Banky W’s Note to us!!! Join the fight to a better Nigeria.

“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” – Shakespeare

First, please read the quote pasted above. Let the gravity of those words sink into your system. Then, if you haven’t already, and if you’re strong enough to stomach witnessing sheer and absolute horror, please click on the following link: http://www.anglicandioceseofjos.org/dogo.html 

There is no other quote that better describes the recent inhumane attacks in Jos, Nigeria. If “a picture is worth a thousand words”, then what do we say of pictures like these? It’s unimaginable. Each picture represents a horrific, gruesome murder. Innocent women, children (and men) were brutally ambushed, attacked, maimed and murdered worse than animals. It’s unthinkable that in 2010, after the world has gone through so much progress and development, some of us in Nigeria are still living like this. It’s heartbreaking to witness these events. It’s heart-wrenching to think of what happened on the morning of March 7th. It’s unfair and deplorable. It’s mind-numbingly sad, pathetic, and downright insane. 

But this is the Nigeria we live in. A country full of extremes. Extreme wealth and extreme poverty. Extreme Joy and extreme pain. It’s hard to imagine that this is the same Nigeria that just hosted the U-17 World cup; that just celebrated it’s 50th Year of Independence and boasts of some of the most expensive luxurious lifestyles in the world.

Nigeria is the most populous Black Nation in the world; it is also very much a melting pot. It is home to 250 to 400 different ethnic groups, and is almost evenly split amongst Muslims and Christians (not to mention various other traditional Religious Belief systems). However, while in some metropolitan areas of the world, vast diversity is generally a positive attribute, in Nigeria that diversity is ripping us apart. We are different, but that should be a strength.. not a disease. Instead of learning from each other we resort to fighting. Instead of maximizing our varying degrees of potential, we resort to killing each other.

How men can devise this kind of terrible plot is beyond me. News reports have put the death toll anywhere between 200 and 500 people. Probably More. Innocent lives snuffed out for absolutely ignorant, ridiculous reasons. Mothers and children. Families destroyed forever. All because of some ethnic disputes, disagreements over land, or even religious differences. What’s sad about occurrences like this is the fact that usually, there’s some underlying resentment towards policy, authority, Government or the powers that be. But instead of finding some other way to address these issues, people resort to killing other innocent (and probably-frustrated-as-well) human beings. Maybe you’re justifiably upset at the way things have been… is that reason enough to take the life of someone else who is innocent, and like you, probably just trying to get by in these harsh times? 

The worst thing about the Jos attacks is the fact that this is not the first time that we’ve witnessed such horror, and conventional wisdom says it won’t be the last. There’s a song on my last album called “Why”, where I tried in my very limited capacity to speak from the heart on situations affecting our Nigeria. I specifically mentioned “fighting in Jos, killing one another no remorse”. This song was created by Cobhams Asuquo and I over a year ago; I was inspired to write, when similar killings occurred and a friend of mine lost 2 immediate family members. Little did we know that the song would prove to not only be an account of times past, but a prophecy of things to come as we are now witnessing the same evil history repeat itself. 

My heart aches for those that lost their lives in Jos and for the families that mourn them. My heart aches for the present state of Nigeria. My heart aches for the future of Nigeria, but it shouldn’t have to. I once read that the definition of Insanity is repeating the same actions over and over, while expecting a different result. We are all frustrated with the political and economical climate in Nigeria. We all complain and we are quick to point out everything that has been so wrong for so many years, and rightfully so, because it’s just pathetic. But if we decide as a generation to do nothing about it; if we decide to turn a blind eye and ignore the need for change, then our future generations will inherit the EXACT same issues. And that will mean that we have failed them. 

We all witnessed the inauguration of President Barack Obama in the not too distant past. The whole world watched in awe, as America, once the chief criminal in slave trade, voted in its first Black President. We all know the U.S.A. still has issues its dealing with, but President Obama’s swearing-in is a day that will forever go down in history as a day that changed America. Prior to Obama becoming Commander-in-Chief, most people thought that there would never be a Black Man voted in as President of the USA. Prior to Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and co, most people thought black people would never be able to vote in America and that Segregation would never be demolished. I put it to you that we CAN change Nigeria’s future, using similar formulas. Obama became President largely because the younger generations (and those young at heart) decided to exercise their God-given rights by voting for change. We can do the same here in Naija. 

