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Nigeria at 50

Nigeria turned 50 last week. It’s been a turbulent fifty, a time of great success and more than a few crushing defeats. The paradoxes of the last 50 years were captured during independence festivities in Abuja last Friday, as thousands gathered in Nigeria’s capital to celebrate 50th Independence Day with food and fireworks, only to flee in horror when two car bombs exploded outside the Ministry of Justice, killing twelve.

The occasion of Nigeria’s 50th birthday provided many news outlets and commentators with the hook they needed to perform an autopsy of Nigeria’s history, with the usual analysis of Nigeria’s successes (its literary icons, its contemporary status as peacekeeper and stabilizer of West Africa), and its many failures (the oft-mentioned 419 email scams and the Biafran War among them).