Greetings my people. I can be partly honest with you and say that the month of May came and left me with little time to write an article but let us leave that story for another day. This month is different, I have dedicated time to what I would like to share. If you know me well enough, I find the individual more interesting than politics and prefer to think of fictional characters while the world sorts itself out. However, this month I thought a little more about the individuals whose lives have been affected by the politics of our blessed country; the ones who have unknowingly inspired me by dying at the hands of this country. It is for this reason that I would like to write about 2 Nigerians who have shaped my idea of what it means to stand for a cause at the cost of life.
I had just turned twelve when Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by Abacha and although my mind was filled with plans about smaller issues, there was a grave feeling that something bad had happened. I remember talking to my sister about the ramifications of his execution. We were going to be suspended from Commonwealth, she told me. My twelve year old mind interpreted that statement to mean that we were going to be shunned by the international community for doing something we had no control over. Looking back, this execution was the first sign of frustration with my childhood love. I remember joking with a friend years later about having no idea why Ken Saro Wiwa was executed, we laughed at our ignorance and moved on with life. But as I look back and reflect on this man’s life, I don’t find anything funny about my ignorance. His legacy is a good story for those who have questioned my ability to influence by virtue of the fact that I am African. It is from a voice that is muffled in this age of the “let us save the poor Africans” syndrome; a voice of the empowered African. Here we have a writer and successful business man who challenged the tense political climate (no pun intended) of Abacha’s era in the interest of the environment.
The one we wake up everyday to, filled with soot and litter and sentiments like “every man for himself” We take this land for granted to no end, we burn garbage on the main road and piss all over the place. We do this so much that it is easy to forget those who have loved it to the point of death. To die for my environment is not something that has ever crossed my mind but I am inspired to stand for something while living in it.
The news of Kudirat’s death happened six months after Ken Saro-Wiwa and my reaction to it was somewhat different because it hit home closer than the aforementioned. The news received the same kind of reaction anyone would have had if they found out that siblings in their school had lost their mother to hired assassins. I remember Mumuni & Hadi crying during our assembly when the head teacher announced that their mother was killed. It made me sad and I quickly became absorbed with the details, reading newspaper updates as they became available. I found out she was killed on a familiar road, that the reason for her death was because she was fighting for something that was taken from her: her husband’s freedom (in addition to other causes). I grew to respect Kudirat Abiola as I learned these details. She made me think a little more about how things were supposed to be.
When I look around me, I wonder what life would be like if everyone walked about with a better idea of these individuals (and the many others who have set noble examples) If only we knew how much power we already posses to challenge the status quo; if we could stop attributing traits such as innovation and fearlessness solely to the West. I think if we learned a lot more about the brave souls that preceded us, we would not want to let them down.
Picture courtesy of wikipedia.com and kind.org