After the circulation of the disturbing video of armed militias of the group tagged the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) searching for so called ‘Hausas’ in moving buses in South East Nigeria, a whole lots of reactions trailed.
For me, it was more of a personal questioning and introspection. How do you decide to kill a fellow human based on the assumptions of language? How do you maim another human whom on the basis of travelling thousand kilometers to your home, honours you, and by that core, is a guest in your own town? How do you murder your own guest at your very table?
In 2000, I was growing up in a city that was red and bloody. Thousands of innocent lives were lost in my own city of Kaduna, due to a crisis bordering on believes, faith and religion. The aftermath of that crisis was the separation of Kaduna and up to today, the city has not healed.
Before then, when even my foetus was not formed, millions of Nigerians were killed in another war, the Nigerian Civil War that was played on the ego of soldiers, and humans were maimed, murdered and their psyche scarred forever. Today, drums are being rolled, and trumets blown, inviting yet again, war and trauma. We are a generation it would seem with blurry memories and a thirst for blood.
Therefore, on the Friday after the attacks on certain ‘non-natives’ in the South East of Nigeria, tensions were high that, on this pure day of ritual, the North will also rise, retaliate and the country shall boil in bloodshed.
I was in the Friday mosque, legs crossed as I sat on my praying mat listening to the words of the Imam. After the spiritual enjoinment, the theme of the Imam’s soft and sage words were of calls for patience, peace and restraint. The North disappointed the rumour mongers. There will be no blood, there will be no violence. We are not them!
The North has decided to rise above hate, and treachery, and show the way to be mature and resolute. Subsequrnly, an Igbo support carnival was held in Kano promising not to retaliate to IPOB attacks on northerners in SE Nigeria. The North responded, and the surpisrse on them is choking. We are not them!
Today, Arewa is riding on the sage words of Nigeria’s foremost writer, Abubakar Imam, when he preached to congregation of southerners in London, amongst whom was Nnamdi Azikwe in the 1940s:
“Let us not deceive ourselves. If we want unity, the first thing to do is to build the foundations of mutual friendship. Northerners and Southerners must not look down upon each other.”
When a child who seizes upon a infantile way to win some further attention, the child begins to make trouble. And any mature parent who has gone through the first stages of civil war between child and parent will tell you: the best way to deal with such incitement is to ignore it. Continue to ignore as long as possible.
There is a ritual in the way rap battle tends to take place. First, there is some times of provocation. A rapper would brag about his prowess, or insult his rival. The key is to remain restrained, so that the other overreacts and shows themselves to be insecure. The attacker is therefore in a position of weakness. Two qualities hence make one successful in a rap battle: restraint and dismissiveness, or overwhelming force. Most of the time restrain is subtle and wins the battle. It is clear that a certain section need to know the importance from this analogy about the folly of starting a duel one is not prepared to win.
Indeed, it is up to the culturally and politically mature sections of this nation, to stop the spiral of recrimination, and so far, the matured ones are doing it. I end with the lines of the great author and writer B.M. Dzukogi:
“The strongest and the courageous among you in times of war is one who had all the energy and the final advantage to kill a soul but spared it to retract humanity. “