If Hilda Baci’s effort was for something called the Okoko World Records with headquarters in Naija, would we, Nigerians, have celebrated her as much as we have?
The easy answer is NO because we haven’t succeeded in building anything that has global resonance and still brings the most value to us as a country and as a people.
So much talent and resources in this country and yet there isn’t a single brand we have created that would have remarkable folks from the west or east wanting to get their names celebrated in.
If you win Olympics, we’ll celebrate you. But you should know that the ancient version is from Greece; the modern one is pretty much the creation of one Greek man and a Frenchman.
If you win the Grammy, same thing. But it is American, as is the Oscars. If you win the Booker Prize, I will personally sing your praise. But it is British.
If you win the Nobel, it is to Sweden you’ll go and give speech. Which great thing would make a Norwegian/American/Japanese/Brit happy to give a speech in Abuja, if it is not about how his/her country wants to give aide to Naija or forgive our debts?
What we have are remarkable individuals. As for institutions, especially those that celebrate greatness, we have failed woefully. Some people say Nigerians are only excited for oyinbo validation, and they are correct. But what is the alternative?
Even our elections need oyinbo validation. When we suspected something was wrong with INEC, folks were tagging the US and UK handles. Instinctively, we know we can’t help ourselves. Now, the US has said it’ll issue a ban. But Nigeria supposedly has anti-corruption bodies.
You can’t blame the greatness-seeking Nigerians for pursuing oyinbo acclaim. Which Nigerian institution supposedly for greatness have we not used politics, tribal affiliations, commercial interests, and highest financial bidding to poison, to kill?
Unless you bribe, your athletic child will probably not get into our national teams. If you don’t have 100m streams, you will not win any big music award. If you don’t have followers on Instagram, kiss your film award win goodbye. How do we want to grow?
We celebrate Hilda Baci today. But let’s learn the bigger lesson: As a country and maybe even continent, we need institutions to be just as ambitious as Hilda Baci.
Only then will we be able to retain and reproduce greatness so that upcoming Hilda Bacis would look forward to getting into the Okoko World Records. Even if I freely admit that we’ll need a better name than “Okoko”.