Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the historic Washington March where Martin Luther King delivered his celebrated speech, “I have a dream.” Martin, a simple man who made gigantic strides not with so much fuss but with a consistency of witnessing, changed the whole world with a consistent following of his dream for a better, more dignifying society. His voice, silenced by the brutal bullet of the assassin on that fateful April 4, 1968 continues to roar on all political rooftops of the world and for ages.
Though silenced at a very green age of 39, He had achieved so much than millions who lived double that age. We honour you today King. Though his noble cause is far from being totally won, he has indeed won big. Thank you for your voice of peace, courage and dedication. Thank you for the example you have set for many young ones today. Thank you because the fruition of that dedication calls us to action always, much more today.
Obviously problems and unpleasant situations will continue to abound in our world. Men and women of vision and courage will always be needed to respond to them. With the unprecedented misrule, violence and state of human indignity rearing their heads all over our world (Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, Syria, Zimbabwe, mention them) our planet needs such people like King more than ever. It appears out of category to find Nigeria in this list of countries but trust me, our state of peace is a phantom. Such an occurrence as Boko Haram for instance is merely a telling sign of what could become of over a 100 million youths in search of a dignifying life: they could be misdirected and misused for any cause.
By all means, a country like Nigeria is immensely blessed, both in human and natural resources much more than several so-called developed countries. Yet she has been plagued by misrule, incompetence, greed and general mediocrity for decades. Today we are still dealing with power inconsistency (that is to use an euphemism), semi-standard educational infrastructures (whereas education is the first concern of a country that has a future), political mediocrity (for instance talking about zoning of positions in a NATION, thus ending up with incompetent hands while capable people are sidelined), gaining of power through violent wielding of maces and new arithmetic( as in the case of Rivers State and the 19 versus 16 votes phenomenon – a calculation purportedly and publicly hailed by the Presidency by the way). There is no gainsaying we are so far from where we should be.
Such voices as King’s, which have set a pace for many civilizations and have called for responsible governance, are still somewhat faint in our nation. Considering the populous statistics of Nigeria, those voices are indeed still very faint. The supposed 140 million population of Nigeria is composed of an 82% youths (116 million, going by the 2006 Census report). Are these millions of voices gagged, silent, not proactive enough or simply do not know the difference? One would seem to be the case anyway. And none of these is an acceptable option for a truly human person.
People that are living and conscious cannot just take things in their strides as they have always been taken. There must be a ‘ticking’ within us calling us to a remembrance of such a voice and vision of men like Martin Luther King Jr. It is not merely wanting to be different, it is wanting to be human. And to be human is to be aware of our right to a dignifying existence.
Let those voices be loud all over the world. May they be found amongst the 116 million vibrant youths of Nigeria.
Thank you for your voice and example, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Adieu!