Fire is attractive to children…
Oh wait, let us rephrase that and start all over again:
Children are attracted to fire.
If you can remember when lamps with “globes” were a thing; almost every child in every household made an attempt to try to catch the fire burning merrily behind the glass globe, resulting in a lot of scorched little fingers and a sudden aversion for flames, however attractive. Children – especially those in the toddler range – have always tried to grab the flames of a candle; pluck the flickering flames on a stove, and turn off and on things which would combust naturally.
Until they get burnt.
I recall the “jaguda” parenting of the 80s and 90s didn’t bother to insulate children from the effects of playing with fire. No! Rather in a controlled situation, children were allowed to explore all they wanted with fire under the assumption that;
- They were still children so whatever the effects of getting their fingers scorched; it wouldn’t be long lasting either in their memories or on their bodies.
- Ironically considering number one above; a first-hand experience with fire was considered the greatest deterrent and lesson as far as the dangers of playing with fire were concerned.
For the most part, this worked and except for those children who had pyromaniac tendencies; a healthy and respectful relationship with flames was developed from these parenting experiments that lasted the children a lifetime.
Watching that video of the Ebeano fire incident and the alleged nine-year-old that razed to the ground in an instant all that the hardworking man had sweated and spent years to raise; it was a bit difficult to convince anyone that this was a child just playing with/fascinated by fire. There is an age when that fascination ought to have burned itself out of the system (excuse the bad pun), and even if it hadn’t; there was a total knowledge and awareness of how to use a lighter; plus where exactly to place the lighter to ignite flames that is too eerie and uncanny for words.
Children also play with lighters way past their toddler age. If they find it lying around, they are very likely to fiddle with it until it flips on. But it does take some fiddling considering that modern day lighters come with a tiny safety catch. This arsonist flipped everything in one fluid movement.
She knew what she was doing.
Again, children usually flip lighters and admire the flames. They try to play around with it until someone gets burnt. Then they develop a healthy respect for lighters and understand boundaries and the need for social distancing from flames.
Again, this was not present with this child.
She flipped the lighter, set it to the bottom of a rack of gas lighters until it caught; then placed the lighters back on the shelves and walked away; looking back to ensure that the deed had been done. A few minutes later, she could be seen walking out of the supermarket with her adult companions; looking back to make sure that she had “done a good job”.
None of the video footage shows her raising an alarm if that fire was an accident.
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Even after the flames caught and she and her adult companions stood around outside watching the ensuing chaos; at no point in time did the magnitude of her “mistake” cause her to call out and admit something had gone wrong.
She simply came out and skipped merrily away with her laughing adult companions.
Meanwhile, another Igbo man who had shrewdly and patiently built a business from the ground up in a budding and thriving community in the heart of Abuja, is left to rifle through the rubble of his dreams, and ask his chi personal questions.
- And this is for every other business man reading this. I hope and pray for Ebeano’s sake that his supermarket was insured. That he didn’t just build and stock and left the rest to God. Even the wisdom to design insurance came from God. So, purchasing a policy is akin to putting your business and its fate into God’s hands.
If you are a business person reading this, let this be your wake-up call, please.
- Until it is proven otherwise; I am taking the explanation that the arsonist was just a child playing with fire with a healthy dose of salt. The incidents playing up to and following from the fire is too coincidental to be just wished away with that explanation. But let the police proceed with all professionalism.
- Why was the video released? Well, you all could keep asking that question. But if it wasn’t released, the girl wouldn’t have been apprehended so quickly. On this one, I am firmly standing with whomever took the decision to put the video out there.
Oh! She may never be able to attend school in her entire life again? Wow! We are so touched. FYI, scores of families just lost their source of income and an Igbo man just lost his business through what appears to be a deliberately-set fire. And we are worried about her ability to continue going to school?
- At this point if it was just a mere coincidence; then she does need a little bit of help because this is a coincidence of magnificent and tremendous impact. When she comprehends the extent of damage that has been done; she would definitely need help coming to terms to it especially if, as is suspected; she was put up to it by an adult instigator.
Whichever way you look at it, this is so many different shades of messed up, that it totally and completely beggars belief.
However, one angle that I am seriously holding myself back from unleashing is the angle that once again, fire consumes the sweat of a hardworking Igbo man.
We either assume that Igbos are ritualists, or we try to burn down the fruit of their labor to return them to status quo. But remember that we are not going to talk about that today, right?
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Maybe it is time for every Igbo business in the North to go find Yoruba or Hausa-oriented insurance companies and purchase water-tight policies from them. That way, we will not only be helping the moribund “one Nigeria” dream continue to live in the mind of fantasists; it would also be like making assurance double sure.
Nna, if my business burn down, na your business go reimburse me o.
Being your brother’s keeper on a kentro level.