By Debbie Olujobi
Life changing occurrences are those events that change the course of history; they are catalysts of change and signal a turn in destiny; the beginning of a different era. They become a part of history such that time is chronicled as pre or post their occurrence, they tend to affect perception and change how people live.
Natural disasters, wars and disasters are a few of those occurrences that has changed life for different people over time. The loss of a loved one, a benefactor or friend qualifies as life changing since the terrain of reality changes thereafter.
Last sunday will go down in history as one of the darkest in the history of aviation in Nigeria. For those directly involved it was a life changing occurrence. It was a day where we woke up to the news of a nigerian cargo plane crashing on to a bus killing all those in it in neighbouring accra.
Later on, a passenger plane also crashed into a heavily populated area of Lagos killing all on board and so many on the ground. You could say something was in the air if there wasn’t already bloodshed on land as a tanker heavily laden with petrol had earlier exploded on a motorway outside Lagos killing scores of road travellers. I would not class June 3rd 2012 as a great day; it was a day when horror unfolded in the digital world; with ghastly images travelling round the world at the speed of light.
It should have been a sleepy sunday as my only agenda was sleep and food. It was going as planned till my phone rudely interrupted my sleep around 3:40pm. It was my secretary shouting and saying something about a plane taking a part of her mother inlaw’s roof as it crashed a few houses away.
It seemed a bit far fetched and I had tried to verify but for close to an hour nobody knew what had happened. All television stations went on as normal and it was only a security contact that was finally able to confirm the news. Like everyone else who heard the news I did a quick head count of all my loved ones and began the agonising wait for the manifest. By now I should mention that a friend of mine was confirmed on board and I had been trying frantically to reach him on the phone. It was switched off.
A life changing experience is one that breaks perception and opinions; it could be negative or positive. The one that occurred this past sunday was negative; very much so. It was eventually confirmed that I knew 3 people on the plane and my spirits were low. I had sat down a day after looking into the disbelieving eyes of my friend’s daughter and I didn’t have the words of comfort to give her. You see she wasn’t looking for sympathy, she wanted me to agree with her that he could not be dead and that with God all things are possible!! He had promised to be her date at the prom and in her words “My Daddy never breaks a promise”.
I could attest to that; he was a great husband and father and his family meant everything to him. I was torn between a hopeless desperation that there was a faint possibility that she could be right or the grim reality that no one on board survived that crash. This beautiful girl had suffered a life changing occurrence just like other relations of the victims of the crash; the consequences of which will be felt for many years to come.
So here we are again, another crash!! The stories of the victims are pathetic and heart wrenching. There is a lot of huffing and puffing but we have been here so many times that we know not much will come of the threats and promises from the authorities.
There is palpable fear in the air, the skies are not so safe but Sunday proves that neither are our homes!! Some people like me, had the same agenda of food and sleep but were sent to their graves by a plane that fell out of the sky. My melancholy on thursday was interrupted by a message forwarded to me by a friend. It was the opinion of an expatriate and it is worth reading; its an indictment of us all!!
”All their indifference and mad obsession with their own self interest will ultimately come to haunt them. A lack of integrity in all sectors of their lives means that all processes are compromised. Police lending out guns, doctors operating for the sake of the costs associated with it, officials selling free donated drugs meant for the poor, fake medicines being made, no emergency response because contracts awarded and never executed!
Teachers selling exam papers, people importing fake fuel! Soon, their buildings will be falling, bridges will collapse and yet they will still continue to smile and praise themselves for being able to navigate this hell they have created for themselves!
After the Dana crash, I listened to them, not a statement about the ills that have created this crisis, not a single appreciation of the scale of the social ill that engulfs them! Tomorrow they will all go about their normal lives, cheating, lying and looting! Come friday/sunday, they will pray for the deceased and in particular that they themselves do not enter a plane destined to crash!” What a people!!
I don’t know who this expatriate was but the truth of his indictment is plain to see. We can blame the government for our plights but they are a product of this society; a reflection of each and everyone of us. Something has got to give and it had better be soon, life changing events that are this negative should not be the norm.