THE FOURTH OF JULY

< a good day to declare mental independence >

I’m Americanophile. As in, I greatly admire the United States of America – and publicly so. By the way, I really like how they name things. Today, for instance, July 4, America’s Independence Day, is also officially called “The Fourth of July” or “July 4th.” Just like June 19, the yearly commemoration of the day in 1865 when the last batch of slaves in Texas received the news of the freedom Lincoln won them in the Civil War, is also just called “Juneteenth.”

So, on July 4, 1776, exactly 246 years, the then 13 colonies comprising the United States of America adopted the Declaration of Independence, the historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Declaring independence from Great Britain was also a declaration of war against the most powerful force at the time, one that lasted until the Treaty of Paris of September 3, 1783. Do the math: 7 years!

Around here, Nigeria, we quite can’t relate to that sort of independence, as ours was handed us on October 1, 1960, as an act of Her Majesty’s magnanimity. While Balewa and Zik wined and dined with Princess Alexandra of Kent, Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin who represented the British Crown, they probably were too carried away to realize that there’s always a string that continues to bind you with whoever served you freedom on a platter of gold. You never really break up with them.

The freedom to think for oneself, to give yourself a real chance at self-determination, almost never comes without a form of fight. And mental freedom is the priciest gift you can give yourself in a society and time where social media and some so-called thought leaders and blind religious guides are luring you to adopt patterns of thinking that only serve their ulterior motives.

In more ways than one, the American Revolution appears to be the best thing to have happened to the modern world, as it translated the human socio-political experience from the hitherto widespread monarchical system to the different expressions of democracy we now enjoy. I mean, immediately following was the French Revolution of 1789, only 6 years after Britain and America met in their capital, Paris, to finally agree to part ways.

While we join our American friends to celebrate their independence and the possibility of true self-governance it resounded across the globe, may we remember not to forget to grant ourselves mental independence, at the least.