The #EndSARS protests is definitely not a chapter anyone would have predicted in Nigeria’s history; especially not in 2020. Driven mainly by young people on social media, it quickly became a global phenomenon and has proven capable of redefining the course of the country.
While the protests have stopped physically in Nigeria, the impact is lasting and changes are indeed taking place in the country. The most fascinating thing about it is the heightened political awareness – how young Nigerians are now rightly in permanent protest mode, giving way to an important issue that should be up for debate.
Nigerians are particularly known for forgetting past events and legendary moments. For instance, there are far too many national events that have been swept under the carpet as if they didn’t happen. But, we cannot do this with the #EndSARS protests, which have shown that Nigerian youth indeed can stand up for themselves and demand accountability.
Fortunately, the first known victim, Jimoh Isiaq is being immortalised through a citizens radio, “Radio Isiaq.”
While this is commendable, it doesn’t cater for other victims. We must ensure that the names of the martyrs are recorded for posterity. These names must become ingrained so much that generations remember them.
They must be discussed on the pages of newspapers, and in history books. There is some respite, thanks to the Internet. A Google search of “#EndSARS Memorial” would show the Lekki Tollgate, now renamed “Lekki Tollgate #EndSARS Memorial” and marked a Memorial Park. While this is not an official designation, it signifies that indeed, young people want the Tollgate renamed.
Immortalisation is not an easy task but, it is a necessary one. We must look at incidents that have been immortalised through history. We must discuss it and answer the many questions bound to be generated. No matter what, martyrs must be immortalised. So that we do not repeat past mistakes.
“Ayọ̀délé Ìbíyẹmí is a lifetime student of Literature. He is also a reader who writes occasionally. For him, words are what makes the intractable world livable. Ayo tweets at @Ayo_eagles. He was a Wawa Book Review Young Literary Critics Fellow and won the 2019 Ken Saro-Wiwa Prize for Book Review.”