When Chioma Ajunwa became the first Nigerian to win an Olympic Gold Medal in Atlanta in 1996, she was celebrated as a Nigerian. Nobody remembered her tribe. We saw her as our sister and relation. We shared in the glory. Some popped champagne and closed pepper soup joints without knowing Chioma. I am sure some parents from different parts of the country named their children Chioma, hoping they will be successful in their chosen endeavors.
In the euphoria of winning the medal for Nigeria, the Lagos State Government, not Imo or Anambra, promised her a house, which was handed over to her twenty-five years later. That is what sports can do. It makes us forget our parochial and premordial inclinations. In all eulogies online, she is referred to as a Nigerian and not an Igbo Lady.
Tobi Amusan has just become the first Nigerian to win a gold medal in the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, USA. Nigerians all over the world are celebrating her as a Nigerian, not as a Yoruba Lady. So, why can’t we see ourselves foremost as Nigerians in all areas of life and remain proudly Nigerian?
Now that we know that sports unite more than politics and religion, can we begin to invest more in sports that could take the talented off the streets and unemployment rolls and serve as a point of unity for our highly divided nation across tribal and religious lines?
It is time to get serious about rebuilding Nigeria. Congratulations, Tobi Amusan.
Grace and peace!!