It’s Easter weekend and I’m driving down the Pacific coast, savoring the ocean breeze and listening to Kirk Franklin’s Lean On Me. At this time of the year, I tend to get a little spiritual, not like the traffic spirituality on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. More like soul-searching with a bit of gospel hip-hop.
Easter used to be one of my favorite holidays. Four days of bliss when you’re told all your sins of last the last year are forgiven! Utter bliss! I remember those days when Easter and the Eid meant the world to us. How my friends will come to our house on Easter and tear into the rice and chicken with little mercy and how we’ll go to my friends’ houses and eat so much meat and amala during the Eid we’ll need our stomach purged at the end of the night.
I still remember the mounds of fresh meats our neighbors used to bring to my father on Sallah mornings. Back then, we had no clue we had different Gods we just knew we had a God we prayed to differently. There was no politics then. People didn’t need to divide us to win votes. They spoke to our hearts and we listened. And the military didn’t care if we had hearts anyway.
Normally, music lifts my spirit this season. But not this season. This Easter, I pull up by the ocean and think of my home on the other side of the waters and world. I’m expecting my mind to form a picture of cheers and hope. But, all I see is a sea of blood.
How can you have hope when down in the North East dozens of young girls are hostages to gun totting, hot-blooded young men who with itchy fingers? How can you sing Hallelujah when the pictures from the bomb blast in Abuja plays on your mind like a bad movie? How could you celebrate when your fellow countrymen and women are not sure if they are about to step into bullets on the street?
The song dips and the searing lines about girls got my heart bleeding.
And there’s a girl
Searching for a father and a friend
Praying that the storm someday will end
Deep inside me, I can hear the girls crying, praying for the government forces to free them. Girls whose sin was going to school. Girls who only wanted to better themselves and now they face an uncertain future. I think of those girls as my sisters, nieces, cousins and daughters and the tap opens up in my eyes. This is madness.
You try to escape the misery of this season of madness but the CD won’t let you. It keeps tugging at your heart.
Here’s a man
Standing on the corner
He has no home
He has no food
And his blue skies are gone
Can’t you hear him cryin’ out
You hear those lines and you’re at the Nyanya bus stop, a place that is supposed to be the safest place in Nigeria. After all if our seat of government is not safe, where is safe? And, you see all those who died in your head – people looking for a living, people on their way to loved ones, people just trying to live. And now, they are statistics in raging fire of terror.
I am here
You don’t have to worry
I can see your tears
I’ll be there in a hurry when you call
It gets really bad really quickly here. In most cultures, the government will do all it can to safeguard the people. You can’t say the Nigerian government is not doing anything. But, you just feel that more could be done. And, you feel the government should show more heart to a bleeding cause.
It doesn’t help seeing the president dancing at a political rally the day after the blast. I live in America where the official line is that terrorists won’t decide how we live our lives. But, can you imagine George Bush attending a political rally and dancing the day after 9/11? This is where the President’s handlers should have stepped in and said, ‘sir, this event would be on another day. The nation is in mourning, we have to mourn”.
And, you wonder who will care for the masses when the main political parties are playing politics with death? If there is anytime PDP and APC should join hands and work as one this is the time. But, PDP accuses APC of sponsoring terrorists, APC decides her governors won’t attend a security meeting with the President on the spurious excuse that someone from the presidency called the aide of a rather junior governor and said the meeting was off. You wonder if the governors were going for a federal allocation meeting they would all have reacted to the call the same way without checking and cross checking?
In the end, the main losers are the Nigerian people. When their leaders should care about them, they play politics. When the governments should come together and fight the terrorists, some turn a blind eye.
You just wonder if our leaders don’t care about the children, who will?