Chinua Achebe, wrote in his book titled The Trouble with Nigeria, “There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of leadership.”
This statement got me thinking. I’d thought the problem of Nigeria is unique, something passed to us by our ancestors, something difficult. I’d thought the problem of lack of peaceful coexistence in Nigeria was because we carried an innate imprint of hate from birth, but this statement above summoned my attention to mull over this issue more carefully.
The concept of peace in Nigeria, if the truth must be told is a vague and awkward one. Every Nigerian can attest to the fact that peace in Nigeria can best be described as “a sleeping dog” whether you allow the dog to continue to lie or you wake it up it will surely wake up by itself. Meaning the peace concept in Nigeria has been a temporal issue.
I was told there was a time Nigeria publicly announced to the world that it will be an advanced nation by the year 2000. That statement was made in the 80’s. It’s disappointing to know that this self-deceit has always been in existence even before I was born, and now I am getting old.
It has been a circle, consoling ourselves with false hopes while we continue to do absolutely nothing but hoping for a better result. Or should I say we continue to practise more devaluing habits as a procedure for a supposed valuable country? Am I sounding too harsh? Forgive me if I am, but I hope you will feel my heart beat as you read further.
The most common phrase in the mouth of our politicians has been ” this great country of ours…”.
Is Nigeria truly a great nation? No! We can be, but we are not yet. We must tell ourselves the truth before it will set us free. But the truth will first make us angry, because of it always comes like a bitter tasting drug.
A country that makes corruption easy and profitable. A nation that cannot secure the peace of its people, I wonder how such a nation will blindly keep reassuring itself of greatness. I intend to write only about peace, compelled by the recent killings in Kaduna, Benue, Maiduguri and many other places.
After a great clash and so much bloodshed. Many lost their lives, others lost their loved ones: parents, children, husbands and wives disappeared- they all died for nothing. As the pictures and video clips of the innocent victims of this horrendous act kept flying in the social media. It was painful. Very painful!
it was now his turn to address his people just as usual. It has now become a norm to stand and pretend the killings are painful or dreadful. Just like a star actor he stepped forward and started his speech. Knowing fully that the whole world is watching him he began his speech,
” Fellow citizens of Nigeria, it’s very painful and disappointing to see what happened a few days ago. My wife and I couldn’t sleep, and terror was frightening. I highly condemn such a barbaric act and we will find those hooligans and punish them according to the law of the country. May God comfort those who lost their loved ones and properties during this inconsiderate act. I call on everyone to *tolerate* one another and embrace our differences. May the souls of the departed rest in peace. Long live Nigeria “
I watched carefully and suddenly the speech was sounding very familiar. Are these people trained to memorize these lines? Do they really feel what we feel during this crises? Are they scared too? If they are why do we keep having this issues?
Suddenly I remember something I read in The Talmud, ” upon what does the world rest? Upon a singular pillar and its name is Justice “
‘Justice should be served unapologetically. An eye for an eye, he who kills should also die. Enough of all this nonsensical approach. And if the government is not willing to help its people, let the people protect themselves.’ I thought of these over and over again, then it dawned on me that I was wrong too. I was beginning to think like the first person that started the act that instigated the crisis- I became emotional. Very emotional, nothing could have calmed me down.
The truth is this: we’ve all been deceived for decades to tolerate one another. What an error!
Can mere willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from mine cure this evil disease?
I can tolerate you to be who you are, or who you want to be, but the minute you mistakenly or unknowingly touch me, you have crossed the bother of tolerance. Because it is impossible to be with someone for a long time without interfering or inconveniencing such a person, tolerance cannot work. It simply cannot be a remedy that the people should adopt.
Do what you want to do. think want to think. Believe what you want to believe. Let’s live together. But don’t ever think of interfering with my life- that is tolerance. The countless time it has failed!
Tolerance alone cannot work. What then can?
1. Forgiveness: I believe the greatest weakness of humans is we often forget to forgive until its too difficult to forgive. This is what I mean: a lot of lives and properties have been destroyed because a man uttered a curse or spoke ill of another man. This man can’t take any insult from anyone, he wants to protect his ego and appear brave, so he began a fight. This usually results in manslaughter especially when both parties realised they are coming from a different tribe or religion. What normally happens is the kinsmen of the deceased will also not take it lightly- a bloodshed is not an easy thing to let go. Consequently, the “bravely” action of one man has ignited a terrible fire, an unquenchable one.
This forms a circle of killing and retaliation that could have been avoided if only that young man took that insult as ‘insult’ not a bullet from a gun. Forgiveness, therefore, is a big tool for solving crises especially if applied at early stages of any misunderstanding or crises. As difficult as it may sound, people have forgiving people for any evil act you may have imagined. You cannot forget, but you can forgive. We are built with a system that can forgive even if it hurts, and anyone can forgive. Let everyone know that his reaction to anything can affect the whole community. People who display the courageous act of forgiveness should be celebrated and rewarded by the government. This will increase encourage others to practise it more.
2. Love: love has a different meaning to different people, but we all know that if we love someone we care for them, easily forgive them, understand them, we are willing to be patient with them and show them kindness. Love makes it possible for one to go an extra mile just to see the happiness of the one that is loved.
What is amazing about love is that the lover may not always be happy, but there would never be any need for a crisis. It’s that simple! Since love automatically blinds our eyes or reduces the intensity of any crime that may be committed by the beloved.
The word Love is, therefore, an elder brother of tolerance. It goes beyond seeking the convenience and pleasure of one’s self to the betterment of the nation. If we love our country Nigeria will be great naturally. Highly religious nation but no love for its country. I wonder what we think we are doing. “I pledge to Nigeria my country to be faithful, Loyal and Honest” the first line of the National Pledge. If the first question the Creator will ask you is, ” have you been faithful, loyal and honest to your nation?” What would your answer be?
Nigerian citizens must learn to value their lives above the suggestions of their “already failed” leaders. This is our most valuable therapy as a nation. Forgiveness, love and Justice. This is what we must preach.
We all have the same mental strength as anybody else in any part of the world. We can decide to forgive though it’s not easy. We can decide to love until it hurts, as Mother Teresa declared from her experience, ” if we love until it hurts, there will be no more hurt but more love”.
By Misal Musa.