THE SYMBOLIC MEANING OF OCTOBER 1
Our coming together as a people has a purpose yet to be realised, writes Cosmas Odoemena
Every October 1 Nigerians home and abroad celebrate our independence from the British colonial masters. Nigeria shares this “national birthday” with some famous people, among them Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States of America, Theresa May, erstwhile Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, King Henry lll, English monarch who was known for the Magna Carta, Julie Andrews, who played Maria in the classic movie “The Sound of Music,” and William Edward Boeing, who founded The Boeing Company.
It’s indeed 59 years now since that special day, but what does October 1 mean to us? What does the date mean to our leaders? What does it mean to our children and our youths? What does it mean to our mothers? What does it mean to our old folks?
Now, what does October 1 mean to those who have no jobs? What does the date mean to those who have been kidnapped? What does the date mean to those whose loved ones were killed by suspected herdsmen? What does the date mean to families who don’t have food on their table? What does it mean to those who are sick and can’t get the care they need from our hospitals? What does the date mean to those who languish in prison awaiting trial for offenses they did not commit?
Perhaps October 1 means something else to the Hausa or Fulani. It probably has a different meaning to the Igbo. It could also have a different meaning to the Yoruba. It perhaps means something else to the Ijaw. Perhaps all the different tribes of Nigeria view this date from a different prism.
Again, does October 1 mean to you the day it was legitimatized that your ethnic stock was meant to rule other ethnic groups? Does the date mean to you the day you remember that the colonial masters forced you to live with those you don’t like?
Perhaps in a seeming transference, does the date make you feel trapped? Does the date remind you of injustice? Does the date agitate you? Does the date make you despair? Do you feel you don’t have a sense of belonging with this date? Does the date remind you who have left Nigeria to live abroad that you should never return home? Does the date make you feel you have to change your nationality? Does the date remind you of your biggest hurts?
But it was never meant to be this way. Everything that happened to Nigeria was predestined. Our coming together has a purpose we are yet to realise. And this particular date is not an accident. October 1 is a symbolic date and perhaps only providence could have chosen that date for Nigeria’s independence. Our founding fathers fought for our independence and had high hopes for the future of Nigeria. But we have not lived up to it. But if we had more insight we would think differently. Believe it or not there are those who read dates and numbers and events and understand what they stand for. Perhaps when we know better we may be guided accordingly. October 1 means more.
According to Leah M Bostwick, in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, October got its name from the Romans. It was initially the eighth month of the 10 month year. October is from the Latin octo, which means “eight”. The number “eight” is said to be a symbol of wealth, prosperity, peace and fertility. October is normally time of the year when farmers harvest their crops. October is seen as a highly lucky and prosperous “number” because of its strong association with abundance and prosperity, little wonder then that Nigeria is rich in human and natural resources.
According to Hans Decoz each digit number is a character, just like a human being. Number one is special even from a spiritual point of view. It’s the number that represents creation – the major force from which all other numbers come. The number one cherishes its “independence”, and is a doer, and strong force that gives results and won’t let anyone or anything to limit its potential. The number one likes to be in the forefront, directing and leading others. Little wonder again Nigeria is a leader in Africa.
Furthermore, number one stands for unity and primacy. One is indivisible and is not made up of other numbers, perhaps why we can’t break up Nigeria.
The Good Book says “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God, is ONE Lord”. And there is no other God. So number one is God’s number.
Still, according to the Good Book God made Eve from just one rib taken from Adam near his heart at his side so that they would love each other. God did this to preach unity. And Nigeria desperately needs unity.
Nigerians must have unconditional love for their country and their fellow Nigerians. It’s through this that we can experience unity, peace, prosperity and justice that we hope from Nigeria. The date to begin is October 1!
Dr Odoemena is medical practitioner in Lagos