Spanish writer and philosopher, George Santayana, is attributed with the quote,
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Sadly, this is
the case for our country, Nigeria. We have made so many mistakes, over, and over,
and over again, all because of our utter refusal to learn from our past mistakes.
But then again, how can we learn from past mistakes if as a people, we refuse to
learn our history? History, as a secondary school subject, was removed from the
Nigerian curriculum in the late 2000s, particularly around 2007, and expectedly,
its removal coincided with the uprising of a significantly misinformed generation of
Many positives come to mind when I think of the need for learning about our
country’s history. For one, it is certain to help our young people to understand their
identities. This is especially important because our youth of today are slowly losing
faith in our country. They are constantly bombarded with negative stories, ranging
from corruption, bribery, terrorism, and nepotism, and these powerful stories have
eroded their belief in our country. For many Nigerian youths, the dream is to leave
the country, ‘japa’, like they call it, and this is because there’s little or no faith in
the future of our country. If only they knew our history! If only they knew the
stalwarts that our country has produced—our heroes’ past; they would know not to
bet against us rising from our current predicament.
In addition, studying history will inspire our young people to aspire for greatness.
There are many lessons to be learned from our past heroes: Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe
taught us unflinching patriotism; Funmilayo Ransome Kuti was a model of female
empowerment; Chief Anthony Enahoro was a beacon of resilient activism; Margaret
Ekpo showed us the endless possibilities that come with educating the girl child;
Sir Ahmadu Bello fought for our freedom; and Chief Obafemi Awolowo opened our
eyes to the importance of education. These great men and women, amongst others,
should be role models for our young people of today. Many of them paid for the
rights that we enjoy today with their blood and tears, and the country owes them
Nigeria is a multicultural country with an almost embarrassing abundance of natural
resources; however, I think that our most prized possession is our people. The
uniqueness of our ways, the diversity of our cultures, and the beauty in our
differences, make us a country with limitless potential, but if we do not learn about
our strengths, our weaknesses, the struggles that we’ve faced; the battles that
we’ve conquered, and the many mistakes that we’ve made, we will forever be a step
away from achieving our dreams.
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