Why Nigeria’s Historic Olympic Moment Proves The Love A Gutless Country Doesn’t Deserve
The winter Olympics are just days away — and among the high-profile athletes preparing to descend on the location of PyeongChang County in South Korea — are three American-born women who are making history as the first-ever Nigerian bobsled team.
Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuomo Omeoga are all former runners (Adigun competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London) who have banded together for the love of sport and duty — in an effort to realize the dreams of dreamers by bloating the entire continent of Africa with pride — at their acceptance into a category that has never hosted a team that matches their likeness.
The ambitious journey took three years to come to fruition — with Adigun orchestrating the events that have delivered monumental results. Once her “crazy idea” began to gather steam — the recruitment of her collaborators followed suit — which initiated the mission of satisfying the rules of entry.
A governing body had to be formed — and since the three athletes were keen on representing their native land — The Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria was immediately established — as well as a GoFundMe account that was set up in 2016 — and quickly raised enough money to fund supplies and other necessities.
Due to the uniqueness of their status — the team’s popularity soared overnight and soon sponsors like Visa and Under Armour answered the call. But — the biggest hurdle of all was the requirement of polishing off a total of five races in order to qualify for competition — and by November the athletes had officially completed their goal.
Chicago native — Adigun — who is a “three-time national track champion for Nigeria” — recently expressed the reason why despite the “American-born” status she shares with her team mates — the desire to give Nigeria “a good name” is worth the effort:
“Nigerians are so excited to see the country being represented.” “I realized exactly what was a void from the country of Nigeria, from the continent of Africa, and for women in general being represented.”
The team is now enjoying their newfound celebrity — but for me — as a Nigerian-American — the reality of their decision to forgo the option of competing as Americans in a quest to uplift the spirits of their compatriots —demonstrates their love for a gutless country that has done nothing to earn such a gesture.
My frustration with the nation of my discontent has been documented multiple times with passionate fury and the tragic sense of longing that leads to a growing pile of disappointments that are imposing in height and depth.
From the gangster period of military coups in the eighties to the global outcry over the missing Nigerian schoolgirls — including the incredulous theories surrounding their transitional fate — there’s never a shortage of reasons to cower in shame at the audacity of a country’s longstanding tradition of gross inefficiency — that is fueled by the government’s refusal to value the worth of citizens who are systematically punished for existing.
The arrival of Boko Haram almost a decade ago — quickly escalated into a national disaster — as the attacks on villagers based in the northern region grew frequent and more violent based on evidence of grazed territories and rising body counts. Former Head of State — Goodluck Jonathan was widely criticized for his modest approach to a national emergency that only got worse after the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls activated — #BringBackOurGirls.
After a heated election in 2015 — Jonathan accepted his imminent defeat and made way for Muhammadu Buhari’s ascension to a post that he had stolen decades earlier for the sheer desire of wielding power over the masses — without the promise of security or access to basic amenities.
Almost three years later — Buhari has repeated history by woefully failing to uphold his end of the bargain — and as the 2019 election looms ahead — it’s difficult to fathom the future of a country that is still battling the terminal diagnosis of a past that is inevitably threatening the likelihood of a complete recovery.
Nigerians have always weathered a celebrated disdain for their shared destiny since the day of independence was stamped with approval back in 1960. The era of colonialism did irreparable damage when soldiers guised as missionaries — brutally invaded foreign lands with complete disregard for the traditions that were already instituted — and with the goal of cultural and capital thievery.
The dire consequences of a forced division with the callousness of greed and betrayal of a White regime — that bequeathed the lasting legacy of oppression and mental mutilation — is overwhelmingly responsible for how and why the most populous country in Africa is simply unable to thrive within the parameters of reason.
As the years go by — desperation reaches a higher tempo as bribery and corruption continues to dominate an already sickly climate that is spearheaded by national tragedies — that come in the form of tribal disputes and a quality of living that mirrors bipolar tendencies.
This explains why many are risking their lives by seeking asylum abroad — and the results of this escape pattern is anything but victorious as the headlines illustrate the stuff that only nightmares can render.
The current enslavement of Nigerians in Libya is the high price unfortunate migrants have to shell out for a heritage that has evolved into a full-blown assault on their souls.
Even as the unimaginable unfolds — the world gawks with narrowed interests as the exploitation of resources continues without a hitch — guiltlessly displacing natives — and giving the Nigerian government the incentive to ignore the plight of their helpless citizens in favor of assured rewards.
According to Nigerian news outlets — President Buhari has promised to host Adigun, Onwunmere, and Omeoga at the presidential Villa in the capital of Abuja — after the games are over — regardless if they win or lose.
Adigun who serves as the team’s captain issued a statement in response to the “level of support and acceptance from Nigerians and the corporate community.”
“We are going to Korea with the weight of the country and the continent on our backs. We have resolved not to fail.”
Her words are endearingly haunting when you consider that the “weight of the country” is a burden that all Nigerians carry for life with no hint of relief.
The “shithole” reference may have been a hurtful shaming of nations that are supposedly rife with so much shit — that there is no other choice but to take a chance in places that offer tangible tools for survival — and when it comes to my homeland — I simply can’t deny how shitty things have always been.
My parents came to America in the seventies and instead of remaining in their adopted country like most of their counterparts — they chose to return home. The trio bound for the Winter Olympics also share a similar tale of parents that emigrated from Nigeria to the country that essentially helped to make their dreams come true.
For that alone — these future Olympic champs should be inspired to assign their impending victory to the U.S.A. — in the grandest manner possible — and with the pride of being lucky enough to dodge the misfortune of those who don’t have a chance in hell of manifesting their visions — without almost dying in the process.
But the honor will go to Nigeria — because somehow — we as a people — are forever bonded to the pact we made in silence — and in the presence of ancestral showers that lightly fall to refresh our weary dispositions. The greater the pain — the more our love expands to arm us with the uncanny strength of forgiveness and unparalleled flexibility.
The British colonizers didn’t earn our resources and Nigeria will never deserve the love of its people.
And despite the outcome of the first-ever Nigerian bobsled team — there will be no winners — just the wasted love of three young women fighting for — green, white and green — long after the race is done.