Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Much More Than Patriotism



Reading Victor Moses’ story was one of the most riveting and emotional moments for me in the African Nations Cup. While Nigeria’s victory brought much needed sunshine through the dark clouds that have enveloped this nation over a period of time owing to the various negative reports and happenings, Victor’s story gave me hope that something good can still come out of Nigeria.

Describing his decision to play for Nigeria after such a harrowing experience at such a tender age as being merely patriotic is at best putting the matter lightly. It is nothing short of the personification of the word “forgiveness”; and the exhibition in grand style of the resilient nature of the human spirit.

 Incidentally, Victor and I are namesakes and are equally forever inextricably linked through the sectarian violence of Kaduna, haven been living in that city at the time of the riots. My mother just happened to have escaped death by minutes as she was in the Central Market buying fruits for a supply she had to make that Monday morning. In fact, while driving from the market, she had already started seeing people being attacked. She got home safe by the grace of God.

People lost their lives, and those that were lucky: possessions. I saw and experienced firsthand smoke bellowing from houses, neighbours turning on each other, confusion, anguish, raw havoc, and burnt remains of what use to be a human being. Gruesome images forever indelible etched in the memories of people and causing psychological, social, and economic shock and trauma that naturally accompanies such. Forgive me for my attempt at being so graphic, yet my description cannot aptly describe the scene as only a personal experience (though not wished on anyone) can.

To come through all of these, and still decide to represent a country where such pain was fraught on you, through the inaction or delayed actions of the government, represent the very people that deprived one at such a young age of not only the presence of parents  but also the “condiments“ that accompany their presence is far above patriotism. It’s saintly!

Such a decision not only threatens to portray one as condoning what happened, but also runs the risk of being seen as a spite on the memory of the souls departed while also reeking of ingratitude to the country that accepted you, the society that catered to and for you, while the very one that owned you, and should have been responsible for your violently spewed you out.

While to some it is arguable(however erroneous), that his decision to play for Nigeria may have been borne out of the realization that the chances of playing for England were slim as is the case with many black players that have played for them at age grade level. Whatever the case, it is worthy of note and commendation. I like other soccer loving Nigerians, are happy he did and was in South Africa. More so when other players who have never had to deal with such an experience turned down the offer; or other sports men/women change nationalities later on: the person wey say you can’t change horses mid stream, never hear of Naija before be that: the land where anything can happen.

Victor’s action has taught us a valuable lesson in forgiveness and showed us that the exhibition of this spirit of forgiveness that resides in all of us is only hampered by our decision to exercise it. The moment we do decide, it not only sets us free of the pain and hurt but also enables us to build on that experience and produce beauty from ashes.

Forgiveness frees everyone tied to that experience to live again and eventually make right their lives and the relationship that existed prior to the event.
The fact that he even agreed to come back home and participate the way he did, is a good start. I pray that the joy and happiness that his massive contributions to the success of the Super Eagles has brought to a country that has been itching for some good news, any good news, especially as it concerns our football will stay with him and his family for a very long time to come.

God bless you and your family Victor Moses.