I have always been fascinated by the brilliancy of Martin Luther King Jnr. From a very early age, I bought and digested every book about him that I could lay my hands on. His eloquence, his grasp of history and his relative youthfulness (34 years when he delivered his ‘I have a Dream speech’) were all massively interesting to me. It is even more intriguing that the enduring part of the speech was unscripted - a momentous flash of brilliancy that came out of his deep passion for the cause he championed.
I have watched this speech a dozen times and it has become a regular fodder for my presentation skills training programmes. I suppose what was most important for me was MLK’s deep conviction and the willingness by him and his supporters to push and suffer for what they believed.
As the 50th anniversary of the speech is celebrated today and with a black man at the White House, it occurred to me that everything is indeed possible. This gives me hope for my country Nigeria. Things may look bleak at the moment; we may have visionless leaders, and our people may be enslaved to corrupt political, corporate and social elites, I can envisage Nigeria and Nigerians being free one day.
What we must do in the interim, is for everyone who means well for Nigeria to keep the flame blowing by being the best teacher, the careful bus driver, the responsible employer, the diligent employee and the involved citizen wherever they are. The little step taken by each person will become the giant leap to Nigeria’s future.
Secondly, it is common knowledge that freedom is hardly ever freely given, it has to be fought for; the lesson of the civil rights movement is that we must be ready to become the masters of our destiny by fighting for Nigeria’s freedom. The people who benefit from the inefficient systems of Nigeria will never willingly vacate their entrenched positions. They have become a political and economic principality and can only be shifted if and when, like MLK and his group we hold the same level of conviction and passion for change and are willing to fight for Nigeria’s freedom. Let’s fight for this freedom through hard work, responsible citizenship and never keeping quiet about the injustices in our society. Let’s fight for the freedom by holding public servants and politicians to account on social media, newspapers and most importantly with our votes.
I am optimistic that Nigeria’s day will come. PostcardfromLagos