Let’s take time to laugh at ourselves today. And what better way to light up the laugh lines than with the hallowed traditions of this country? You see, there’s this line of the Nigerian national anthem that’s obviously there for shit and giggles. Actually, every line of the anthem is for laughs, but this line is particularly extra comical: “The labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain.”

"Hehehe. You're killing me, man. No pun intended."

“Hehehe. You’re killing me, man. No pun intended.”

The hilarity here is not that we have no heroes in the objective sense (we do, seriously) nor is it that we have consigned the labours of  these heroes to the recycle bin (we have).  The real joke is that our problem is much more serious: we have no freaking idea what a hero is or who our heroes are. These days, a number of odd figures show up on the hero radar, the word “hero” has lost all meaning and the criteria for selection has become quite jumbled.

BBA winners don't qualify as heroes.

Getting a Presidential handshake is NOT a criteria.

So here’s a quick test: if you’re able to identify Uti in the picture above, but not Saro-Wiwa in the picture further above, then congrats! You’re the fucking problem with this country. But before you jump off the nearest bridge—a solution which we highly recommend—its not entirely your fault that Uti is more  recognizable than Ken.

Its all DSTV's fault. Especially the Compact  package.

Blame the DSTV Compact package. Those rouges.

The creepy value system most of us were bred with has blatantly encouraged us to regard winning a million Naira in an effortless venture as a more worthwhile life achievement than fighting social injustice without pay. Even worse, our moral and religious systems have encouraged the idea that a good spiritual life is necessarily rewarded with riches.

"They see me ridin', they hatin'..."

“I fasted and prayed. And paid my tithes.”

That is why our leaders keep getting away with corruption. Because deep down, we value those leaders who cram their mouths full much more than those who go hungry for us.  In the latest installment of materialistic hero-worship, lots of folks went gaga over the fact that some Nigerian woman took Oprah’s place at the top of the dollar counting scale. In typical Nigerian fashion, this was enough reason to be proud to be a Nigerian. Worse, this non-news was taken seriously by a lot of people.

"Fellow Nigerians. This. Changes. Everything."

“Fellow Nigerians: This. Changes. Everything.”

Of course, it is irrelevant to most of the Alakija hero worshipers that Oprah’s influence over the years derived from what was basically community service, and not from the number of dollar bills in her wallet. This inability to discern what is worthwhile is why the prayer meetings are going to speed up like an expressway on drugs, as pastors get new material to feed their congregation.  And all over Nigeria, folks will keep on begging  God desperately for their chance at mouth-watering riches in a misguided attempt to involve the divine in material aspirations.

The Church keeps marching on.

Whatever, the Church keeps marching on.

Now here’s the lesson today: a people are defined by their heroes. Heroes are ordinary people who manage to do extraordinary things. Extraordinary things such as  defending the weaker and battling the stronger. We used to have such heroes; some kickass awe-inspiring heroes that stood their grounds before teargas and gun bullets. We used to have men and women who stood and died for what was right.

We used to have Dagrin.

“We used to have Dagrin.” Hell, no.

From the days of the Aba Women’s Riot to the nights of Occupy Nigeria. We had voices that spoke without fear or guilt. Yes, Superman and Batman used to live among us.  But they are mostly gone now. What we have today are bratty guys who win reality shows and silver-fed women with oil blocks. These are our freaking heroes. Well played, Nigerians. You messed up in heroic proportions.



  1. As with every other thing, the unseen guides the corporeal. But how do we change our ‘value system’? A hero who sprouts in these conditions, will immediately die. Immediately.

    I reckon we have lost this generation, but hopefully not the next. Problem is, in Nigeria, hope is mere folly.


  2. Ayo again, you did it. You owe me money to buy rub for my already cracked rib. That said…

    Each day the “hope” we have in Nigeria, in Nigerians go “less” and soon we may end up “hopeless”. I argued with a friend few days back about the wealth of Folorunsho Alakija, she kept saying “It’s God that did it”. Fine, as much as I believe in God for miracles, I don’t think he’s a magician like our airplane winner made him look like with her comment of fasting and praying. Are we that retarded now? Seriously?

    People no longer respect intellectual achievement and or dignity, all the respect is the powerful pamphlet and whoever has bucks of it. At this point, I’ll borrow a line from Femi Kuti “I sorry sorry oh, I sorry for Nigeria”

    Thanks for writing this Ayo. It’s time we, as Nigerian youth, stand for what we believe in – what is right. Saro Wiwa is our hero and I ask, who’s Uti please? I’m kinda lost here…. Seriously


  3. 21st century…. who cares about intellectual achievement, freak it … This is the Intellectually uninformed age.. so much light yet loads of darkness, intellectual information at their finger tips can’t be seen. Well done! You killed it as usual.


  4. Wonderful piece Ayo…if i have to visit a hospital soon, it will be from falling from my seat and hurting myself while reading your piece.

    Here is a tweet i posted yesterday:
    Tweet by @nsisongeffiong
    08:29 PM – 09 Dec 12

    “The clusterfuck called Nigeria”
    It beats me how we manage to do everything wrong and are not even close to making up for lost time.

    However i disagree slightly with @ikeamadi regarding language, a writer should not be overburdened with correctness of grammar so as to lose the impact of the message.

    I like what the language does, jarring, drives home the message that we have “messed up in heroic proportions.”


