Moments in Nigerian Time

Strawberry Swing – Frank Ocean

I read an article last night, written by someone on the USA Today team, in honor of the people who passed on this year. I realized that in my country, we do not always keep track of stuff, and while this may be a sad post, I think it’s a nice gesture to honor them. I sort of borrowed the title from the article I read (and I hope this is not an infringement on anything). My writing is pretty lousy, but I only have the best intentions, so here goes…

This is hard. I’ve been staring at my screen and the wall behind it, thinking of where to start. I do not have an accurate enough recollection of the tragedies that occurred this year in my country, and I am quite afraid of omitting any. I should leave things like this to the likes of Teju Cole. Anyway, the year started with the Occupy protests against the fuel subsidy removal, and while I do not know if any deaths occurred then, I do know that sometime in that same month, in continuation of previous acts by a certain set of people, there was a blast in Kano. As always, there were innocent victims, snatched unfairly from their families, deprived of the chance to fulfill dreams and promises. I think that was the blast where a reporter died, I’m not quite sure. Of course the bombings continued, leaving destruction, curses and fragments of victims in their wake, and in other supposedly ‘safe’ parts of the country, prayers for safety. At some point in the year, for an alarming number of weeks in a row, there were church bombings every Sunday, these ones had their last moments snatched from them in the presence of their Maker. There was the bombing of the ThisDay office in Abuja, and for some people, Mommy|Daddy|Sibling|Child didn’t come home that night.

There were the domestic accidents, people who exited this planet as a result of jealous lovers, or unpaid loans, and then there were the unfortunate suicides, and people whose bodies succumbed to illnesses they had been fighting for years.

There were famous people, people who, once upon a time, brought joy or added value to a huge part of the nation, by the things they did… from Rashidi Yekini, to Enebeli Elebuwa, and Remi Lagos. I don’t remember or know all of them, I’m sorry.

About crashes, there was the Dana crash that touched almost all of us personally, and the intense grief that followed in its wake. I still say a prayer for Ini’s parents, on behalf of the families represented on that flight. There was the recent one, in which Governor Yakowa, the Rtd Azazi, and their aides, had death meet them on their way back from a funeral. Speaking of death and funerals, there were a number of such instances this year, where people died on their way to and from funerals. There were auto crashes, mostly as a result of poor road maintenance, and reckless driving. But the causes aren’t the point of this post, the point is to somehow honor the people whose lives were taken as a result.

There were the robberies, the unnecessary killings by trigger-happy gunmen and policemen alike, and by ritualists, looking to make a quick buck here or there. I remember in particular, the one who had just gotten married, and then got gunned down for nothing. Of unnecessary killings, there were the 4 boys, murdered by a crowd who decided that the lawful process of punishing evildoers is too slow, or not brutal enough.

Most of the deaths I have tried to chronicle were not peaceful at all, these ones had their last moments snatched from them. No time to make amends with people on earth or the One above, no time to say their last goodbyes, and worst of all, they suffered painful, excruciatingly painful deaths.

Even though I am sure this has been said or written a million times over, I hope each one of us plays whatever part we can, in ensuring that these heartbreaking things do not happen again. Everyone has to die, we know, but being burned alive is not the way to go.

A moment of silence for them if you will.

May the loved ones they left behind someday find peace, if not answers and or/justice, and may they continue to live on in our hearts.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand. 

– Anonymous, Irish

PS: I am sorry if I omitted any, that would be because I either didn’t remember, or never knew about it.


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