My heart bleeds 7.pm 22.10.2020
It was dinner time in my home. During dinner time we always have conversations about how the day went and the things we achieved during the day, the challenges we faced and how we could deal with it better next time.
The whole day at work, my mind was on Nigeria. I couldn’t concentrate at work. I snapped at every little thing. Where was my cool? Where was my sense of control?
How could I concentrate when my country was burning ? How could I concentrate when I realized that lives were being lost, innocent people were dying, peoples businesses were being destroyed, yet those who had and have stolen the commonwealth of the people walked about freely and with protection.
How could I concentrate when I knew that what drove me out of that country was the very thing that the young people were fighting for even though it has been hijacked by unscrupulous elements in society like it always does in any society . No wonder Victor Hugo in his Les Miserables announced “To the barricades” – reference to The French Revolution. Could it be that my country is ripe for this revolution?
Two years ago (2018), I wrote a story Another Gentleman – I incubated that story for a year. In 2019 I revisited the story and reworked on it and incubated it again. Early 2020, I edited the story again and left it in the burner to simmer and on the 5th of October 2020, it was premiered on www.enrichyourmind.co.uk and www.boomradio.com.ng . I see that story playing out now in Nigeria today.
I remember that I have family back home, I remember that I have friends back home , I remember that I have loved ones, relatives , associates, colleagues and people that I worked with and will continue to work with back home.
How could I enjoy the dinner conversation when my country was burning?
Then out of the blues my daughter asked a question “if you were to make a movie, what kind of movie would you make?”
My son talked about the kind of movie he would make, my wife talked about the kind of movie she would make, my daughter talked about the kind of movie she would make. I sat still listening to all these things, yet my mind was far away, in Nigeria and on Nigeria.
How could I enjoy the dinner conversation, when my country was burning, when the very thing that drove me out of that country was still a curse to my people.
She turned around and asked “dad what kind of movie would you make ?”
I jolted alive. I woke from my dreamland.
“I would make a movie that would hold leaders in my country accountable – all the irresponsible leaders and people who have ripped and raped the people of their dividends and their right to ownership, resources and wealth; I would get them stripped naked and paraded on the streets for all to see and then every single dime that they have stolen I would make sure it gets returned to the coffers of the government so that it would be used to be of service to the people.”
When J.B Priestley wrote An Inspector Calls and Inspector Goole visited the Birlings as they were having a party, celebrating the engagement of Sheila and Gerald, in the midst of Eva Smith’s suicide, he questioned the Birlings and Gerald Croft about their complicity in the death of Eva Smith. All of them denied culpability in the death of Eva Smith. However, Sheila Birling was sensitive enough to accept towards the end of the play that she was responsible and in fact all of them were responsible for the death of Eva Smith. What J.B Priestley was trying to bring out was the fact that we were all responsible and accountable for watching over one another and ensuring that the well -being of everyone in the society was our collective responsibility. I agree that J.B.Priestley may have been a socialist questioning capitalism. However the idea of holding our leaders and those who have stolen the wealth of the masses, especially the political bourgeois accountable is very relevant today.
In my country right now, the country is boiling, hearts are aching, businesses have been lost, properties have been destroyed, years of stewardship have been destroyed. What was supposed to have been a strategic youth protest have been hijacked by the hoodlums in the society. Anywhere in the world when protests happen, you always find miscreants who seem to hijack it in order to nullify the goals and objective of the protest.
What is even more peculiar in the case of the Nigerian state is the fact that these hoodlums are a creation of the status quo because they have been ignored, marginalized and no viable mechanism had been put in place to address their joblessness and insecurity, consequently they have been manipulated and can be manipulated at any point in time for selfish reasons. This is the monster that has been created by the status quo. This monster will one day, and hopefully soon, turn around and bite the status quo.
As a writer and as writers, my heart bleeds about what is going on in Nigeria and I feel extremely sad, so so sad for lost lives, destroyed infrastructures and destroyed businesses that have been built by honest people who have contributed genuinely to the development of the Nigerian state- their sweat, their blood; these people have employed people, paid taxes and then overnight, everything perished. It is heart breaking and heart wrenching.
How could I could I enjoy the dinner conversation when my country is burning down?
My job , our job is to use our pen to ensure that we document, we write, we tell the story in a truthful way that history will bear record, that within the means available to us we have been able to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Healing lies in the truth.
Like Othman Dan Fodio (1754- 1816) once said, conscience is an open wound that can only be healed by the truth.
We live in a day and age of social media influence where we always have tons of false information flying left right center, and as voices for the voiceless and conscience for the society, we have to segregate the chaff from the seed and sow the truth into the hearts of the people so that when people act and react, they would have acted based upon the truth and nothing but the truth. That is the least we can do.
And may our voices ring loud and clear. May our voices pierce the hearts of our leaders, may our voices haunt them day and night until justice is gotten.
May our voices continue to demand for accountability until we secure a better land for ourselves.
Uwem Mbot Umana©2020