Denrele Animasaun from London
Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.-VACLAV HAVEL
The crash of Dana Air flight 0992, which killed over 160 people on Sunday in Lagos, came right of the blue( I mean it is not like we expecting to hear of air crash though one has occurred flying from Nigeria to Ghana).
It was actually more closer to home because it was closer to home, the family home was not far from the Dana crash site. You do the usual; call everyone you know at Lagos and in Abuja, then your thoughts turn to those who were on the flight.
I looked on line to get an update. It was carnage. The lives lost on board and those on the ground ran into over 150 and still counting. Although Nigeria’s air safety record has improved in recent years, the country has a history of major passenger plane crashes – this is the fourth crash in the last decade in which more than 100 people each were killed.
The BBC’s Will Ross in Lagos says although some could still be buried under the rubble, so far the emergency teams have found six additional bodies – a remarkably low number given that it is a densely populated city.
An NCAA investigation into the cause of the crash is under way, and both the flight data and the voice recorder have been recovered. Then as the story unfolds, you read that the fire brigade’s hose had inadequate water to doze the fire so resident were using buckets.
I checked my Face book page to find there were people close to the crash site who were updating us. Then of course, there were conspiracy theories and recriminations. That the airline put profit before people, that the plane was not up to standard; that aviation ministry has incompetent and under qualified personnel; that money to improve fleet was diverted.
“(The aircraft) was not supposed to leave Lagos at all, but it left and then got to Calabar, had fault and it was fixed. And then they took it to Abuja, when they should have returned to Lagos but because they didn’t want to part with the little money they will make; they took it to Abuja, loaded full passengers, and then it couldn’t get to Lagos.” And of course, it dredged up so many failings in the public and private structures, many of it justified.
One of the recurring reactions from some the FB pages, blogs was the flurry of condolences, they identified friends and family. They also made it more close to home as they were people with families, friends who then put pictures to faces. Then this rammed it home even more so.
Something alarming emerged amongst the outpouring of emotions. Those who repeatedly call for readers to pray for Nigeria, that Nigerians aren’t praying enough. They need to fast and so on. Then the ones laying the blame on the corrupt government, politicians the incompetent officials. Then there was the blame the Diasporas for bad mouthing Nigeria rather than offering solution. There were lots of opinions in diverging camps. In the midst of this we lost focus about the crash and loss of lives.
I am afraid, I lost it! I was not alone but I had to respond, so respond I did . I explained to these readers that about time we got up from our knees and pray with our feet; that we cannot expect to be docile and helpless in a matter such as this. We need collective intervention. About time people took their hands off their mouths, ears, and eyes!
Apathy, helplessness, hopelessness and general fear has crippled our nation while some frozen at the spot where they pray. Others work towards progress while they pray, you see God is everywhere and he listens. I felt that we have been so apathetic for so long in the way that we deal with anything, everything.
We are aware that we have been receiving substandard service and treatment and yet we wait for divine intervention. If Rosa Parks was Nigerian, am sure she would not have got up for a white person to sit, because she feels that she should pray and before she then act.
Her decision inspired a young man ,Martin Luther King jr, to mobilise like minded people of different shades and persuasion to make change. And they said then it could not happen but it did! This small but brave changed a whole generation and we feel the gift even now. Martin Luther King Jr. quoted: We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.
And he also said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbour will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others”
Well, I for one, put in my six penny’s worth. I did explain that the ills of Nigeria needs collective intervention not divine intervention, after all, God helps those who help themselves. I was perceived by the “pray for Nigeria brigade “as someone who had no faith. I believe in God and I know that God has nothing to do with what happen on the fateful Sunday. The weather was good, the plane was close to the airport when it radioed in that there was engine problem.
As far as it has been established, the plane had some repair issues. On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan declared three days of national mourning and promised improvements to air safety after he visited the plane crash, with the Governor of Lagos.
In the space of four days I have observed that some people have gone through David Kessler & Elisabeth Kübler- Ross’s the five stages of Grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance . It seems that people have undergone some mass hysteria, some of warranted and some misplaced. Let me explain for the shock, there was recriminations, anger and fear , hopelessness.
We have become so weather worn, emotionally battled scarred ,so traumatised that we have lost the means to cope with life and loss. What happened last weekend has been tragic but also there have been a series of incidents in Lagos within a short space of time , the Dana Crash was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
In the meantime, on the Dana site they had this; “The Dana Air family is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the passengers and crew of Flight 9J-922 of Sunday, June 3, 2012. The aircraft, with Registration Number 5N-RAM, departed Abuja for Lagos with 146 passengers on board.
“One Dana Air Flight Engineer, two Pilots and four Cabin Crew were also aboard the flight.We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased and we are doing everything we can to assist them in this extremely difficult time. A 24hr Call Centre service has been initiated and we have also set up an information centre at MMA2 to look after their needs and keep them as quickly informed as possible”.
An investigation into the cause of the accident got under way immediately, under the guidance of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), who are being assisted by investigators from the U.S. National Safety Transportation Board (NTSB). Dana Air is cooperating fully and assisting the investigation in every possible way.
May I suggest the best thing we say to someone in grief; I am so sorry for your loss, I wish I had the right words, just know I care. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in any way I can. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers. My favourite memory of your loved one is…I am always just a phone call away.