“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.”― David Brower
It’s been two years now since my Grandma died, I miss her so much. When I originally wrote this piece five years ago. She was still alive, and we had just celebrated her 95th birthday, and that got me thinking about her legacy. She would have been 100 this month, and yet I remain thankful that she lived a long and fulfilling life.
Recently we mourned the deaths of young people, gone too soon. It hit me again how short life is. Living a long life is not guaranteed. In my reflective moments, I came away thinking about what sort of legacy I will be leaving behind when I depart this realm. When I die, I will not be taking with me any worldly possessions, but what will I leave behind that will bless others long after I am gone?
A legacy is something you leave for the next generation; it is often an inheritance that consists of properties, money and material goods. But more than material possessions, we inherit the framework our lives are built from those who have gone before us.
Apart from the physical wealth that is showcased by real estate or money in trust funds. There are also spiritual, moral and cultural legacies people leave behind for their loved ones. And it is these cultural and moral legacies that have a bearing on the society we live in today. But beyond the legacy one leaves for the family, what legacy is left for the community you belong to?
When I think about Nigeria’s history, I think of the generation of men and women who fought for our independence and who left us a legacy of freedom and excellent opportunities. But what happened to that legacy? Leaders that came after them have squandered our resources, and so we are where we are now. What we have now is a legacy of corruption, injustice and poverty.
How Do We Cultivate Living an enriching Life
However, despite how bleak it looks like at the moment, I believe that as young people, we can change the narrative. Still, before we do, we need to ask ourselves some critical questions.
- What are we the young and still vibrant people going to do about our society? Are we going to continue building on the harmful legacies? Or are we going to decide to do things differently, so that when we leave, we leave a better Nigeria for the future citizens?
- What would occur if we stopped thinking of making quick money at the expense of honesty, integrity? And instead, we focused on finding lasting solutions to the myriad of problems that plague our society?
These are some of the questions to ask ourselves, as young people who vote leaders into power. Or as emerging leaders in a position to get things done, whether on the grassroots level or the national level. As a young person, who would love to make a difference, I ask myself what would happen if long-lasting electricity was generated. Roads were paved and reliable, built to last a long time, and school are equipped for the 21st century with books, computers and well paid competent teachers?
- What would happen if good health care was affordable and available to all citizens? Putting an end to high infant mortality and reducing the number of preventable deaths caused by lack of information and resources.
- What would happen when insecurity becomes a thing of the past?
- When will our girl child be safe at school from kidnappings, and those who go to worship at their place of worship, when will they be safe from harm? Well if all these could happen, Nigeria will be a worthy legacy to leave for our children and grandchildren.
- What Parent would love to leave behind a decayed and corrupt infrastructure for their children as a legacy?
But this is the current situation in Nigeria. Our leadership has failed us, over and over again. Well, it’s time we stopped this endless circle of instability and corruption. Because I want a country where my children and grandchildren can enjoy electricity 24/7. A country where they will feel safe to move around and interact with people from different cultures and not be afraid of unsafe roads, or even worse getting kidnapped.
We have a role to play, whether we like it or not, whether we choose to do nothing at all or to do something no matter how small and ridiculous it looks today. Tomorrow will be a testament to the kind of people we were. So the next time, you want to make a significant decision, maybe you should think further down the road, about the impact of what you are about to do.
As for me, I would love to leave a legacy of a person who Loved God, and my fellow human beings. To be known as one who loved exploring and learning new things that were beneficial to society.
I would love my descendants to say of me, she lived what she taught, practiced what she preached. She was a woman full of so much love and kindness, she could relate to anyone, and was gracious to everyone as if they were family. Because in the end relationships are more important than any other kind of wealth. Having good relationships with family members and people in your society is a great legacy to leave behind for your children. Because we all need people to be the best they can be.
What about you? What would you like to leave behind as your legacy? A family with wealth yet filled with hatred and animosity against each other, while living in a decaying society that you did nothing to change while you were alive? Or a family filled with love, and happiness, a family that has learnt to share what they have with others, whether it is little or much?