Temie Giwa: We need to talk about the North (YNaija Frontpage)

When death comes in waves to people who look like us all, it cheapens the lives of the living; and makes cheap death probable for us all.

It is very early morning in Kano city. The dawn peeps in and drives away the thick blanket of Northern sky that covered Kano through the night. I am in the ancient city of Kano, known as the centre of command for the ancient Fulani tribes who waged war and conquered many civilizations across the northern planes of West Africa. Outside, the city wakes.

The hawkers walk around chanting the poetry of their profession. The Akara woman whose breakfast stall was right behind my hotel has begun her daily calls to the nose of the Kano people. She compels all to her stall with the siren of her frying oil and the tantalizing aroma that beacons every cell in our noses. The stomach grumbles in response.

The lyrical buzzing of one million and one motorcycles permeates the air. Waking up, the furious zig zag buzz of the okadas, reminds me of the colony of bees that lived in my backyard back home. It is time to go. I am scheduled to visit some villages in Jigawa, a neighboring state, to interview health workers for my master thesis project. It was all part of my grand adventure back home.
This is the picture of the North that I remember and in the past three years since the trip, I have clung to this picture rather than the more realistic one of carnage, destruction and death. The north is burning and the rest of us have gotten used to it.

Each Sunday we read about yet another attack and we simply shrug and move on with our lives. It is understandable but it cannot be sustained. In Kano alone, the attacks are so frequent that the resident of that great city claim that the military is no match for the ferocious mayhem that seems to lead Boko Haram. Maiduguri is not better either.

The city has lost most of its inhabitants, only the destitute remain. Economies have crumbled leaving thousands of open doorways and orphaned children. Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Kaduna and Jos have also borne witness to this recent crash of a civilization. Schools are shut down, hospitals overcrowded and slowly running out of steam to save lives and the world watches as we move on with our lives.

The time of reckoning will come soon and we will not be ready for it. 3,000 Nigerians have lost their lives in 3 years and while their deaths lack the inter-tribal tension that led Nigeria into a civil war 3 decades ago, it is still dangerous to ignore this horror.

The main lesson I took from the recently published book, There was a country, by Chinua Achebe was the incredible danger in complacency when fellow Nigerians lose their lives in trickles far away from the rest.

When death comes in waves to people who look like us all, it cheapens the lives of the living; and makes cheap death probable for us all. The north is not too far from us; their horror is ours to share. While the North burns, the rest of Nigerians are tasked with crying out that enough is enough. We all need to talk about the North and this is the beginning.

We must ask ourselves what drives this insurgency? Where is the money that sustains it coming from? What will the world that increasingly chooses to send drones to fight her wars do and what price will we be called to pay for this?  How will this end if those of us who are safe for now don’t speak up? Will they come for us too?

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

 

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