Friday, June 22, 2012

Holding a Nation to Ransom

As has become customary, the murderous Islamist group, Boko Haram, attacked three churches in Kaduna state on Sunday, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Also, in what is becoming a saddening routine, youth affiliated to the Christian faith carried out reprisal attacks on nearby mosques and many innocent Muslims got caught up in the ensuing violence.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Death And A Mourning Nation

Before that Dana plane crashed into a tenement building in Iju-Ishaga suburb of Lagos, Nigerians died in the hundreds every day. They died on the road, victims of bad roads or the highwayman’s bullet. They died in their homes, bodies riddled with bullets fired by armed robbers. They died in churches and mosques, victims of those who say evil deeds can be used to achieve godliness. They died across Nigeria, untimely and unpleasant deaths, victims of a government’s insistence on continuing paying lip service to progressive social development.
While some of these untimely taken belong to the class people have come to believe are elites, the larger percent are masses, the new age commoners, without renown beyond their immediate environment, these ones are not mourned by the nation. No media adverts extol their qualities, no social media buzz is generated around their pictures, no websites are created to tell about their lives and the deep pain their passing wrought on those they left behind. Nothing is heard of them other than the wailing of relatives and friends, and that too is soon muted as the world winds on. While the government habitually gives last warnings to those who kill the masses and promise to fix the roads that mangle their flesh and suck their blood, the dead are buried, sometimes in mass graves, their deaths in vain still, unknown in life, silent in death.
However, these are the nameless dead, the ones without keys to the fabled rainbow’s end. Their fate is not for those who could zip around in airplanes. For these ones, the passing is loud, with a nationwide call to tears.
It is common street knowledge that planes are not for the poor, even those who eat three solid meals with meat to spare have nothing to do with it. For many of us, it is a privilege to travel from Lagos to Abuja on a plane. Why not, the cost of a one-way ticket is more than the national minimum wage. So it is a testament to the privilege and position of the victims of the Dana Air crash, at least those on the plane proper, that the buzz generated by their fate remains at giddying heights, or how else would fellow elites and wannabes mourn the passing of their peers?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Democracy: An African burden

English: The King of Swaziland Mswati III at t...
English: The King of Swaziland Mswati III at the reed dance festival 2006 where he will choose his next wife.. Deutsch: Der König von Swasiland Mswati III bei dem Reed Dance Festival 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Uneasy, they say, lies the head that wears the crown. That adage, apt for a time when kings were a law unto themselves, when they had the power over life and death, still finds strong expression in this age.

These days, kings, except they are of Middle Eastern or Asian stock (let’s add Swaziland to the number), are largely without the powers to decide the fate of a nation. The powers that made them all-powerful in the past now reside with the commoners; or so it would seem.

Nations, having shed that feudal system that perpetuates the lordship of one family over the whole generation after generation, have now generally embraced the one that allows people to have a say on who rules over them. People now have the liberty to put their views to vote and the purview to remove a leader that is not working up to par—in an ideal scenario.  Democracy, the system of having a say in the selection of one’s leaders, in its ideal sense, is one that cannot be faulted.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A black Sunday in a Nation already in darkness

The first news of a suicide bomber attacking a church during Sunday service was not strange or overly surprising, not in a nation already used to bomb blasts and the attendant casualty rate.  The second news, of a plane ramming into a Lagos suburb, was more alarming and elicited more than the resigned “not again” that greeted the first. With social media abuzz, two things struck me: The plane crashed in Iju Agege and the proximity of my house from the scene.