Famous Italian poet, Dante Alighieri opened the first part of his famous 14th century Magnum Opus The Divine Comedy with the Italian vernacular “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” which when translated to English roughly reads “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here,” the ominous words were served up as warning and threat. Originally intended as a timely notification to sinners who entered the damnation of hellfire in Dante’s tragicomedy, it is hard not to find common inferences with the plight of Nigerian millennials.
Nigerian youths are in a phase, a vortex that reflects the political, social, economic and cultural condition of the country, the country is in a state of constant flux and this flux has not accepted or assimilated the Nigerian youth, rather it has locked them out of the process, beset by a distant political class, poor bureaucratic processes, an increasingly unstable economy and little or no career paths, it is hard not to give in to the impulse to surrender hope. Go into conversation long enough with a Nigerian millennial and you are most likely going to be harangued with the failings of the nation towards it’s future leaders.
Nigerian youths more often than not want to make a contribution to the Nigerian cause, be it through art, music, public relations or other diverse forms, but gradually disappointments start to mount up, ideas are rejected, cue the accusation of laziness by leaders and gradually a transitory stage of aloofness comes in, this aloofness then leads to a full blown apathy, a casual acceptance and disillusion with all things Nigerian in general and at no time has this apathy been more prevalent than 2018, millennials are world weary, cautious and guarded than at any other time in the nation’s history.
In conversations with Nigerian youths, it is infinitely difficult however not to pick up an undertone of hope, a conscious holding on to a not too distant time when Nigeria is a working functional state for all and involving of its youths, in the midst of this apathy and inspite of it, ambition still rings true.
In the end, this apathy pushes or spurs us to “fight for our head”, get a glimpse of a better future for us and ours and it is at this junction that the other side of the Nigerian millennial’s existence is visible- a defining RESILIENCE, a refusal to throw in the towel, a constant move to better ourselves, push ourselves forwards, it is present in our music, so when Burna Boy laments “I no want kpai, I no want die, I no want kpeme, I want enjoy, I want chop life, I want buy motor, I want build house, I still want turn up” as he does on the aspirational anthem Ye, he is being the mouthpiece of the Nigerian youth and a mirror of their wider struggle.
Away from the apathy is a belief, succinctly put in the words of Barack Obama that “what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart and that if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful things done”, it would seem that the apathy co-exists with resilience, a yin to a yang, living in beautiful imbalanced order.
Resilience in the midst of apathy, hope in the face of hopelessness, perfect way to sum up a Nigerian millennial.
This article was written by Wale Oloworekende; connect with him on IG here