It all feels surreal. Like, this isn’t really the Nigeria I grew up in.
I know that there have been serious skirmishes of religious undertones throughout our history as a country.
I remember hearing about Mai Tasine when I was in primary school. While I don’t know where I got the information from; I imagined that the Mai Tasine people wore long white jalabias and walked barefooted with scimitars hidden in the robes. I will never forget seeing a man wearing a jalabia walk down the road from my house; leading to the junior staff quarters of the company my dad worked for.
Indeed, I was so scared because I had heard of beheadings in the North and I did not feel safe. But I never said a word to anyone.
There was also one of the religious meltdowns in Bauchi in the 90s. I was in secondary school when stories of violent killings filtered in. Pregnant women torn open and people getting chopped up to bits.
But living in Jos, I always felt kind of insulated from all this. Jos was a peaceful place. Everyone said so.
So the 2001 implosion took all of us (except for the instigators) unawares. Then for me, the sense of insulation from violence was destroyed forever.
How do you get the explosions and gunshots and smoke and screaming out of your head?
How do you see the people you grew up with label you as the enemy? While you label them in return and behave normal?
I was undergoing my IT when Jos was desecrated. When we resumed work after almost two weeks of being indoors, the atmosphere had changed. The Muslims and Christians at work had an undercurrent that polarized effectively.
But stepping back and looking at all things; the Nigeria I grew up in was incredibly problematic
Over time kept, we kept burying matters that bubbled to the surface with three inches of sand. This is why the wind keeps excavating the same issues over and over again.
Any semblance of peace and tranquillity in the Nigeria I grew up in was a lie. It was a mirage hiding deep seated caverns of division and hate.
It wasn’t the civil war that started it. In fact, it probably could be traced back to Usman Dan Fodio and beyond.
I am not a historian, so I stand to be corrected.
We never really blended as a country. Nigeria is like sand, oil, water, leaves, rocks and all kinds of things were poured into a bucket and stirred. No amount of stirring has succeeded in changing the contents into one viscous solution. Decades later, we are still a bucket with sand, oil, water, leaves and rocks.
We are not one in Nigeria.
The mistrust is the perfect easel for politicians with personal ambitions. They come and mount their board and bring out their brushes and paint pictures that are not unifying. Pictures that suit them and get us to support them for all the wrong reasons.
This divide that has existed forever is the crack that Boko Haram has neatly burrowed into. Boko Haram exists only because of the mature fault lines in the bedrock of this country. And Boko Haram has refused to disappear simply because of tacit unofficial support from probably official quarters.
Nothing tears my heart like pictures and headlines of “repentant” Boko Haram members being “rehabilitated” and treated like; they gave us a gift by supposedly renouncing the terrorist group.
I cannot believe I live in this country.
You could be beheaded and your whole family killed with your farms and homestead burnt to the ground. Yet, the known perpetuators are forgiven and taken to a resort and released back to the society. Just because they are “sorry”.
No wonder the group has refused to die.
Kill, rape, bomb, kidnap, and commit actual treason. Videotape and air to the whole world.
Get accepted and be “de-radicalized” and told not to be naughty again and released back to the society.
Simply because you come from one part of the country.
On the other hand, talk about a revolution. Organize a rally to protest how the country is being run. Be arrested. Let it take the intervention of the world after months incarcerated to get you released.
You did not kill a fly.
Because you are from another part of the country.
In the last week, a Christian leader and a Christian teenage student were killed clearly because they are Christians. In the same week, a Christian girl abducted years ago gives birth to a child for a Boko Haram leader.
The most deceitful thing anyone can tell us is that; it is not a fall-out of an age old divide between religions especially in the North.
It isn’t politics for anyone to cry out at the deliberate targeting of Christians in the north. And it is simply a fact.
If it isn’t Boko Haram today, it will be another group tomorrow; acting out on the fault lines that have existed in this country long before I was born. Structural issues. Fundamental issues that no government has had the courage to deal with from day one; because they have used these weaknesses to the furtherance of their ambitions.
There is obviously no honestly in tackling the problem in the North East. I don’t believe there has ever been.
I was wrong by starting this article by saying that this is not the Nigeria I grew up in.
The Nigeria I am in today has always been in the making. It was all leading to this. And I am saddened by it all. Saddened and hardened.
May the souls of those departed rest in peace forever.
May the souls that have fed into this fire begin to burn from now to eternity.
And may those complicit or in power enough to actually make a difference but have sold out for any reason…In fact, may violence chase them to their graves and remain to their 4th generation.
I love Nigeria underneath the way I hate it so much right now.