AS a little girl, mother told me many tales. I do not mean fables or folklores, but amazingly-soothing stories of the Nigerian kindred spirit, the inexplicable sense of solidarity displayed by the average Nigerian. She spoke of times when raising a child was not only a parent’s responsibility, but that of the community. She narrated scenes of communal policing, when a neighbour would without hesitation, chase plunderers from another neighbour’s farm even at imminent risk.
That was an epoch when it didn’t matter whose child you were in the time of distress, for an army of concerned Nigerians would willingly rise to your rescue as far as you are a human being, but most of all, a Nigerian. We were closely knitted in the giant web of communalism, displaying epic concern for a fallen brother. Alas, that was eons ago. My recent experience held not a tinge of similitude to the pleasant Nigeria my mother grew up in, whose memories she refuses to relinquish to oblivion.
It has been over two weeks since the horrifying experience that temporarily silenced me on this platform, suspending my most cherished interactions with a readership that has been true to this column for years. While I would want to profusely apologise for the short period of being incommunicado, it is my strong desire to open the curtains, like in a stage play and re-enact the horror I came face to face with in a bid to drive home this salient fact — the gradual but rapid stripping off of our NIGERIANISM may drown this nation in caliginous waters of social disintegration.
The glory of the king of the day was in full splendor, as his rays struck the earth surface like meteors from space, every object received an upsurge of current. It was a hot, hot afternoon and one could make an omelet, sunny side up on the tars, but I was sitting on those tars, backside gradually getting grilled like barbecue for an evening soiree. I didn’t choose a patch on the roads of one of the busiest roundabouts in Africa’s largest city to communicate with my muse, I had just been hit by the infamous Ibadan Nissan Micra, steaming red hued liquid, freely running down my face from the edge of my eyes, a badly bruised nose, broken lips and a left arm emanating excruciating pain.
My blue peep-toed flats laid haphazardly on the road, my almost brand new second pair of eyes, smashed to pieces and my cream coloured tote bag? You are right to guess that it had fast become an object of potential raid for the crooks within the small crowd that gathered after the collision. My legs were numb and all I heard was screaming and more screaming. I looked down on my denim jacket and saw blood and at that instant, my tear ducts lost their efficacy to hold the undammed salty water that began to flow like a spring. My mouth opened and I began to scream like everyone else. In that moment of consciousness, I saw a group of riffraff gathered around my bag, like rats who just found a huge chunk of cheese but out of nowhere, a woman from the crowd, like a big feline, scared them off and thrust the bag in between my numb legs, shouting instructively at me to hold it close. I was picked up by two men and carried into the cab whose reckless driver was the reason for all that commotion, but that was when the real odyssey began.
The panicking driver had picked up a companion for moral support and they both were to convey me to the nearest health facility for treatment, while I was bleeding and writhing in pain but they began to rigmarole, driving back and off from the point of the accident. At that point, I started screaming, demanding that I be driven straight to the media house but NO. They wouldn’t take me anywhere that I gathered from this conversation:
Driver: “I am worried what if I take her to the media house and I get arrested or my cab gets confisticated?”
Man: “Who says you will take her there, let’s just dump her somewhere and leave.”
Thank the heavens I was still conscious to understand what was going on. I got to the hospital eventually but the crux of this discourse lies in these questions: what if I wasn’t conscious? Would they have just tossed aside a wounded person? Would anyone have stopped to help the unconscious lady, bleeding away by the road side? Our society has been transmogrified and sadly, negatively. No one wants to take a closer look at the stranger lying in the pool of blood for diverse reasons, but in the beginning, it wasn’t so. While some reasons for turning a blind eye may be understandable, others are simply inhumane, malicious, callous and most others are simple cowardice. I used to shrink in disbelief when I heard direful narrations of people whose bodies were later discovered after a hit- and-run because no one stopped to lend a helping hand but after almost being tossed on the road side by two humans, considering the precarious situation I was in, I would never, in my lifetime, second guess any such tale.
We are losing our humanity, our kindred spirit, our Nigerianess and above all, our communality which singles us out as a caring race, a concerned country and why?
Some claim it is due to police brutality and barbarity. So many innocent people ended up behind bars for being the Good Samaritan. In a country where you report an accident but becomes the apprehended after severe pummeling from unprofessional law enforcement agents, who would be brave enough to help? Who would want to stop a barreling car on the highway having seen a stranger in the pool of blood? What if it turns out to be only a decoy by robbers?
Sadly, we have shut our eyes because of many such evils and several souls who were genuinely in need of help, our countrymen and humans alike, have crossed the narrow sea to the land of no return. However, after we think we have achieved self preservation, which is sadly today’s Nigerian’s superlative pursuit, would we be able to sleep at night, knowing that a human being passed on because of our inaction?
Re: God will not come down
After reading your article, God will not come down, I felt indicted as a lawyer who has not done much to challenge the ills around. You opened an aspect of my faculty that I had not given any serious gaze. To say that you spoke absolute truth is to say the least. Thanks for the exposition. It is important we start helping ourselves. —Hilary Onwe, Ibadan
Your article struck a chord and I absolutely liked it. I felt like someone was voicing my thoughts. That ‘it is well’ and ‘God will help us’ mentality just angers me. Thanks for addressing that. — 08135925253