Chicken Soup for the (Nation-Building) Soul
Bobby Udoh’s ‘Nation-Building: How to Build and Sustain a Developed Nigeria’ is the sort of book that you read more than once. I was jotting down notes as I read it, and I see now that one of the things I scribbled down early on was: ‘… a book to be savored, considered, and reconsidered.’ It’s the kind of book that you might decide to read a chapter of each morning in order to help set the tone for your day.
Sometimes, it’s the ‘little things’ that make a book endearing. I actually enjoyed reading the Acknowledgments section of the book. It was sort of like watching a baby being born, and it was interesting to learn how the idea for the book emerged and developed, and who was there along the way to help nurture it. It was also nice to see some familiar names acknowledged in this section.
When your nation is ‘in trouble,’ knowing where to begin, and figuring out how you can truly contribute to making it better, is daunting. It was therefore a relief to read about doable, bite-sized tasks that can help each of us contribute meaningfully toward the goal of nation-building – tasks such as changing our nation-related thoughts and words. Many of us do this all the time in other areas of our lives – so, why not in regard to nation-building? In addition to changing our thoughts and words, we receive practical tips for putting our hands to the plough and going about building the sort of nation that we want. The point driven home by the book is that everyone can do something.
‘Nation-building’ sounds like such a technical and laborious subject. However, the author does an excellent job of making this topic extremely palatable: The book is generously interspersed with direct quotations from historical figures. This style is reminiscent of a Steven Covey volume: inspiration and motivation in small, power-packed doses. Also, a full chapter is devoted to nation-building case studies – intriguing stories about ordinary people who got up and did one excellent thing – gave their all to a particular idea or cause which (whether they intended for it to do so or not) ended up impacting their nations positively. This climactic chapter leaves the reader invigorated and ready to act! It often really is the small (and sometimes big), excellently-executed acts of individuals that come together to create a great nation. The author’s conviction and passion leave the reader not only with a sense of urgency, but also with a feeling of empowerment.
One thing I was wistful about: I wish the book were filled with quotes and case studies from African historical figures. Perhaps there’s this gap because we still have a lot of work to do in terms of truly building our nations in Africa? Or because we haven’t sufficiently documented the words of African leaders and change agents? Or because such documentation isn’t easily accessible? Whatever the case, it points to the need to continue to ‘build,’ and underscores the need for a book like this.
Well done, Bobby Udoh! I’m so proud to call you my classmate.