So, so much has happened this past week. London burning, and the shame I see on Brits that the looters are letting them down. Now Africans can dare to talk about their uncivilized children too. Well...if the shoe fits??
As we were discussing the riots in the communal kitchen, I exclaimed (not with prejudice) “this madness cannot happen in Nigeria or Africa”. My South African housemate looked at me and started laughing and was like “True, The police would have shot rubber bullets at them that first day and if they persist, hmmm some batons”.
Yeah, Africa knows how to take care of children or adults who want to show themselves (misbehave). Not very lawful, respectful of their human rights and dignity but damn in this kind of madness, it does have its uses.
I only realized how worried I really was when in the middle of dinner yesterday, the spirit moved me and I just dropped my food and started praying for Durham, asking God to protect it and turn the madness away from our little city. My housemate had warned that she saw a number of young men in hoodies milling about the town centre earlier in the day. That was alarming. Nobody walks around Durham town centre in hoodies. Just happy moms and their buggies.
Durham police haven’t seen much action in the past 1 yr if not 10 yrs except a hit and run driver killing a 12yr old cat or 2 drunk guys disturbing the peace on a Friday night. No, I fear that they would not be able to cope. We have so many mom and pop shops, I prayed that these business owners didn’t become victims of wanton destruction. Well, so far nothing. Thanking God.
My girlfriend in Nigeria sent me a message ‘Ginger, better shine your eyes and target some correct designer shop in your High street. Lol.
On another level, yesterday wasn’t a too happy day for me. While I was decrying the madness going on in my host country, I happened upon a video on Nawa4u’s page straight from Nigerian hell. Somebody, a human being created by God, born of a mother, filmed the barbaric burning of 2 men somewhere in Nigeria. From the dousing with fuel to the burning. As I watched mesmerized, unable to click ‘stop’ one part of my brain was trying to convince me that those were two goats not human beings.
What was the rationale behind the video? Voyeurism? Cause the videoing murdering accomplice, filmed only the FEET OF THE MURDERERS. Justice would have been to reveal the FACE of the murderers. That way, if in some future, when this country decides to right itself, injured parties can persecute. People should not take laws into their hands and get away with it!! Our security is non-existence, the police and legal system a sham, the government doesn’t care, So? Should that make us turn on ourselves?
We can’t keep thinking like animals. We are a higher creation. We have hearts, we have brains. We are supposed to be way ahead of animals yet even animals show more mercy to each other. Watch national geographic if you doubt me.
To add salt to injury, I went to TNotes page and there was the video of 3 lesbians being brutalized, raped and sodomised by some
animals men. I had heard about that video. I couldn’t click play. I had cried enough over Nigeria for one day.
I am no preacher but I am talking to YOU reading this, YOU can make a difference. YOU can be your brother’s keeper. YOU can say stop, even if you are in the middle of mad people. We can’t keep living in fear, minding our business.
NIL put up a video about the East London woman who was standing on the streets roundly condemning the looters. Why do you think that video is ‘going viral’? She didn’t stop anyone physically, but she let her voice be heard. That is action. That is bravery. It may seem like ‘a little’ but I can assure you that one or two looters listened and because of her words stopped and went home. That is power. Don’t doubt your power.
I remember one evening in 2003, I was in a danfo bus heading to Dugbe from school (UI). This passenger had an altercation with a policeman over a seat. I can’t recall the exact problem but trust me the policeman had pulled unholy rank which needled the young man. He reproached the policeman reminding him that he was supposed to be an upholder of law. The Policeman was unable to defend his actions and was mumbling his response till the bus approached Sango police station. Then he galvanized into action. His voice became loud and challenging ‘you dare to speak to a policeman rudely, you will see’. He grabbed the young man by the collar, commanding the driver to stop in front of the station. He managed to drag the young man off and the bus driver made to drive off, I was sitting behind him and pulled him sharply on the shirt. I said ‘Driver, we are not going anywhere. We are not leaving that young man behind’.
I was in tee shirt and jeans. Obviously young. Obviously a student. Yet 4 other passengers got up and said ‘She is right. We can’t leave that young man behind to his fate. That policeman was wrong’. The driver had no choice and 13 of us walked into the station.
The DPO noticing the crowd came to ask what was wrong. We explained to him and he sent someone to fetch the police guy and the passenger (they had already taken him to a different part of the station to beat him up). He reprimanded his police officer, apologized and told us to go.
Some of you may think that was a fluke. A miracle. Then believe that more miracles can happen.
Some of you may think that young man was mad, stupid. But I repeat, ‘we can’t keep living in fear’.
That day, I learnt that I had power. That I could make a difference. We all can.
You too can say don’t burn that human being. Let us take him to the police instead
You too can say, ‘don’t beat that boy Police, he did no wrong’
You too can refuse to give that N20/100/200 bribe
You too can say Mother , why are you beating that son so hard, I know he did wrong but there are other ways’
You have to be the change you want to see.
I listened to a commencement speech by Obama to Northwestern University in 2006 when he was still senator. Beautiful speech as always but what struck me especially was when he said that this generation has lost empathy. We don’t feel anymore. ‘It’s not my business’, ‘He deserves it’, ‘He dug his own grave’ etc.
Me, I have a very sensitive conscience. I want to look into the mirror when I come home at night and say ‘I loved my neighbor today’. ‘I cared in spite of the cost‘.
I am not asking for martyrs but your willingness to speak out is sometimes the spark others in the crowd need to help. At other times you may be the lone voice in the wilderness. Embrace the opportunity.
You have to be the change you want to see.