(I had been writing parts of this since 2001. However, I published this in 2016 in response to the 2011 post-election violence in Nigeria and the surrounding events, which according to human rights watch resulted in the death of at least 800 people, including young people serving as part of the National Youth Corps – Okeoma, Obinna, Precious and Seun.)
President Muhammadu Buhari has proved to be a passable President for Nigeria. Not stellar. There are some things he has not done too badly. At the 2015 elections we had to make a choice between the devil and the other devil. But remember that after the elections in 2011, Buhari reacted with silence, when Pro-Buhari protesters took to the streets to express their displeasure by killing people, Buhari remained silent. I will remember that. Always.
Remember that across the world, in the US, Asia, Europe and the UK, there is tacit support for violence. Remember that the guilty ones are not only those that strike a blow, but those who whip up fear and hatred and panic based on differences in race or religion, country or creed. The guilty ones are not only those who would take a human life, but also those who would remain silent when humanity is reduced to the politics of anger and wrath. Remember that.
Our silence is tacit support for violence and our right to air our grievances is apparently worth more than innocent lives. Buhari was silent. And I will not forget that. I will never forget that. Neither should you. No human is a saint, but neither should we be forgetful in the face of the trivialisation of human life. When you want to lead a country, you must aim to be a leader for ALL the country or you do not lead at all. We cannot forget that some people stood by while young lives burned. But most of all let us remember, that hate will always, always destroy and love will always deliver. May man terrify no more.
I wrote the second part of this in 2001, thinking of the holocaust, apartheid, slavery and genocide as the worst of humanity. But as more human lives are lost, I keep writing. The nature of humanity never seems to change….
For Okeoma, Obinna, Precious, Seun and all the Innocent
‘The shouts of the violent rise up in the desert sands,
Their bulging eyes unleash the terror in the hearts,
The terror in their hands, their machetes, their guns, their hatred, innocent blood.
Blood flows through the streets of the city, mingles with the dust,
Mingles with age old blood, shed down the ages,
In the name of religion, politics, money and power,
At its root – hatred, wickedness and needless anger – greed,
And in the forest lands and the Savannah, people weep, no more sleep,
Their arms empty and bereft, as the bloated earth swallows more bodies into its deep.
May man terrify no more.
The answer: we look up to God and take our stand
‘For people lie broken in our land,
For those who would break the oppressed in their hands
God hear the desires of the needy from where they lie.
Please encourage them and listen to their cry.
Defend the fatherless and those of lowly birth,
In order that wicked man, who is of this earth,
May terrify no more.’