President Umaru Yar'Adua has been gone a long time. Back in 2009, when I was at City Uni, I was asked by one of my professors to write about the many things going on in Nigeria. Some of my fellow students couldn't understand the things we deal with in Naij, like PHCN, the "Enough is Enough" movement, and how we could have a missing president. So I wrote this:
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My View on the News
Today is the day the Gender and Equal Opportunities bill (#GEOBill) is up for public hearing at the National Assembly in Nigeria. After months of controversy and initially being rejected by the senate, the bill was "re-assessed" aka watered down, and re-presented. This version (click here to read - downloadable pdf) is what is up for public hearing, and addresses, among other things, inheritance law, equal opportunities in education, workplace discrimination, and maternity rights. What is being presented is in no way adequate, but it IS a beginning.
Key clauses addressing age of consent, reproductive rights, legal age of marriage, and sexual violence were left out, and while it is a huge issue that archaic ideas of what Nigerian culture is, and what it represents meant that vital parts were dropped, I acknowledge and accept that we must start somewhere.
These are some of the points I discussed a couple of days ago, when I was invited to discuss this issue and how it affects young Nigerians on a radio show called "Above Whispers on Air" on WFM.
There are some who say that the problems in Nigeria are so overwhelming that other issues happening thousands of miles away should not, and do not, concern us. I roundly, and heartily disagree. We are all human beings, and the pain of another should move us, even if that pain is not the same as ours.
Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis died, and justice was not served.
And now, from Tamir Rice, a 12 year old with a toy gun being shot to death, to Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to this most recent Grand Jury ruling over the death of Eric Garner in New York, the taste of injustice is bitter. That a life is seen as disposable, less than, or unworthy, especially when taken by "authority figures," just because it's a black life, is a bitter pill to swallow. For many Nigerians, the image of America as 'The land of the free' has become even more tarnished.
If video evidence of a unarmed man tackled to the ground and choked to death, and an autopsy ruling his death as a homicide cannot compel a group of supposedly educated adults to rule that there needs to be a trial for his death, then how are people meant to believe their lives are worth protecting, especially by those who are duty-bound to protect them and not kill them and walk away with no repercussions?
Nigeria has been, and continues to be, home to many injustices. We see it each day, in little and large doses. From the man on the streets, to the bouncer at the doors of a club, to our own police, and of course the leader we supposedly elect, chipping away at any sense of justice we wish we had. I suppose it may have been idealistic to think there were places where perhaps these injustices weren't so blatant, weren't so painful, weren't so rampant, but it's a harsh reality for many who may never have experienced blatant racism to face; that a place held in such high regard by many, touted as the modern land of milk and honey, the place where everyone is equal, is killing people who look like you & I, and those responsible don't seem to be paying the price.
Sensitive video below.
I know many, myself included, are hoping that the independent Federal investigations to be undertaken by the Justice Department for both Mike Brown and Eric Garner will come back with better results.
RIP to the departed. #BlackLivesMatter
Read more about Eric Garner's death here: http://time.com/3016326/eric-garner-video-police-chokehold-death/
Read more about Ferguson here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/opinion/sunday/where-do-we-go-after-ferguson.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0
Thumbnail image by Matt Bors. See original here: https://twitter.com/AnUncivilPhD/status/540234257835499520/photo/1