By Bassey Ibiatisuho
Her tears during the only medal ceremony at the 2022 World Athletics Championship in Eugene, Oregon, United States, where the Nigerian national anthem was played, evoked a national feeling among Nigerians back home and in the diaspora with some literally shedding tears along with the 25-year-old Women’s 100m Hurdles World Record holder, Oluwatobiloba Amusan.
July 24 2022, the day the World Championship ended in United States was the beginning of history in Nigeria, it will never lose its place. Nigerians woke up to perhaps the best national/international news about the country and the most positive one at that since the year started, the type of news they wish can break every day. For many, July 24 every year would be celebrated as “World Oluwatobiloba Day,” for indeed ‘The Lord Is A Big King.’
From Aba to Alaba, from Uyo to Oyo, from Bosso to Sokoto, from Birnin Kebbi to Benin, from Ekiti to Okitipupa, from Ikare-Akoko to Okokomaiko, from Awka to Kaduna, from Abuja to Jalingo, Nigeria united as one indivisible country and celebrated the national honour brought her without sentiment of asking to know where Tobi Amusan comes from, nobody was interested in her religion, neither was her political belief a consideration. Nigerians celebrated a Nigerian who made Nigeria proud.
The spirit of patriotism which is greater than tribe, religion, political leaning and other petty sentiments played out in full dimension as Nigerians from “top to bottom” using all available media and platforms united to celebrate a victory that came in time of despair, a victory that came while the nation is losing the battle against insurgency, a victory that came while education has lost its place in the country and the future leaders are home for months without hope.
The victory came at a time when Nigerians are groaning in pains because of the harsh economy which has doubled everything in the market while income remains unchanged, it came when the nation’s seat of power, Abuja is no longer safe, like other parts of the nation. This is a time griots like, Chinua Achebe titled “Things Fall Apart” and Fela Anikulapo Kuti puts it as “Sorrow Tears and Blood”
So like the delicate raindrops dripping from a flower, Tobi fought hard to hold back the tears, but her emotion betrayed her because only a wise man remembers where he came from. It was a moment of mixed feeling, a tear to unite her with the broken hearted in Nigeria and a smile as a sign of her joy for herself, her family and her country, Nigeria. A moment many thought was impossible, a moment that became possible and a moment that is still possible.
Nigerians who watched that beautiful perfect moment seasoned with the instrumentation of the nation’s anthem understood even better the lyrics of the national anthem reminding us of who we truly are and the promises we hold as a nation.
They cried along when they remembered the labour of our heroes past through tears and blood, fighting for the freedom of Nigeria, how united, peaceful, promising and respected the young nation was on October I, 1960 and how the whole story has changed and has been shattered in 61 years by those who enjoyed the glory days of this very nation.
Congratulations Tobi Amusan for singlehandedly bringing back greatness to Nigeria, while others changed nationality, you stayed and defended Nigeria with everything you have and today we are proud and celebrating. We will bask in this euphoria which has reduced the burden of citizenship a bit and pray Nigeria does not happen anytime soon to take the joy away.