So it happened! No one can argue that it was nowhere terribly expected, but one dared to hope that the ugly and abominable word “retaliation” would remain locked in the dark abyss of primitivism hidden in the Nigerian psyche. I decided to remove the warning phrase of this fear from my recent statement from Abuja – it was a concession to a superstitious fear, that “giving him the floor” might trigger the zombie trigger in people prone to the homicide. So of course we would be held responsible for having inserted the notion into the heads of others. We all know however that these retarded spirits are always present among us, and are just waiting for the most insignificant excuse to actualize their deepest desire. From the statements of those who claim to be men of God, there is no doubt that such a desire receives the approval of the entire human spectrum. Where they cannot act, they inspire others to fulfill their creed with morbidity.
The horror that has recently afflicted the people of Anambra and the rest of us has been doubled for me personally because the news reached me out of the country while I was attending a community empowerment event. young people – a university graduation ceremony. The anticipated question has surfaced many times: What kind of mind is capable of such bestiality? And yet it happens, again and again. We know who these killers are, they live among us. I sometimes have the feeling of really knowing them, of having met them, of having heard them and perhaps even of having read them. And we know that unless they are exposed and preemptively exposed, they will strike and strike again. Their actions reduce us all, tarnish us and challenge our humanity.
At the Abuja event, exactly a week ago, I proposed the need to develop the collective sense of a lowest common denominator in grasping our humanity. Any act that attempts to drag us below or remove that rung of the human ladder should be answered with a total community shutdown – or other equivalent – of its own volition, until that rung is fully recovered. . The infanticidal orgy of Anambra is one of them. The mob immolation of Deborah Samuel was another. The response to such abominations transcends the mandatory functions of security agencies. The act constitutes a breach in the community ramparts and must be answered by collective action. Once again, I insist on the fact that it is high time to go beyond pious denunciations, which are certainly essential, but insufficient. We just have to find ways to make our repulsion so clear, unambiguous and inclusive. Only then will these pollutants of civic consciousness be brought to rethink, to understand that it is not only immediate family, friends and colleagues whose humanity is thus violated, but the totality of the cohabitants .
I admitted, in Abuja, that I almost canceled this engagement as a sign of revulsion and solidarity with the bereaved. In the end, I decided that this would not be the right move. I also happen to have an engagement at Anambra, at a school where, as far as I know, Mr. Jibril Ahmed’s children were enrolled, or will soon be enrolled, a sanctuary of learning for one who is still in the belly of the murdered Harira. It didn’t have to be this very institution, but it was precisely towards such a place of creative formation that they were all innately predetermined. Collective action is not always easy to find – except of course through coercion, which we see in the activities of militant groups in the East. That’s not the point though, as this is a crossroads the people of Anambra will navigate on their own. The cold-blooded murder of guests in our home, however, is not simply a national problem, but a violation of the vaunted values of the black race. We have to start somewhere, “draw a line” – however individual and limited it may be. I totally repudiate the murder of guests, of the unarmed, of the innocent, of the vulnerable, even the murder of humanity.
This time, I believe the decision is right, the imperative moment. In empathy with those innocent people whose school careers were so brutally canceled, I serve notice of cancellation of this engagement with Anambra School, scheduled for August. The death of these innocents is irreversible, but we must begin, even yesterday, the process of reversing the mental trajectory that makes death by innocence the current norm of national existence.
‘Wole SOYINKA is the first black winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
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