  5. “If you can recognise UTI and not SARO- WIWA in the pictures above, you are the fucking problem with Nigeria!!!!!” That got me!

    AYO is owing me his brain, we had a deal!….. 😀


  6. Hmmm….It seems that often a fine line separates the genuine mystic and the lunatic fringe, a lot of things erode this generation but as it stand it appears only God can salvage our situation. Language or no language dis is an undeniably superb article and the message-on point!!!


  7. Succintly put. We celebrate mediocrity yet blame the government when they do likewise. Why won’t the political class do same when they started off like this?


  8. This is a thought provokin article.our leaders got it all wrong and sadly we are getting it wrong too.The challenge is HOW DO WE GET BACK ON TRACk?most of the people concerned wuld not even get to read this. Beacause lots of Nigerians are too lazy to read.everyone wants to make his money the quickest way.but I know it all begins with US.individually we can spread this news and maybe with time we’ll get to convince a good percentage of Nigerians.Thanks for this wonderful piece!


  9. You sort of wrote something that has been plaguing my mind, which I have been finding it difficult to express in writing. We just have this way of placing premium on worthless things at the expense of the beneficial. It has so become a part of us that you get labelled different tags for not surrendering to their warped views. Good piece again Ayo, God bless you


  10. True Heroes or mentors are declining geometrically in our country. Unreal reality shows has held us all in its cosmetic awesomenes. I actually had to take a second look before I could recognise Saro Wiwa. This is a sober call to all of us.
    Nice piece bro.


  11. In the land of poverty a rich man is king, in the land of the blind a one eyed is king in the land filled with ignorance an hunger desperation for riches and wealth is the song people sing the water the drink and the treasure that keep them motivated to work. truth may God save us all, we all have Babylonian greed running through our veins


  12. Nice piece bro! This brings me back to the so called black brother africa BBA as it is fondly called, I had tweet fight with fellow nigerians just because i condemed it!
    What is the importance of BBA to us? What is the importance of miss Nigeria beauty peagent to us in our quest for a better Nigeria? Unfortunately, these so called celeberities are our heroes!
    The question now is, can this generation save Nigeria?


  13. Real talk, I hope people are listening. I pray that by 2015 we dont fall for another sorry ass pathetic shoeless or clueless sombody, its time we started voting for people who have a track record for positive achievments.
    I dont believe this generation is lost, the comments on here so far acknowledges this, but are we willing to take back our country?


  14. Most people find it funny. I don’t. It’s so poignant and caused me to reflect. As parents / adults are we setting examples for kids/ coming generations? I reside in the diaspora and parents actually shield their wards from goings on back at home. I agree that news about Nigeria is not particularly uplifting and cheery but what we are doing is creating a new breed of human beings with Nigerian names that can’t even locate the country on the world map. The advent of social media has made information dissemination easier and even people that took a passing interest in the polity and hardly bought or read newspapers a few years ago now fancy themselves as experts in analysing the sorry state of the Nigerian socio/political situation.
    I hate to sound patronising but Ayo Sogunro is a breath of fresh air. I enjoy his perspective and if more people scratch the surface and take the pains to read into the underlying message we as Nigerians are our own problems. The next batch of Personal Assistants/ Media Consultants are going to be recruited from twittersphere come 2015 and it won’t shock me that they will outdo the Reno Omokri and Reuben Abatis in lying and spinning to earn a living
    I hope we learn our lessons before then and take our destiny in our hands like the Egyptians have done. It is easy to jump on twitter and “famz” if you would permit me the deployment of that term but the Nigerian problem runs deep and given the opportunity a lt if the foul mouthed analysts on twitter will outdo the folks they are so quick to denigrate
    Thank you for this Ayo, and I hope people see the underlying message.

    Kunle Adefioye


  15. I was talking to a man I met in a public transport few months ago, and this article reminded me of our discussion, the main problem with Nigeria is WE and Our LEADERs yes WE, This present generation of LEADERs (dem GEJ set) and present set of YOUTHs can’t change this country, why? Ans: the mentality of ‘Make I chop ma own’ has eaten deep into our system and that’s where d fucking problem lies. A house without a good foundation is definitely gon crumble, I went to a Government primary school recently and I left d place in tears, and those kids are our so called ‘future leaders’ we’ve forgotten our root, our quest 4 ‘fast mone fast cars’ is what’s killing our nation, I ‘clocked’ 25 this year but I can still remember what it was like when I was in Primary school, all those Ghanaian teachers b4 d GHANA MUST GO era, now our foundation has nuttin to fucking look up to, 4 Nigeria to move forward we need to work on our Kids (primary education) atleast if its just ‘spoken english’ fear of God and historical lessons 4 d next ‘GEN’ it’ll go a long way,
    Thought provoking article tho, hummorous and indicting. God bless


  16. Honestly! You take the words right out of my mouth!!!
    Just when I was about to point it out. I was so sick of hearing the so called alakija story!

    So what she is rich! As far as I am concerned, Oprah still takes the crown, what influence or meaning does she have to the average person in the world, how many people recognise her? My 5 year old cousins could probably pick Oprah right out of a crowd, because of her accomplishments. Can the same be said for alakija?

    Hero? Please!

    Sometimes I swear u r in my head Mr Ayo!!!

    Good job!


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