By Orji Sunday Sylvester
Activist Malala Yousafzai said, “I want people to remember that Pakistan is my country, it is like my mother and I love it dearly. Even if its people hate me, I will still love it .”
Her words survived through the years to become a timeless reprove to many Nigerians who, in their trendy frenzy, are forcing their children on America; leaving a hilarious lash on their nation, Nigeria, our own America.
It is called birth tourism. Birth tourism, according Wikipedia, is to travel to another country for the purpose of giving birth in that country for the purpose of obtaining free schooling, free medical, citizenship for child and parents. The practice of birth tourism is greatly and secretly on the rise among rich Nigerians.
According to the 14th amendment, a baby born in the United States, and “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” (that is excluding children born to foreign diplomats, and perhaps excluding hypothetical children born to an invading army) is automatically a citizen of the United States. There are no exceptions. There is no such thing as “requesting” U.S. citizenship; it is automatically and involuntarily imposed.
However, the 14th amendment didn’t guarantee that the lives and future of those born under such laws would be indiscriminately protected. If so, Indeed, the plight of the many black Americans, would long have ceased. The amendment did not tell us the implication of borrowing a nation to secure the future of our children. Neither did my fellow countrymen weigh the consequences, upon clear conscience, of building a castle on a borrowed block. Permit me to ask, therefore, whether a rat kept under the custody of cat can truly celebrate genuine freedom?. The spot-on answer to these questions resonate in the timeless struggle for the relevance of black lives in the states: The Black Lives Matter Movement which seem a crucible of the struggle that Martin Luther Kings Jnr. championed many years ago.
Yet, many rich Nigerians see the craftiness in planting their seeds in alien soil. The rulers are not guilty- free as much as the ruled. After all, the ruling class loot and dump the yield of the collective struggle of their fellow countrymen abroad.
We must, therefore, equip ourselves with the knowledge that, by our actions and inactions, we can create or recreate a world where our children would become slaves instead of masters of their destiny. As many Nigerians scramble to become U.S citizens, selling out the men and women who would bear the glory of this nation on eagle’s wing, let’s not distance our thoughts from unreported experiences of our brethren scattered like seeds across various countries in the world . Often, we want another nation, just like the founding fathers had, in their errors, assumed that having political freedom was the end of captivity or having wealth the end of lack or that political independence can deputise for patriotic and patient sacrifice that deliver a prosperous nation.
I am tempted, so irresistibly, to recast history into our hearts. Few years ago, precisely 1983, Nigeria sent away thousands of Ghanians, swiftly reminding them that they don’t have an alternate nation or better still, there is no place like home. They swallowed the insult as much as they faced their future. Ghanaians have, today, created a nation that they can proudly pass to their children. Why not Nigeria?.We owe this noble duty to the future generation that may never meet us, know us, appreciate us.
Barely 56 years after independence, we are all nearly weary of being free. We are drifting to the same white men we lost our lots chasing away from this nation. We, afresh, seek the latest version of freedom. But, except we change our attitude towards the nation, except we see Nigeria as our first mandate, except we resolve to collectively redeem this nation from the claws of unfriendly leadership, in vain, our dreams would be.
That nation we run to was built on people’s sacrifice. That was what I saw when I watched the American Veteran’s Day. I discovered that the builders of America nearly had no benefits in its current prosperity. Those who threw their lives into her freedom, the American civil war, her unity without which nothing would be left of America to desire. For a nation that was once as unrepentant as Nigeria, they offered their cheerful sacrifice. Lessons abound in the words of J.M. Barie: “Dreams do come through, if only we wish hard enough, you can have everything in life, if only you will sacrifice everything else for it.”
That’s not all. The move is not economically beneficial. The Medical Tourism Association research statistics, disclose that “23 percent of Nigeria’s population has access to a combined buying power in excess of US28 billion dollars, mostly made up of professional and middle-class Nigerians whose desire to seek privileges such as better health care services or simply dual citizenship options for their child/children is on the rise”.
I would have slipped to the valley of ingratitude if my lips fail to hail all the men and women whose sacrifices have taken us this far. They, whose voice rang out in the morning to correct the ill. The teacher whose pay is so meagre; starving and serving the nation. The police man who bore the pain of our defence, receiving the bullets shot against everyone of us. The clerk whose honest record, the world may not know. The doctor whose secret sacrifice eludes recognition. The veteran pensioner whose youthful energy was invested, unreservedly, into the nation’s feverish fortune. Yes, you whose faith in this nation remain resolute. All those who, in their zeal, paid the unrewarded ultimate sacrifice for this threshold where our glory would flourish. Those tiny drops of patriotism will, one day, make an ocean of redemption.
Orji writes from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka