Authors: Ihejirika Francis, Agoro Oyindamola.
Yes! I say it again, the human nature is heartless! I wonder why I wasn’t born a Martian. It could have been far much better. That’s if Martians really exist. We are all guilty of this heartlessness one way or the other, directly or indirectly.
I have been fortunate enough to be at a bomb blast site when an explosion went off. Yes, fortunate because I began to appreciate human life more than ever; and from a very young age too. The memory seems to have become my shadow all of a sudden even after taking deliberate steps to clear my head. It seems to get worse with each passing day due to the numerous cases of insurgency all over the world. Nigeria, Syria, Afghanistan to mention a few have become targets for these heartless individuals.
I speak not only for/to my people but to the world. I am the voice of the voiceless and cry out to all who care to listen.
I am a Nigerian child. I have lived in my beloved country all my life and have finally established an inseparable link with my immediate environment. I see the tears in the eyes of my people; the pain, the suffering, the psychological trauma, the emotional and physical torture caused by unfortunate events and men of the underworld but I am unable to do anything. On the contrary, I have contributed to these. No, “we” have contributed.
One thing I have always admired about this country apart from its natural resources, favourable weather and rich cultural heritage is its people. Nigerians have to be the most comical yet practical people on earth. Meeting a Nigerian for the first time, you can be sure to be doubled over by laughter at some point in the conversation. Such is the natural humour of our people. We always manage to say the funniest things and come up with the most hilarious terms for everything. This must be one defense mechanism God has given us to cope with the harsh realities of this country.
However, the other side of the coin doesn’t seem to glitter as much as this. Late Fela Kuti was right when he said our people are simply “suffering and smiling”. The heart of an average Nigerian conceals more worries and troubles than happiness that are powerful enough to send him to early grave. He is of the impression that his worries are his and his alone and therefore he should solve them himself and not partake in those of others too.
He does not believe in all that fantastical nonsense of “a problem shared is half solved”. That saying is, if not absolutely, partially foreign to him. He is his own man; independent, strong and self-motivated. “Every man for himself” is the Naija mantra. Nigerians, such practical, sensible people.
Unfortunately, this “gift” of ours is apparently going to be the death of us. It is quite sad and disheartening that we have taken this practicality quite far; maybe far too far. It has evolved and been reborn over the years and is still being passed down to generations even those yet unborn to finally become what is now referred to as “The Nigerian Mentality”.
In the 21st century, roughly every citizen of most countries of the world, mine inclusive, watches the rest of the world with a sense of detachment which is supposed to be the exact opposite. We listen to the gory stories of war in Afghanistan, insurgency in Cameroon, flooding in Japan, Ebola in Liberia, Mass Kidnapping in Nigeria and so many others and then quickly forget about them as soon as the lights go out or the smallest celebration sets in.
We read about the numerous massacres, violent protests and bomb blasts in the papers before shoving it in the corner and going about our businesses as if all is well, unconsciously saying a silent prayer of gratitude in our hearts to the Creator. “Thank God it wasn’t me” or “thank God my mother was not affected” are common examples.
Exclamations of “wow”, “gees”, “damn” and “awwn” go up in the air for a few seconds to show surprise and sympathy but after that what next?
Remember it was a fellow human being; someone who had woken up to a new day with unfulfilled dreams and family members to care for but suddenly is no more. Bear in mind it could have been you. Well, someday we will all be gone. Death is a necessary evil.
The stories of the young, promising University of Lagos student, Oluchi who was electrocuted and three years old Aylan Kurdi, the young migrant who lost his life fleeing his crises torn country have been making the rounds lately but as usual will only last a short while and then be forgotten. Remember that they had names, they had homes, they had families and they had dreams but losing their lives in such pitiable manners was not one. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace.
We seem to have forgotten the Chibok girls kidnapped by the in-human soldiers of the terrorist group, Boko Haram over 500 days ago. These girls happened to be at the right place and at the right time for the right reasons but somehow were met by evil. It wasn’t their fault, was it? Who knows what would have happened to them? Are they still alive? If they are, how skinny would they look now? Many questions piled up yet no answers.
Who knows how many of such stories are out there in the small villages and towns unheard of? How many of us have ever stopped to offer prayers for them? Many have not! We pray for divine protection for ourselves alone. Again, I tell you, it could have been anyone.
I’m not trying to be judgmental here. It would be hypocritical for me to be because I have been guilty of this “crime” on more than one occasion.
Nonetheless, we need to take drastic action to curb this ever growing monster that seems to be finding its way deep down into the nucleus of our being, into the chromosomes of humans. In short, we are losing our humanity.
“Many of us have resorted to pointing fingers at others for failures, even those that we contribute to. This, in our opinion, serves as a palliative” – Ihejirika Jonathan. This is rightly so because we seem to find comfort in hanging the basket of problems on the neck of the government but we have forgotten that we are the government. “Government of the people, by the people and for the people”, remember that?
Rightly put in the best way possible – “The problem we face in our society is not corruption in government facets. It is confidence, or as the case may be, lack thereof. We grossly underestimate ourselves and the power we possess” – Agoro Oyindamola.
Many will say, “I have things to worry about too. I feel sorry for whoever it is but it is really none of my business”. But then imagine your daughter in the shoes of that unfortunate girl lying stone-cold dead in the morgue after being electrocuted or your son in the circumstance of the young boy whose life was only but beginning getting drowned in the seas. Horrible picture right? But that’s somebody’s fate at the moment.
I can guess what you’re doing at the moment – performing the traditional rite of preventing evil: snapping two fingers above your head and casting it backwards and followed by the words “God forbid”, “Tufia” or “Olorun ma je”. After doing that, remember that it still could have been a loved one.
I don’t mean to sound sermonizing but it’s high time we were made to understand a few truths. Sometimes we have to put aside our own worries and problems to help others solve theirs. It shouldn’t be all about “me, myself and I” all the time. Offer help by your works and not by words of mouth alone.
Having said all the above, many will argue: “I am just an ordinary citizen. What could I possibly do?” You don’t have to be the President of America or the Queen of England before you can offer a helping hand. A prayer can go a long way too.
Say a prayer for the suffering, the needy and the dead.
And please #BringBackOurGirls.