This question rightly came to my mind way back when I was offered admission to study History in the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. My parent and siblings do ask me “Where will you work when you graduate with History”. “I can work anywhere in any profession”, I replied. Asides this, anytime I meet up with family friends and they asked me, “what course are you studying in the University?”. “History”, I replied and observed that there reaction after hearing “History” was passive and non-challant. Later on, my department metamorphosed into “History and International Studies” so I decided to give others the impression that I was studying “History and International Studies”. Then I noticed family friends laughing and being happy hearing that I am studying “History and International Studies”.
I had to settle for History after waiting for 3 years seeking for admission to study Mass Communication/Journalism and Political Science due to my passion for both courses.
Apart from Medicine, Law, Accounting, Economics, Engineering etc, other courses seemed to be relegated to the background in Nigeria. Most parents wants their wards to study the above mentioned courses as compared to “History”. My parents do tell me that I should study a course that will bring money to me and put food on my table considering our poor family background which is another factor that determines choice of course/profession/career.
WHAT IS HISTORY?
After reading “What is History” by E.H. Carr, my understanding about the nightly gritty of History was transformed. He defined “history as an unending dialogue between the past and the present”. He also defines history as interpretation of Historian works be it objective or subjective as Historian facts are like fish in fishmongers slab in which they can decide on what they wants to write on depending on the importance of the subject matter. The definition of History means the past helps us in knowing and planning for the future ahead by ensuring that the mistakes of the past fails to re-occur in the future. Government and people world over have been able to make use of “History” to mend all spheres of their nation for better. It is against this background that the importance of history in our nation can not be over-emphasized if properly harnessed in planning for our future.
NIGERIA AND HISTORY
History has it that Nigeria has failed to learn from History in policies and proper planning implementation. Things don’t happen for no reason or cause (causation). The situations that we are currently battling with had taken place in time past if not in Nigeria, it might have taken place in neighbouring countries. Better usage of History for policies planning and implementation in Nigeria will surely go a long way in helping our country get to her avowed lofty heights.
We kept producing graduate Historians and other graduates in diverse fields on a yearly basis without making proper use of them to move this country forward. Graduate Historians are taken in high esteem outside the country but the reverse is the case in Nigeria. I am not advocating for myself or for other graduate Historians out there roaming about the streets searching for a daily bread, my plight is the failure of our policy makers in looking back at past experiences/mistakes before making major governmental decisions.
As Nigeria marks 100 Years of nationhood, we need to look back at the past 100 years to examine what has gone wrong with us as a nation and proffer better solutions aimed at making Nigeria great again. The masses are suffering. The rich is becoming richer while the poor continues to live in abject poverty. Its high time we look back as a country and proffer a better solution to all these problems. The earlier the better for us as a country because a country that fails to look back at her history in planning is done for and goes into oblivion.
In order not to go into oblivion, we must look back in order to see clearly where we are coming from and know where we are really heading as a country. We must make is right and count now. Now is the time.