Thursday, August 11, 2011

Being the Change You Want to See


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.

17 comments:

  1. wow, lovely post as usual Ginger. I have tears in my eyes now..boohoo! :(
    what u did was very brave.. and as for the ppl that burn humans alive, or the video of the 3 lesbians that were beaten, all i can say is WOW. I'll try my best to be the change that we seek.. but it takes more than jst me.

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  2. wow wow wow,this was intense,first,if they sent some Aduma or Bakassi soldiers to those rioters that riot will stop under 4 hours,they are just used to too much grammar,make person land koboko for their back,them go go house.
    serzly,we will never get around to preaching change and how to go about because people are so selfish and self centred,even the few that raise their head do so for some tiny benefits,they forget that some were meant to change while some where meant to be changed,they don't know that they are also digging their own graves,well,lemme not start but may God help us.
    you sef,you come sound like Obama,thunps up

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  3. This post just touched me on some many levels. I'm deeply disturbed, from the setting people on fire video which i refused to watch, to the lesbians video which i am still traumatized by months after watching it. Too many things happen in Nigeria which i am bothered by and feel powerless to change. Of course, i'll do my little part any way i can, but on the grand scale of things......it's just sad sha.

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  4. I'll go read your post in a minute but you have an award over at my place http://i-madge-ine-the-twaddle.blogspot.com/

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  5. Ginger you're so right. My heart was heavy as I was reading this. We mind our business and live in fear instead of speaking out. Imagine if each person decides to speak out, that will be a multitude of people speaking out and causing change. I love the fact that you spoke up in the case of the young boy. I can imagine what his fate would have been if you didn't.

    The Bible says the love of many will grow cold in the last days and I think that's what we're seeing. But truth is, it doesn't stop us from being the light in the darkness; it doesn't stop us from standing out from the crowd and speaking up for what's right; it doesn't stop us from being the change we want to see. I'll definitely do that even if i'm the lone voice in the wilderness..God helping me

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  6. My dear Ginger. May you continue to grow in wisdom. Amen. I admire the way you spoke up for the young boy. This reminds me of the saying: 'Evil prospers when good men do nothing'

    I really do doubt the riots will come to Durham. It seems to happen in areas with pockets of 'deprivation'

    I like Obama's speech also.

    Re: Nigeria...the barbarity is so much. I couldnt watch those videos but my friends told me about them - in great detail! And to think this happens daily. Unfortunately, when you lament anything about Nigeria - and Africa - one is called unpatriotic.

    Stay blessed, stay safe.

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  7. I literally had goose bumps as I read the later part of your post, wow, you'll rival Obama in speech giving you know? :)

    Seriously though, I totally agree with you. I'm def not a matyr, nor do I want to be but sometimes, I can't just walk away. I hope some lessons are being learnt from what's going on.

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  8. I really enjoyed this post. I went over to Tnotes and wept after watching that video. Sick - shows we're still in the dark ages when it comes to issues of liberty and personal freedoms.

    I agree with your stance that we have a voice. it is true - every person has been given a heart to empathize with their neighbours, yet many have chosen to disregard their humanity. the riots in the u.k are an eyesore. I hope they don't happen in your cute little town which sounds so quaint.

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  9. I watched the lesbian video and cried a little but i am sure i will never watch the other one. It's just crazy how these things happen. People are becoming demonic by the minute. They aint waiting for God's judgement anymore. You are so right. The change we want must start with us individually. We must speak up against all these bad and totally crazy things.

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  10. Don't like a post making me feel sober!!!But very well well and truly said.
    Lol@"...target some correct designer shop in your High street."

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  11. Very inspiring but touchy post. I was discussing a similar but slightly different issue with my wife only yesterday about how we are increasingly becoming isolated especially those of us living in the west. People seem very suspicious of each other and we don't really look out for each other.

    The way forward is for those of us that are relatively successful in whatever we do, to act as mentors to those in our communities especially young people. Something I've started doing which I've also launched on my blog and would very much welcome anyone interested on board.

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  12. Ginger, you are a "Stand Up Woman" and as such you will make more change in the world than you even realize. I am so proud of you! And I love you very much. Mom

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  13. Not only are your points very valid, you seem to be the kind of person I am in the face of injustice.

    Yes it gets tiring but I just cant find it in me to walk by when certain acts of barbarism are on display.

    I am sorry I dont watch those kind of videos anymore, i just cant..It makes me feel helpless that there is nothing I can do while hearing the victims scream, (obviously) in pain. If God is real (Which I believe he is) then He just have to fight for the helpless because its uncanny how much of exrajudicial killing, raping, looting etc are going on every single minute.Helpers just cant keep up!!

    God help us all

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  14. Wow you showed great courage in standing up for that boy as a youngster, well done.
    It is very important that we help out our fellow man and do whatever part we can, however I think it is important to be prudent in how we do this and when to do this so as not to put ourselves under some kind of risk.

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  15. I lost my comment (sobs). I love the passion with which you wrote this. If we can only speak out and not cower in fear, then our voice will be more powerful. We only have to do it in unity and not in isolation, so as not to get into trouble.

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  16. Mehn Ginger! You know what's up - your words and the way you capture it. This post is really touching and inspiring, thanks for sharing it. Hope you are okay

    Adiya
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