Jos: A Land Of Religious Psychos. Nigeria’s Own Darfur.
The recent bloodbath in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria has left many fuming and asking questions. It is a low down dirty shame that these killings have been going on for years, the first I remember of such chaos was when I was in my Junior Secondary School and that was over 17 years ago. Hence, I strongly believe that this situation is no longer just about religion. It is political, it is economical, it is about power and control. It is about who controls Jos and who gains the most from the chaos that refuses to go away.
There is no rule of law and whenever these crisis occur, I have never heard that anyone was arrested or punished for the heinous crimes committed. Hence, people have gone on with their violent acts over the years because they know they can get away with it. I do not care if you are Christian or Muslim, when a crime is committed, the perpetrator needs to understand that his or her actions have consequences and if you are matured enough to do the crime, then be ready to dance to the music that follows and answer for your actions.
At the same time, a lot of people are pointing the fingers and blaming each other and the most interesting is those who have decided to unleash their anger at the gods the people in the region serve. It is their way of letting the world know they don’t believe in any god and so, they think it is right to disrespect others in the process of making their voices heard. I have read Facebook status where people have become so vulgar and though they call themselves intellectuals, they are no better than those who committed the barbaric acts been beamed across the globe. The exception is they are doing it with their words and not their machetes. I understand they are angry and want to be heard. You can say what you need to say without disrespecting others. And that is something I have come to understand that some of us do not understand. Respect for others despite our differences. Respect for others in spite of the fact that we have different belief systems. Respect for others though we have opposing views on the same issue. In the words of Aretha Franklin, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. This is something some of us Nigerians and individuals in different parts of the world do not understand. You do not need a degree or a PHD to respect others. It is something you do because you know anything less is unacceptable and will lead to unnecessary trouble but something as simple as this, my intellectual friends do not understand.
What’s interesting is they very fact that they are angry but fail to realise that venting their anger on Facebook while they live outside Nigeria does not change what’s happening on the ground. And so, I have laughed at the ignorance, arrogance and do excuse me, the great stupidity displayed by some. Especially those who call themselves the voice of reason. The great intellectuals, who are well informed on the situation in Jos, Nigeria. Check this, go back to your intellectual sacks and when you have solutions and not just brain knowledge but practical solutions, come out and let us know.
I find it puzzling that the same people who add fuel to the current raging fire, fail to realise that Islam or Chritianity, by all means, excuse my naivety does not say to people to go out and kill each other. I have Christian friends and I have Muslim friends and we talk about these issues and so, when the ‘Know It All People’ keep asserting that religion is what makes these group of people kill, I find that disturbing because they are also perpetuating a wrong notion and when people have the wrong information, they have the wrong impressions. I know there has been the debate about young people from different parts of the world, from Europe to America becoming entrenched in the battle against the world in the name of Islam. This is because someone sold them a lie and they bought into it. My Muslim friends do not sit about wanting to kill others. Instead, one told me after 9/11 that she was ashamed to tell anyone she was a Muslim because she could not explain to anyone why those evil men did what they did. For that is not the Islam or environment she was raised in. In the same vain, there are people who take Christianity and interpret it to suite their evil hearts and so quote scriptures and use it to back their twisted minds. People do the same with the Quaran…hence, we must educate ourselves and find out the truth to avoid having the wrong information and jumping to the wrong conclusions, and then use that to hate on others.
Jos, in my opinion is due to breakdown in civil society, government and a negative mindset. A mindset which masks itself as religion, but in actuality is hate and evil in the hearts and minds of many. Another factor is the lack of education. I know there are people with PHDs who commit murder but I happen to know my fellow Nigerians. Life in Nigeria is hard, tough and rough. Armed robbery is at its highest and the armed robbers kill and rape their victims. This happens in different nations across the globe. In Nigeria, it got worse when the nation started going down the drain and when the law does not work, what is expected but an increase in the level of crimes committed against people by their own neighbours and friends? By no means, take that as an excuse for the evil these individuals do…no incident happens in isolation. There are factors that are ignored for long periods of time and so, one day, it becomes a problem of epic proportion.
I do not for one second excuse or apologise to any religion or belief system. What happened in Dogo Nahawa, Jos, is evil, barbaric, despicable and vile. It should never have happened nor should the other incidents that have taken place in Jos over the years and cost numerous lives. It is time this wickedness in the name of religion or whatever anyone now wants to call it stops. It is time the Nigerian government, develops some bottle (courage), take hold of this situation and resolve it. Its time, we get our people to understand that we may not believe in the same thing or agree on all things but we will have to compromise in order to live in peace alongside each other. It is time we understand that the human life matters and no one has a right to it. The image are sickening and make me nauseous. They also make me angry but if the authorities had taken firm actions in the early years when this crisis that has now become a national symbol of violence, started, maybe, just maybe we will be having a different debate and discussion about Jos. Over the years, people have decided to point the fingers and blame each other without ever coming up with a solution to the issues at hand.
Reminds me of the Muslim man who lost everything in one of such attacks years ago before he found his way to Benin City to become the security man for a family I knew back then. Nice man and his English may not be the best but he treated my friends and I with respect. Let me go one step further, the Hausa security man we had in our own compound, who saved my life the day a black mamba entered our compound and found its way to the very place where I was going to fetch some water. He killed and burnt it and then cleared the grass in the area for the safety of my sisters and I. One thing, he never missed prayer and my mum knew not to disturb him when it was his prayer time.
How about the Pastor, whose wife was raped in front of her children when Nigerians, who had no business with the Danish cartoons published in Europe, took to the streets to protest. It became another war between Christians and Muslims in the nation. So, you tell me, is this still all about religion or a sick mindset that needs to be educated about respect and the value of a human life, as well as realise that no one person has the right to truncate the rights of others in order to make a point. I know these things will go on and no mater how much I write about it, there will always be religious psychos who will take matters into their own hands. It is a shame that people carry religion and wear its emblem on their forehand but their hearts, dark like an alley way in the dead of the night. It is a shame that people do not understand the difference between relationship with the god they believe in and the doctrines of ‘religion’ misinterpreted by a few mad men which compels them to annihilate others.
Maaza Mengiste, when asked why she decided to write about Ethiopia’s brutal era in her novel, Beneath The Lion’s Gaze, said, “I was compelled to tell this story because I wanted people to understand that there was a historical and socio-political context to this violence, it didn’t just suddenly spring up. No group of people, Ethiopian or otherwise, are born violent or naturally predisposed to it.” I too believe, the violence in Jos, Nigeria has its own historical and soico-political context. It is time the Nigerian government takes this into account and stop being sissies and get to action at finding a long lasting solution. The religious leaders must also recognise that there is nothing wrong with showing mercy. However, all mercy without justice is liberalism and all justice without mercy is legalism and so, we must find balance.
In the hands of a few men, machetes, became ‘Weapons of mass destruction’ and my world do they know how to get creative with it. Shame, they did not get creative in other areas of life to make their communities better. And so, this chaos reminds me of Darfur, if you have ever read the book, Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir, she describes the way the Janjaweed came into her village and with skill proceeded to kill. The Fulani herdsmen who committed havoc in Dogo Nahawa came into the community on horses, looks like the devil came into town on horseback. Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, it seems had foreknowledge of a day like this happening again. What a shame that it happened in Jos, Nigeria.