Change does not happen overnight… Some will recall that in the USA in 1994 there was a revolution of sorts, but partly due to somewhat dubious circumstances (Florida, etc), the Bush Regime lasted an additional four years. We are used to Politicians in Nigeria treating Power as a birthright and votes not counting, despite our calling it a democracy. But in the same breath, how many of us actually turn out to vote? 2011 might be the year that changes our country forever. We may or may not succeed in toppling the “birthright-mindset” of our leaders immediately, but we MUST, in the very least, get the ball rolling. We the (young) people must decide that we are fed up of the nonsense we’ve seen for years and vow to change things. 

We still have no constant power supply. We must vow to do everything within our power to get our government to #lightupnigeria. We have leaders that are complacent and corrupt. We must vow to register-to-vote and to actually vote. We can, possibly, abruptly change and take charge of the future of Nigeria in the 2011 elections. Or in the very least we can IMPACT it so that it never stays the same. We are fortunate enough to not have to deal with any Natural Disasters, like the recent earthquakes in Haiti, or the Tsunamis in Asia. It’s time for us to stop BEING the disasters, and to start being part of the solutions. I will be one of many young people completely devoted to bringing about change in this country because I believe we deserve it and it’s long overdue. I hope you will too. 

Lastly, my heart still bleeds for Jos. I will never claim to be an expert on the problems that the region is dealing with, or the solutions. I do know however that we must all decide to collectively be a part of the change we all desperately hope for and deserve. May those who died Rest In Peace. May their deaths not be in Vain. May Peace reign in all parts of Nigeria and Africa. And lastly… May Change Come. Enough is enough.

~ B.W.

The Nigerian Charity

It started with all the news on CNN about the massive earthqauke that occurred in Haiti. Then I woke up last week to read in the national dailies, that our leaders decided to donate $1 million dollars to the Haitian people. Soon, it was followed by the report that Governor Fashola, was donating same sum to the Haitian government.

I thought that was the end of it, but recently, while reading through some blogs (Bellanaija, Ladybrille and Facebook status updates of my friends), the Haitian tragedy has come up consistently. The above mentioned blogs have even suggested that our celebrities, fashion designers and other well meaning Nigerians should rise up by donating to the Haitian cause. Call me selfish or whatever, I simply do not care at the moment. I’m simply appalled that our government could easily shell out $1 million dollars to Haiti, while we have a simmering pot of religious crisis happening at our backyard in Jos.

Why are we advocates of unwarranted sensationalism? I emphatise with the Haitian people. Who would want to experience such things? I certainly don’t but I do not agree with all these calls for donations. The U.S. government and the rest of the developed world have already done enough for Haiti. Correct me if I am wrong, but, I’m yet to see any other African country donating as much as we are. We have misplaced priorities. We have people who have been displaced by the recent crisis in Jos. These people need shelter, water, food and clothing, yet, someone is asking that our fashion designers send clothes to Haiti. So gross, when I begin to count the number of orphanages, street children, physically disadvantaged people within our country who need this money to improve their lot in life. I support charity but let us commence our charity work from home.

Let us encourage and motivate individuals who are running this centres selflessly with the little they are getting from individuals and corporate organisations. If we can donate $1 million dollars to foriegners, we should do same for our own citizens. Yes, you might say it’s a natural disaster. I agree, but what we have within our country is a more greater disaster waiting to happen. This is why youth restiveness, unemployment, kidnappings and religious crisis can never come to an end with the kind of profligate attitude we have.  For those of you out there (well meaning Nigerians), who also are thinking of donating to the Haitian cause, please do so…but before you click that pay button, your $1 or $10 dollar donation could have provided books for a Nigerian child out there.

Please take a moment and support the ‘Change A Life‘ organisation, being managed by the amiable Ms. Funmi Iyanda. I’m not her spokesperson, but I have seen what she has done within the past 10 years and I am confident that, with your able support and monthly donation of N5,000, we can keep our children off the streets and provide a better tomorrow. Í’m also supporting this organisation with my own widows mite throughout this year. This is part of the reason I’ve been gloomy for some days. I’m much lighter, now that i’ve gotten this off my chest. Have a splendid week ahead.