Friday, June 15, 2007

Searching for the Golden Fleece

Earlier today, I went for a meeting at the Avon head office in Sandton. I was invited by my Nigerian friend who is a sales representative for Avon. As we drove to Sandton with her zonal team leader, and two other Nigerian friends, the conversation (as is usual whenever two or more Nigerians are gathered) turned to what we commonly term 'the Nigerian problem'.
Sitting here infront of my laptop, I reflect on my personal journey in search of the 'golden fleece'. There are so many reasons why people (around the African continent) leave their countries, more often than not, civil unrest or war are major factors.
For most young Nigerians like myself, the need to re-locate is motivated by a desire for a better quality of life. In most cases, such individuals are educated professionals, who like myself have left fairly well-paid jobs and a comfortable life-style (or in many cases have looked for work for over five years or more), and travelled long distances to start over. Facing the challenges of adjusting to new cultures and life-styles, living amongst strangers and constantly dealing with feelings of alienation.
Why would anyone go through so much trouble? That is a question I do not ask myself because I am very clear what my 'golden fleece' is. For me, it is the opportunity to live in an environment where government works for the people. A place where I can pay taxes and see what I am paying for. Where public services work and I don't have to stress and strain to have basic necessities like electricity, running water or health services. I want a place where the playing field is level and I can apply for a job and get it based on my qualifications. The list runs on.
This is the reason why I have left my country. It really makes me sad because Nigeria is endowed with immense natural and human resources. But if these resources are not channelled towards improving the lives of her citizens and developing the youth, of what use are they?
I envy South Africans because they have a government that makes an effort to improve the lives of its citizens. These efforts might not be enough in the opinion of a majority of South Africans. In my opinion, government interventions (where they exist and function) have to be balanced by individual efforts as well.
A Nigerian citizen is able to survive and thrive in any environment because we have no illusions about getting any assistance from our government. Where ever you are, you have to depend on yourself, your family and fellow Nigerians. For us, failure is not an option.


Thomas Blaser said...

Where I come from, Canada and Swizerland, things are exactly the opposite. Citizens look up to government, civil servants work hard and corruption (hopefully) is very low. Everything is very safe. Public servics work well, all the time, in all sectors - bliss reigns. It is a privilige, measured on a global scale, to live in countries as such. I want to be clear: I am grateful for having the privilege of carrying passports from thesse countries. But such good living can also give you a false sense of security. I mean the knowledge that one has to crack it, because there is no alternative, heightens our awareness of life, of being alive, of being human.

Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

Thomas, that's what kills me about the Nigerian government. It just does not care about its citizens. That's why a lot of Nigerians leave the country, we would like to for once live in a place where services work!!