By Tony Ekwoaba
Most Nigerians know the colours, green and white, in our national flag represent fertile land and peace. But we have never asked why the green in the flag was repeated twice, why there was another green even after the first green. Was it just a show of repetition of the colour green? Or was it some mistake in design?
In 1959, a call for entry was made for the design of the Nigerian national flag and over 2000 entries were sent in from around the world. When 23year old Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi’s design was selected in the contest, it seemed like a mere “Green White Green” painting, but our founding fathers saw the meaning behind this design. They did not hesitate to adopt it as our national flag.
Nigeria was born from Europe’s need and scramble for raw materials. Although the units that now make up Nigeria existed before this European scramble, most of these settlements were not nomadic, and so did not know that their far reaching neighbours existed. The White man came, saw what he was looking for, and just like Oliver Twist, you give him a hand shake and he wants your whole arm. This resulted in the various treaties that institutionalized the White man’s stay. In these processes, the white man brought us together. I strongly believe that the white man would not try the experiment of bringing us together if it had no financial benefit to him. He saw that the best way to maximize his exploitation, arguably, was to bring these communities that did not know each other together, and from this, Nigeria was born.
As the new nation Nigeria was born; the people were happy and proud to be Nigerians. Every part of Nigeria had peculiar resource that was self sustaining. The east had palm oil; the west had cocoa and timber, and the north rice and groundnut. We have not forgotten the groundnut pyramids.
There was productivity in every nook and cranny of the nation, and there was peace and love amongst Nigerians as they traded with one another. A Hausa man loved his Igbo trader friend who supplied him palm oil, and the Igbo man loved both his Hausa and Yoruba trader friends because both supplied him with his cow and rubber needs respectively. The fertile land was in use, and there was peace.
Then in 1956, oil was discovered and Nigerians lost it all. Oil money was free money, so the Igbo man, Yoruba Man or Hausa man did not see the need to use the oil money and improve their trade and farms. All they did was run to the capital and collect free money. Productivity dwindled and soon corruption and cutting corners set in. The Ijaw man whose backyard this oil was scooped from, thinks the oil is his own. He does not understand why the oil would be taken from his backyard and its’ proceed shared with everybody. He wants control of the oil, but unfortunately for him, every other person also wants control of the oil. The seed of enmity was planted and we know where we are today.
While all these things happened, the solution to our problem kept staring us in the face; the “Green White Green”. If we must succeed as a nation, then we must look inward, to our roots; the green white green.
We must discard this culture of consumption without production which we have created over the years. We must reduce our dependence on the “manna” called crude oil, for someday this oil would also run out. We have this minute, to make our country great again; we have this minute to plan for our future, and any more delay would be dangerous for us and for generations yet unborn.
We must be passionate about our nation, not only in times of football, but in all times. We must be proud as Nigerians and be ready to put down our lives for the good of this nation.
As a people, we must appreciate our diversity and respect the uniqueness of every tribe. The fact that a Fulani Man drinks fura da nono doesn’t make him dirty because even his Igbo brother uses the little finger to remove dead flies from palm wine before drinking it. The fact that a Yoruba man has difficulty with the ‘H’ consonant doesn’t make him an illiterate. We all have our distinctiveness and we must respect this.
Here is the catch. The Nigerian flag, “Green White Green”, has the green colour repeated twice because our fertile land is the greatest thing that binds us together. The green is repeated to show how important it is to our continued existence. We have to go back and embrace the fertile land so that it will bring forth its fruits of true peace and unity.
Image source: http://worldstagegroup.com
Disclaimer: The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the author are his alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of Pride Nigeria.