Home > Uncategorized > When Posterity is Well-focused – Ngozi Nwozor

When Posterity is Well-focused – Ngozi Nwozor

When Posterity is Well-focused – Ngozi Nwozor

 

First Published in Pushing Out with Ngozi Nwozor, Campus Life, The Nation Newspapers, Thursday, October 8, 2009, this article is published here with author’s permission.

Posterity is about the most common word used by those politicians with half a head on their shoulders and who also love to grandstand. Thus, it’s fairly common to most of us. All the same, to properly understand this article, it might not be a bad idea to define it a little.

It can be used in two contexts but has the same root meaning. Posterity refers to succeeding or future generations, in a collective sense. It can also be used to refer to one person’s descendants. In the Bible, Abraham’s posterity includes Isaac, Jacob and then Isreal. In addition, Christians call themselves children of Abraham. In the sense, the nation of Isreal and the entire Christendom are Abraham’s posterity.

In Nigeria as a nation, the first generation could be called those who fought (from the early 1900s) and attained independence for us in 1960. Of course we all know that the nations which made up Nigeria had existed centuries earlier, but as a geographical entity and a modern state with set boundaries, Nigeria began sometime in the first two decades of the 20th century.

Not all those whom started the agitation for independence lived to see it. Notable against this set is Herbert Macaulay who died in May, 1946, about 14 years before the October 1960 date. Those young swashbuckling military officers who took over from the First Republic politicians could be called the next generation of Nigerians. These are men between their very late 60s and late 70s today – grandparents all. They, people like me who fall within the active working force of the nation, younger adults like undergraduates and even our children all make up the posterity of Nigeria.

All the same, when posterity is mentioned, the population that is usually referred to is the youth. It was one time British Prime Minister, Benjamin Desraeli, who said that: “the youth of a nation are trustee of posterity”. This is to say that it is in the young people that a nation (or a man) has hope or assurance that its tomorrow is safe and sound. It is also in them that one can secure a wasted future. I say “secure” because it is a choice.

The sad thing about this choice is that I may not be around when my grandchildren or great grandchildren are fumbling or stumbling s a result of my inability to lay the foundation for their successes today. I’ll share my personal case with you\; my father (not even grandfather) is no longer alive. But I’m actually very lucky! I’m lucky because I listened to my mother and my teachers; I’m also lucky because I became a Christian at an early age.

I know some whose background and mine were similar but who are not as “lucky”. When I see them today, I shudder to imagine that their lot would have been mine! Thank God indeed.

The quote I used above, from Desraeli, is the short form. The full form goes:

We live in an age when to be young and to

be indifferent can be no longer synonymous. We

must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the

future are represented by suffering millions; and

the youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity.

I write for the young; I write for the trustees of Nigeria’s posterity. Youth and indifference, according to a man who died in 1881 (well over a century ago), can no longer afford to go hand-in-hand. When I consider this quote, I cannot but ponder whether my great-grandfather’s father, my great-grandfather himself and my grandfather lived on the same planet with Benjamin Desraeli!

But I do not want a bigger tragedy to happen: I do not want my own children and those after them to ponder where I was when Barack Obama, Babatunde Fashola, Chimamanda Adichie and some others were bestriding this planet like colossuses. That must not happen. And that is my challenge to every young person today.

We must get beyond looking out for just ourselves and immediate families. That is when we would have left behind a secure posterity. We must stop saving money for our direct children and begin to invest in charities as well as taking on whole projects for our communities, states and people. If you can’t give out scholarships for tens and thousands, take up one person who is not family and train, in addition to yours.

The young person who does not have a sponsor must equip himself by reading good books. You must develop yourself because, according to the same Desraeli: “The most successful man in life is the man who has the best information; circumstances are beyond human control, but our conduct is our own power”. Develop yourself and you will meet tomorrow’s challenges head on; like the eagle, you will go through them and come out a champion.

I’m borrowing a lot from Benjamin Desraeli today. He also had this to say: “Colonies do not cease to be colonies because they are independent; great countries are those that produce great people.” Now, do we realise why though 50 years as an independent nation, we are a sham in the comity of nations?

Nigeria may be presently saddled with immature, childish leaders; it is yours and my duty to do something different, something that wi8ll change the status quo. We must do this bearing in mind that “in a progressive country change is constant; change is inevitable” (Benjamin Desraeli).

It is until you and I become great in Nigeria, not in the US or Britain, that Nigeria can be called a great nation. The problem with going outside to do it is that by the time we get back, we are usually too “refined” or “brainwashed” to properly articulate things the way they really are here. And by the time we really get frustrated by those Ajascos (clowns in government), we take off like Ben Johnson.

It is not an easy task but whoever said nation-building, not to talk of “nation-mending”, is easy? It takes young men and women who will take a stand for integrity and excellence. Just those two principles.

Integrity is to strict adherence to moral and ethical principles; to have soundness of moral character, to be honest. To have integrity is to be whole, entire, pr undiminished; you are not fake or pretentious. You do the right thing whether anyone is there or not. Excellence, in addition, is to constantly strive to do all things extremely well; to refuse to accept anything that is below standard. It’s not something you simply expect from others; it is something you compel yourself to maintain, at all times.

Age does not bestow integrity and excellence on anyone; you cultivate them from a young age and maintain them. Some older people, even your parents, may want to dissuade you. They do not simply because they failed to discipline themselves. Refuse to listen to them because “it is all that the young can do for the old, to shock them and keep them up to date”- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). An unknown author once said: “The good thing about being young is that you are not experienced enough to know you cannot possibly do the things you are doing.”

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