Traveling from one city to another in Nigeria, you’re likely to come across little towns or villages. From the windows of your vehicle, you can see the not-so-modern houses, cultivated farmlands, a plain-looking school, all bounded by lush landscapes. Also, during your passing, you may be lucky to witness the gentle bustling of rural life. Women, mostly the old ones, could be seen spreading out the corn to dry, whilst the men, mostly the old ones, can be seen with their cutlasses on their way to or from the farm.
In passage, it is quite hard to read the expression on their faces, except you stop to buy roadside commodities; mostly farm produce or hunted game. Then, you’ll realize that they’re mostly very welcoming, and can be very excitable. Traveling by, you can’t help but take in the serenity of these villages, even though you’re just limited to the roadside views. It would appear a simple life—one that is very readily exchanged for the complexities of bigger towns.
There’s more to rural life than what we might see traveling across a village. You’ve probably heard them all, from lack of infrastructures to the dearth of institutions. It is possible that the plain-looking school by the roadside is in fact the only school available for several kilometres. It is possible that the not-so-modern house you saw while driving by is among the best architecture you’ll ever see in the whole village. Most young people leave the rural areas for the already congested urban towns, and they have valid reasons for doing so.
For all the peacefulness of rural areas, there’s a lack of modern innovations to excite the young mind. Also, the lack of employment opportunities has led many away. And, we can’t help but assume that the simplicity of the villages is the reason why they’re so difficult to live in.
Rural life is not the same everywhere, and some places are more comfortable than the others. The allure of them all, however, has always been the natural peacefulness, away from the incessant hustle of city life. The backwardness associated to most rural areas is result of the utter neglect of our natural heritage. It is not the big industries that are needed in villages, neither do they need the latest cars.
All that’s needed are the basic amenities for easy sustenance. And that’s probably why, even in the big cities, there are slums that are almost inhabitable. We have forsaken a part of our own very nature, and the reflection is everywhere. In urban towns, it just happens to be overshadowed by the skyscrapers. The negligence of the basic welfare of our own kind is just more evident in the rural areas, because they have no anxieties to mask their poverty.
Villagers wear no suit, nor do they drive around in big cars to hide the depravity of human nature. And it is easy to quickly blame the government for this, not realizing that many of us are responsible. In Nigeria, young graduates are posted all over the country for one year service. When posted to rural areas, it should be seen as the chance to make a change. In a place where the refusal to make a change is covered up by remoteness, the willingness to do so would bring us closer to our God-given heritage.
As William Cowper wrote, “God made the country, and man made the town”. We are as human and civilized as the most forsaken rural habitat. This is probably why several organizations like the UN are mindful of empowering inhabitants of rural areas, without taking away the tranquil and harmonious allure of rural life.