Silence, the fuel of injustice

ABOUT seven decades ago, while speaking to the representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt,  Martin Niemöller dropped a ‘seed’ that has gained immortality, as mortals will definitely quote parts of his speech for decades to come. For me, one of the most powerful phrases interred in Niemöller’s speech is this: ‘ I remained silent, I did not speak up.’

Lately, I have come to doubt the totalitarian veracity of the saying: ‘silence is golden’ because by silence, kingdoms were lost to usurpers, true heirs became lifetime slaves, the unbesmirched wallowed in dungeons for centuries and by silence, justice was repeatedly denied.

King Solomon, in all his splendor, wrote the book of Ecclesiastes in his old age and begun the first verse of the third chapter saying “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” He was the wisest mortal to have walked the face of the earth and till this day, his wisdom, while it remains a conundrum, remains unrivalled. Yet, this wise man, insisted that for everything under the heavens, is a time. I concur and I make bold to say that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent, but often times, mortals in all their mythical infallibility, fail to recognise and distinguish the times.

Your silence, in as much that it could be golden, may be your undoing if you fail to properly interpret the times.

Allow me to buttress this with an incident I was alerted of recently. One, which I hope would be didactic. The victim, a young lady in her late 20s, lives on the topmost floor of a 10 room apartment in one of the South West states. It was a hot Sunday afternoon and she had just returned from church to find to her uttermost surprise that the electricity distributors of the region, on a terribly hot Sunday, were magnanimous enough to grace her area, a place notorious for electricity black out. An euphoric lady, took a quick cold shower and decided to nap under the soothing breeze of her occasionally creaking ceiling fan. Seconds after she drifted to sleep, the silence of the room and the beads of precipitation on her forehead woke her from her reverie. Thinking the electricity distributors had used up their Sunday benevolence, she decided to go out for some fresh air, but there in the middle of the compound was a rancor. Neighbors from the other apartments held a certain man hostage and there was a huge pandemonium. She later gathered on getting close to the berserk crowd that the power cut was as a result of the captive tampering with electricity wires, and he was being held hostage until he fixed it.

True, after severe yelling from occupants, the man touched some wires and electricity was restored in their respective apartments, save for this young woman. The crowd simply dissipated, but left with no choice, she approached the handy man and demanded an explanation. With irritation, he told her off, saying he had nothing to do with the black out in her apartment, as he made for the gate.

That was the instant the music changed, earlier, an angry mob of occupants held him, but this time, it was a single woman, raising her voice for justice. She shut the gates and insisted he was going nowhere till power came back on in her apartment. He thought it was some bluff, the inconsequential ranting of a woman, he assumed, but for two hours, she rattled him. He gave a litany of excuses but eventually, he got a ladder and after three hours, her power came back on. No other occupant joined her…they all went into their apartments, content because their power had been restored. What if she had kept quiet? Would justice have been served?

Niemöller closed his speech saying: ‘Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me…’ When caught between the rock and the hard place and there is no one to plead your cause, will you be silent? Who said a closed mouth is a dead destiny?



Unfortunately, we (women) are making noise over nothing. I would rather belong in the kitchen and the other room with all my qualifications and experience, why? Those are the places where the power of change and getting of things done lie. Many men are more amiable and willing to give after a satisfactory time in both rooms. Perhaps Aisha Buhari doesn’t get this because if she does, getting rid of the cabal in Aso Rock will be child’s play.