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The trouble with Nigerians

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By Denrele Animasaun

You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.” — Malcolm  X

Last week, Wednesday, evil visited the streets of South East London and in broad daylight too. The news came in trickles so as not to alarm people; it was in the evening that the full horror of the event was unleashed as we watched a surreal still picture of a young man clutching a bloodied cleaver and knife. It was very horrific, gruesome and shocking. Across the street, you could catch glimpse of a body lying on the floor. It was the lifeless body of drummer Lee Rigby, a serving soldier in the British army.

So there we were, watching the news when we heard and saw that the killers were two young black men, then we were told that they  were extremists.So as the night wore on, information filtered through that they were Nigerians. Like lightening the rumour mill went on overdrive, the condemnations and derision began. Eventually, the press had identified the young men and this was when the full vilification grew.

Many Nigerians took to the social networks not so much as to condemn the crime, but to tell one another of their displeasure that these Nigerians had tarnished their image. So I ask you if two Nigerians committed these gruesome crime so does that make all Nigerians guilty? Or does it make all Muslims guilty? Or all men guilty? I think not. So why are Nigerians making so much fuss whether they are Nigerians or not, or whether they are British-Nigerians, Yoruba or Muslim? A crime is a crime, no matter who commits it. It seems that Nigerians are more concerned that a Nigerian is seen in a bad light and in full view of the world and they are angry that they are been tarnished. They hate to lose face and that matters the

Excuse me, a crime was committed and all they could say about is these young men who happen to be Nigerians that they have besmirch their image. This is the trouble with Nigerians; we are quick to remove ourselves when we feel ashamed, insulted and so we disassociate ourselves by removing  whatever the offending person and revert behind  tribal lines, religious lines and patriotic lines. We have misplaced morals and instead of learning from incidents such as this, we avoid dealing with the problem, we are quick to play the blame game and pass the buck. There is  only  so  much we play the avoidance tactics, one day we will have  to  come  face  to  face  with  ourselves and  our problems.

So in order not to  lose face these two men, Michael Adebolaja and  Michael Adebowale, say are not Nigerians because they are born in Britain and that makes them British.So, whatever they have done, some Nigerians reasoned that then they  must  be British problem.

The Nigerian High Commissioner to United Kingdom, Dr Dalhatu Tafida, declared that these killers should be brought to justice according to the law irrespective of their nationality, that: “Even if they are Nigerians or my own children I will disown them and I expect the government to deal with them according to the law. I was shocked and disgusted when I heard the news. Whoever has the audacity to kill someone and stand out proudly as if they have done something majestic must face the law.”

What can I say? Do we deal with all our problems by throwing it away or instead should we not be exploring what might have gone wrong so that we can learn from it, and then make necessary adjustments. If we don’t do that we are bound to make the same mistake over and over again, thus, we will never learn and move forward.

I really am uncomfortable that people are more concerned that these young people are British Nigerians rather, than the fact that these are disturbed, misguided, miscreants who have committed cold blooded murder. For what they did I would have expected Nigerians to be   appalled and shocked at the crime committed and whatever they thought of the young men should be secondary. I believe that some people are convinced that whenever one Nigerian does anything bad it reflects on all Nigerians. Stop blaming others for what you have or don’t have, or for what you feel or don’t feel. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny your responsibility and perpetuate the problem.

Blaming is a game we are so good at, it is a sorry excuse and making excuses is the first step towards failure; it seems we do that a lot. Do I feel ashamed that they are Nigerians like myself? No, like anywhere else in the world, there are good and bad people and these men were rotten to the core. They do not represent me or my family or my friends and anyone that tars all Nigerians with the same brush, do not care to know all Nigerians and so, will be making a judgement that defines who they really are: prejudiced.

You cannot be responsible for every Nigerian that acts out of the norms and values of our host countries. We, and I mean those who work closely with the community in the UK are  dealing with the aftermath everyday by ensuring that  we  stand  shoulder to  shoulder with the  rest of the law abiding people; that we will not accept terror on our streets or anywhere else for that matter,  no  matter who commits the crime .

What I am so impressed about is that different people from all races have come together to denounce this crime and we as community leaders are ensuring that we act fast to identify any other young people who may be susceptible to take to this misguided and disruptive path.  Let open a dialogue; provide a productive and constructive way so that they are nurtured to use their talents, skills and build a better future for themselves and their loved ones. We do not want to condemn any young person to the rubbish heap; this is where the resentment set in. What we want for them is for them to contribute positively to the country.

In my area, the police have doubled their presence in a supportive way to reassure people that they are working together with the black community; that they are being responsible and supportive to those in the community that may need the visibility of the police force. So, for those Nigerians who are quick to speculate and condemn a whole generation in one quick swoop: I say to you, please think and act responsibly.   cringe worthy.

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