An Orange a Day Keeps the Doctor Away is the anthem we should sing to help our economy and our health. I understand the metallic or artificial counterpart to the Apple as the sign of the capitulation of our economy to neo liberal economics is used or Tokunbo cars. We see them arrayed along every main road and street, and often right in front of the neighbor’s house turned overnight into a used car sale depot. Since brand new vehicles are out of the reach for ordinary citizens, we rejoice to be able to buy a 10-15-year-old tokunbo, and would even go to dedicate it to God with praise and thanksgiving and merriment. But as with the ubiquitous but harmless looking — indeed, healthy apple — every purchase takes away dollars unseen. Yes, we pay for the apple and the tokunbo car in Naira, but the importers do so in dollars. Hence our current value-of-the-naira tragedy. Which would not be the case if only there were an equal exchange of produce, say for every imported red delicious apple we also exported a sweet golden orange.
When the only thing we do substantially export, crude oil, was selling for over one hundred dollars a barrel, and there were enough green-backs to service our acquired tastes, there appeared to be no problem. At any rate, the national economic logic says, import or die! Without a rail-based mass transit program — not to be confused with transport by minibuses — and with our minds now trained to believe that an imported temperate fruit trumps all of our tropical offerings, what are we to do? After all, didn’t we learn it in school that an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Was it ever said that an orange or a mango a day does the same wonderful thing? And did anyone tell us that the choice of the apple was arbitrary, being metaphorical, since it could well have been any other temperate fruit: pear, peach, apricot, plum, cherry, blackberry, etc? That the point really was to urge the eating of a fruit a day, and that some would even swear that the Kiwi or Chinese gooseberry, not the apple, is the wonder-fruit?
Not to forget the point. We are not keeping the doctor away by importing apples in shiploads. On the contrary, the apple has come to symbolize our complete dependency syndrome, our incurable appetite for what we do not produce. How long before we understand that an apple a day converts our Naira to dollars and keeps our money, not the doctor, away? Its time we repeat everyday to ourselves and to the children: an orange a day keeps the doctor away and our money at home.