Saturday, September 5, 2009

Obeying the nation's call

I have always sung the national anthem, both the old and the new, with passion. The passion, then, derived most probably from the beats that went with it. Many of us can remember the school assembly lines of old. Yes, those lines - out in the open, columns of neatly dressed pupils in their well starched and ironed uniforms, singing and marching to the beat of the drums.

As I grow older, I sing the new anthem with a lot more passion, a different kind of passion. A passion that derives more from what the words mean to me and what the words were meant to invoke, in the hearts of my fellow citizens, as the nation calls. It is a very simple call that the nation makes daily to us – to Arise and Serve. In these two words, Arise and Serve, we have the embodiment of the whole national anthem. This call is the message of the first three stanzas of the national anthem.

Each time I have the opportunity to drop my kids at school, or stand at a national event, and I hear the wording of the national anthem, my hopes in the greatness of this nation is rekindled. Rekindled in the sense that I simply know that, out there, just out there, are people of like persuasions as I am that listen to the call and are motivated to obey. I love this call and cease not to think of the many others, who have the same persuasions as I do.

Unfortunately, the nation bleeds and she is dying. As it dies, with all her strength, she keeps calling. The calls, not as strong as they once were but now faintly she cries, as her strength wanes – Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey. The nation is dying, not because she had not cried loud enough for help but because many of us simply did hear but really could not understand her. The few that understood and obeyed took advantage of her. While she called for us to serve, she also dictated the kind of service she needed – one to be done with love and strength and faith. Here lies the crux of the failure, for the majority of the few that obeyed; it was a different kind of service they gave – one without love, without strength and without faith.

As I sojourn through time and places, meet with my countrymen from all walks of life, there is just one question that those who cares keep asking – How do we stop the nation from bleeding to death? As with most manners of breakthroughs, the answer had always been right before us but we knew it not. In this case, the answer lies in simply obeying the call. In doing this, we are called to Arise from our slumber and serve. We are called to serve with love for our people and our nation. We are called to serve with all our strength and with an unyielding faith in the greatness and prosperity of our fatherland. If there is anytime, that it is most important to ACT, the time is now. There are consequences for both our action and our inaction. If we act timely, we can stop the bleeding, wrap up and heal the wounds. If we refuse to act, the wound will become mortal, the nation will die and the blood will be on us and on our generations yet unborn. As we obey the call, it is important that we understand the purpose of the call. Our heroes past had spelt these out in the last stanza of the anthem – To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.

As we heed the call, it is important to realize that the work is not easy and that is why we need strength, great strength, to make right all the wrongs that have occurred. We need also to pray, that the good Lord should guide our leaders right. In our different households, as fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, we are saddled with the responsibility of helping our youths to know the truth and to grow in love and honesty.

The anthem is singing again. Let us listen. Let us obey. Let us Serve, with a different kind of understanding. God bless Nigeria.

Arise, O compatriots,
Nigeria's call obey
To serve our Fatherland
With love and strength and faith.
The labour of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain,
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.

O God of creation,
Direct our noble cause;
Guide our Leaders right:
Help our Youth the truth to know,
In love and honesty to grow,
And living just and true,
Great lofty heights attain,
To build a nation where peace and justice reign.