When Abdulmutallab burst onto the international scene, Nigerians of every walk of life were quick to label him an aberration, an anomaly in Nigerian life. But the continuing violence in Nigeria makes a mockery of our protestations; the only difference between Abdulmutallab and our Nigerian violence being location and race of intended victims.

Terror can be defined as “Violence committed or threatened by a group to intimidate or coerce a population, as for military or political purposes.” To deny that violence is not a part of Nigerian daily life is to deny life as a Nigerian.

The violence of NEPA officials or MOPO or Student Unionists, or Student forces of darkness is undeniable. Our roads are violent; the government’s refusal to make our roads motor-able is a case in point. Some years ago hundreds were killed in Lokoja, when a massive lorry ploughed into the market place. This is not the only danger, some time ago, highwaymen asked for a luxurious bus to drive over impecunious commuters crushing them beneath its wheels. The resulting carnage, is reminiscent of hell. I imagine that the terror those people were placed in was more than the instant combustion of a jetliner, though neither is defensible.

Our homes are violent, each day a new set of gory pictures of dead spouses are published on social media. These images of violence are met with curses and indignant cries blaming everyone but ourselves. We are the ones who have created a society in which one is expected to abide with violence everywhere.

And then there are the images from across the country, images that show that one human being knowingly and without compunction decimates another than sets him/her/them alight remorselessly reducing the worth of human life way below the worth of cattle. Let us not forget the Niger-Delta where human life has been reduced to bargaining chips by the militants and collateral damage by the oil companies. The idiots in government gleefully hold on to power, scampering for booty like mentally deficient fowls chasing a mirage. Their demented eyes rotating in their diseased heads like a one eyed man organising a rave, seeking for more loot to appease their flatulent, gluttonous and insatiable greed, blood dripping from their malevolent lips as they devour the life-blood of a people.

No. Terror is not an anomaly in Nigeria and each day we live is a gift. Violence is not an aberration, but each moment we are free from it is a blessing. Despite all this I still have cause to celebrate, for despite the carnage, hope remains, despite the violence, some peace remains and despite death we remain, unresting, questing, hopeful. I celebrate Nigeria’s people and I ask that we do not give up hope. Let us rejoice in the pockets of human generosity, let us delight in the kindness of strangers and let us retreat from violence. I ask that we be proactive in changing Nigeria. I ask that we choose peace, I ask that we choose charity, I ask that we choose life.

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African woman, lawyer, teacher, poet and researcher. Singer of songs, writer of words, very occasional dancer of dances. I seek new ways of interpreting the African experience within our consciousness to challenge static ideology.


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