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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.

University of Port Harcourt students brutally beaten and burnt alive

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.

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