You tell me that if I speak I will not be heard. No. I will speak and I will be heard. I am not a writer only by talent. I am a writer because I want to be a witness, a real witness.
You recall Edward Said, “There was something wrong with how I was invented.” Yes, you do. So you understand that I have been out of place for too long. Yet, I am taking the chances of return. When I was invented I was told I was less because I am Nigerian, that I did not have certain opportunities. I will not go to a good school. I will live with the fact of darkness, without electricity. Etc etc. Now I am reinventing my own dialogue, I am taking apart my absence-and-hole-shaped existence. I am filling up the blank spaces. I am writing my story, my essence, my self.
I am a young Nigerian. “Out of Africa always comes something new,” some ancient Roman historian is supposed to have said. Because I am young I am burdened by the New. I know of the past injustices, the failed sunsets. I know of being labelled, being called a money-monger because I am Ibo, a fraudster because I am Nigerian, futureless because I am African. Yet, I am willing to look to the New, I am willing to constructively forget, to walk through the past and leave the past in the past. I am willing to argue into being this newness I speak about. Because being Nigerian is being New.
Don’t think of me as a Facebook protester. I am not. I have gone past updating my status, commenting, posting notes, for the transient reason of being counted amongst a number. I feel embarrassed that you think of me as a young man seeking fame. I am wary of that word. I am wary of being ‘liked’ by a myriad of people who know nothing of my motivations, my aches, my processes. Instead I am conscious that each Facebook activity or blog post contributes to the historical statements I am making. I will not seek cheap fame. I will contribute to real change.
Which is why I will write and write until my hand is blistered and sore. I will write of the Nigeria I am seeing, of the deconstruction of labels. Of possibilities, of equality, of a new youth. I will write of the shaming of the prodigal fathers, whose failure has been that they forget too easily, too quickly, that no injustice will outmanoeuvre human resilience, or collective will.
And I am not alone. Look over there, right behind you, by your side, everywhere, the hashtags are ubiquitous. It will fill your head as though multimillion voices are speaking the same words, repeatedly. But I do not want those voices to choke you to death — you will see with your eyes the newness I speak about.
I forgive easily, know this. I am not one to wish for your death, to speak without facts. I will not unfriend you on Facebook, or call for your assassination, or even call you names. How different, then, will I be from you? I am not like you, I am not. I mean it when I say I love peace. I mean it when I say I have not seen a bomb.
The revolution has begun. I am part of it. Do not be fooled that it begins and ends with placards, strikes, Twitter hashtags. I am certainly wiser than that. Yes, I will keep hashtagging, placarding, striking, until I am convinced that I have been destereotyped. Until I am convinced that I am not a matterless blur in the narrative of my country.