By Denrele Animashaun
All major religious traditions carry basically the same message that is love, compassion and forgiveness … the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”- Dalai Lama
It has not been the best of times, in fact it has been the worst of time. It seems that not a day goes by that more bad news of atrocities are displayed in the news for us to digest. This diet is so bad for our psychological health not to talk of our physical health. The massacre that shook Mubi, a university town and commercial hub in north-eastern Nigeria, reverberated through the Nigerian community in the UK and am sure more so in Nigeria.
When I heard the news of Mubi and then, Uniport, my heart sunk even further. You see, no matter how much you hear such news over a period of time that one conditions one’s mind to deal with the events by making all the necessary mental adjustment without affecting one so adversely.
But, it does not get any better, in fact I did not think it could get any worse but it has. Where does our country draw the line on bad news and wanton atrocities? You cannot close yourself off to your surroundings. So you learn to filter out the gruesome and the not too gruesome and you learn to feign, shrug it off and gather your composure and then,you anxiously wait for the next bad news.
The death of the students in higher institution of learning is bad enough but for the reasons why they were killed is beyond me and any sane person. I have never felt so much revulsion like I felt when I heard the news and long after this shocking sinking feeling remains.
Frankly speaking, the lynching and burning of four young men, should send shivers down the conscience of our people. The way that the young students were killed in Mubi was not the act of angry, irate people but an heinous crime by home grown psychopaths. Once we have crossed the line of what is commonly accepted as the norm then the country needs to take a long hard look at its citizens.
Alas, the excuse that the voyeurs have is, that the dead deserve what they got as the authority would not do anything to enforce the rule of law. The question I have for these people is whether lynching is an alternative? Where do you draw the line to common decency and respect for human life? I have always prided our country as having some moral, cultural modernity and backbone that excluded us from the mob mentality. I was wrong. The morality valve has been missing or eroded over time and we have ourselves to blame.
I have been banging on about the politicians consigning our young ones to the rubbish heap and it is evident that the youths have no stake in their own future. They have had no moral role-model; all they see around them are grand thefts, corruptions, murders, violence, no opportunities, inadequate education and insecurities,absolutely no right to thrive from the onset and we expect for them to know how to behave? We have failed them and so badly too.
I see the finger pointing has begun and the young are blamed for the ills in Nigeria . When are we going to apportion the blame and realise that we have created the monster and we all need to start from the home and lead by example. Take a good hard look at ourselves and let us at least try to attempt to unravel what exactly happened and how we can work together to ensure such nefarious acts does not happen again.
We need to invest in our young; to invest in their education , training and employment to prepare them for a better future and equip them with a good conscience. Right now, we have not prepared them for a positive future other than a dim existence. We have a government that has lost the will to lead, that has continued to protect its self–interest.
“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”- Chinua Achebe
I have not bought my copy of the book so I cannot make any comment on its contents. what I however, find disconcerting is,some people’s attitude to the fact, that Chinua Achebe had the gall to have an opinion and write it in a book!
If people disagree, by all means say so. What I do find is we go off the boil and go as far insulting his character, his literary integrity and his tribe in one quick swoop. This is disrespectful and dismissive the way we react to people who have a different view to ourselves .
This is not the first book written and no mean the last; some not so good , some good and a few written by non – Nigerians! So therefore, by condemning a view because we disagree with it, will ultimately close doors to the growth of a cohesive society and it seem we want to create a place where only yes people will exist.
I have heard personal stories of the war, each gruesome than the next. Though I was small during the war , I remembered vividly the bombardments in Lagos. My father, a journalist also , covered the war and he saw and wrote about the causalities of war on both sides. The war is what we have not talked about; it has prevented us from moving forward.
Those who experienced it, have the memory seared in their souls. We cannot forget, nor have even forgiven each other for the tragedy either. One of the reasons why we do everything fight, argue and create mayhem but we stop at the threat of another civil war is the trauma. If anything, Chinua Achebe rightly or wrongly has made people talk of the war and the wounds are still raw. Let us be open and honest to have a discussion and a way forward.
Sadly ,we revert to form when we cast people aside along tribal lines ,we turn our backs on people who, may have cast aspersions about someone we admire or revered is a great disservice. It is not fair when we claim them as our own only when they please us ! A bit of decorum is needed please, so we do not lose the essence of the event. The War happened and a lot of people suffered and died. The rule of engagement differs in time of war than in time of peace. Remember that.