Headline: Remembrance As Tool of Restoration

Posted on: 2015-01-17

The power of remembrance

Remembrance is a powerful faculty which can either be positive or negative. Dante Alighieri, the Italian poet, once said "There is no greater sorrow than to recall a happy time in the midst of wretchedness". Conversely, remembering past sorrows after overcoming adversity can cheer up the soul. Remembrance also helps keep life organized. Past pitfalls push us onto the right path and people draw on past experience shape the present and the future. It is difficult to imagine what life would be without the faculty of remembering, little more than aimless wandering, much like travelling a strange territory without a road map.. 

Armed forces remembrance day

Nigeria has again marked Armed Forces Remembrance Day, that special day set aside to remember the heroism and sacrifice especially of those who gave up their lives for the life of the nation. No one can dispute the good intention in that annual activity. Soldiers generally live the day with excitement. They deserve to! There is power in the memory of the days of chivalry, days "when men were men". In normal times at Army Remembrance Parade grounds one beholds the beautiful sight, of soldiers who, even if broken, wounded or maimed, still proudly march to the sound of the bugle to show their commitment and dedication to the country. However in today's circumstances, where really is that Nigeria of great, proud men? Where is that great country that remembered and celebrated chivalry?" It seems that today the powers that be in Nigeria remember but little. One doubts whether soldiers are truly appreciated anymore in Nigeria. What with armed men falling like matchsticks in conflict with terrorists and not even getting a mention from the authorities! What with men of armour turning tail in cowardice to escape enemy bullets! These are no normal times. Life has certainly lost meaning  and value in Nigeria where hundreds and even thousands die in such attacks and no one even correctly accounts for their passing away. The Armed Forces Remembrance Day seems to have lost all power to make anyone remember anything of value. All that is left seems a hollow trip through the motions of routine and tedium.

Nigeria Remembrance Day

Perhaps we also need a Nigeria Remembrance Day, one day set aside in which to genuinely remember the good old days when life was good in this country, when wholesome values like honesty, fairness, self-discipline, accountability and integrity mattered. Yes indeed, there was once a country, Nigeria, that all and sundry was proud of, which was the envy of all neighbors and visitors. Indeed there was once a country, in which life and property was safe, electricity worked, water and telephones too. There was a country where education functioned and health care was guaranteed. Those were the days when leaders truly served and citizens obeyed them, days when we sang our dear old national anthem and meant it. "Nigeria we hail thee, our own dear native land. Though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand. Nigerians all are proud to serve our sovereign motherland". That sovereign country of brotherhood has today all but disappeared. It has become almost completely indescribable to the youth who see in this killing field little more than a jungle of injustice and a desert land of opportunities. Nigeria today is a "suffering" motherland having been serially plundered, abused, raped and insulted. Today our youth know not what we mean when we talk about a better Nigeria of the past. They regard as strange fiction our stories of a country that once blossomed in peace, justice and unity.

By the Rivers of Babylon

But like the Jews we know where we erred. We are compelled to own up to our omissions. We have so often claimed the privileges of God's chosen people but neglected its duties. "Listen, O Israel, observe these commandments and put them into practice. If you do this you will be well... Do not forget Yahweh when he has led you into the land which he has promised to your fathers... do not go after other Gods.... because your God who is in your midst is a jealous God" (Deut 6: 1-15)". That is why we need a Nigeria Remembrance Day, an opportunity to lament our faults and repent as we live like exiles in our own country. It could do a lot of good for us to sing our own sorrowful ballad: "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and there we wept when we remember Zion....but the wicked carrying us in captivity required of us songs of joy. ' Sing to us one of the songs of Zion' but how could we sing the Lord's song in a strange and alien land"?" (Ps 137)

Arise o compatriots

Yet we must not just sit in this limbo of corruption and sin and rot away. To live again, we must exploit the power of remembrance of the days when we enjoyed God's favour in holiness. We must plead with the words of the bewildered nation in the Bible: "God of hosts bring us back, let your face shine on us and we shall be saved" (Ps. 80;8). Believing in the power of Jesus, we must invoke the Holy Spirit, which is not of fear but of courage to depart from slavery. "Then no more fear: you did not receive a spirit of slavery, but the Spirit that makes you sons and daughters" (Rom 8: 15). Taking a courageous step towards change is the charge of the new Nigerian anthem: "Arise o compatriots, Nigeria's call obey", to ensure that the labors of our heroes past shall never be in vain. It can do us no harm at all to pursue that goal as the general elections hold soon.