I don’t know about you but I worry for a country that wants to celebrate the death of a human being not because he was insanely wicked to humanity but because of his religious beliefs while he was alive.
As the news of the helicopter crash filtered in yesterday and I heard that the Kaduna State governor might have been in it, I got a little concerned about how his state would handle the news. Kaduna not only belongs to what we sometimes like to call the ‘Core North’, it is also probably the only state in that group with an almost equal Christian and Muslim population. For as long as many of us can remember, it has remained one of the most volatile states in Nigeria. It almost always easily erupts in religious violence, at the slightest provocation. Reprisals are almost always as deadly as the main acts.
Kaduna State had never elected a Christian governor until Patrick Yakowa got elected in 2011 after he became governor a year before that when his boss was appointed Vice President to President Jonathan. The violence didn’t slow down as a result. In fact, the state probably witnessed some of the worst attacks on churches after the governor went into power. It was and still remained a volatile state and the death of its governor would definitely throw up interesting scenarios.
Within hours, I had heard about slight forms of jubilation in parts of Kaduna State following the death of the governor. Living in a country where it probably takes 24 hours to confirm news like this from the electronic or print media, I tried searching on social media to see if the information had any truth to it. I didn’t come across anything that confirmed this apparent celebration of death; but a young man’s Twitter comments caught my eye. @ibrah_shuwa said clearly that “Kaduna people needs (sic) to celebrate this.” He continued; “It’s never right for a true Muslim to say RIP to a kufur (loosely translated to mean ‘non Muslim’).”
Living in a country where I’ve heard Christians say severally, that all Muslims in Nigeria should be exterminated for killing Christians, regardless of the fact that many Muslims are against the crimes being committed by organizations like Boko Haram, I wasn’t too surprised. I also took some solace in the fact that most of the people, who attacked and condemned the young man on Twitter for his words, were fellow Muslims. That of course made I clear to me that his views were not representative of the general thinking of Muslims on what should be a sad time for Kaduna State and Nigeria in general.
If nothing else, the one thing Chinua Achebe’s new book ‘There was a Country’ has done for more than a few Nigerians, is forcing us to speak up. For many years, even I as an Igbo man have found very little material on the civil war in Nigeria. A time that is probably still the most significant bit of our history. The continuous act of sweeping everything under the carpet in the name of a weird ‘no victor no vanquished’ theme has hardly helped water down the mistrust that has continued to fester many years after. It is this same continuous belief that Christians and Muslims will continue to live at peace in Nigeria as long as we ignore the elephant in the room, that has led us to start believing that the hundreds of people who die in religious related violence every year, are the exception.
I don’t know about you but I worry for a country that wants to celebrate the death of a human being not because he was insanely wicked to humanity but because of his religious beliefs while he was alive. I worry for a country that believes that all members of a certain religion should be generalized as killers just because small groups of people from that religion have become monsters. It is also laughable because Nigerians are always the first to complain when foreigners say all Nigerians are corrupt and drug dealers and prostitutes and human traffickers. We hate to be generalized with negative stereotypes, yet within our own country, we do nothing else but tag people and judge them simply based on where they come from or what they believe in.
The school shooting last week in Connecticut might turn out to be the trigger that America needs to final confront gun control issues. Like President Obama said while fighting back tears; “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action regardless of the politics.” Those words ring very true for us here too. It is just really sad that we have had too many incidents that should serve as a trigger for us to take ‘meaningful action’ yet we keep sweeping them under the carpet. The carpet is going to start spilling out all the dirt very soon.
Rest in peace to all that died in the ill-fated helicopter crash in Nembe, Bayelsa State.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.