slogan of disconnected and dismissive politicians. Following the discontent from the brutal killing of young people my state armed forces, young people went beyond Twitter where “change never happens”. The result was a protest against SARS that started in early October 2020 and was brutally squashed when military officers shot into the crowd at unarmed protesters. The sad story does not end here.
“Go to the polls” — they said. Young people took to the polls in what should naturally be the most overwhelming voter turnout of young people in the colonial left-over that is Nigeria. The rest of the story is fit for the history book of shame. There were reports of mass voter intimidation, tribal profiling, snatched ballot boxes, irregularities and of course — a winner whose emergence is somewhat questionable.
“Go to the court” — they also said. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, young Nigerians ended up with a classic story of “you go explain tire — evidence no dey”
Now, we live in a country where the exchange rate is rising like Agege Bread, and the cost of living is shifting living standards for the otherwise comfortable. Despite the rise in prices of plane tickets, we still see our people leaving the country in swarms. Companies set to solve problems are packing up due to circumstances beyond their control. Every entrepreneur is consistently in a dogfight between increasing prices and staying afloat — indeed, only the strong stand a chance.
However, while things may seem gloomy, we must fight for the light that would brighten our dark tunnel, or at least we strive to be that light. Despite these seemingly dark times, our people shine against all odds. We see these same youths consistently fighting to solve these problems that besiege their lives. We see Nigerian startups raising funds to solve social problems. We see companies grow beyond the odds, and Nigerians innovators becoming pioneers in uncharted tech waters.
Do we still have a long way to go? Yes. Is it possible that things may get worse? Yes. The exchange rate is an eye sore, and a constant joke. However, we stand a chance because we strive to thrive beyond the odds. Where there is hope, immeasurable possibilities abound. 20–10–20 is a day that brought us to tears as a country. However, as we evolve, we hold out hope and simultaneously strive to make things work. It’s been a symbol for all us and the closest taste to independence that we have had. It’s the identity for a new Nigeria if one ever emerges. The safe space community is a product of this history, and we are incredibly grateful for how far we have grown.
As always, we are rooting for every young person standing up to oppression in every way — in the workplace, in a toxic relationship and against the forces of economic exploitation. You got this!
Love and Light, always!