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BN Hot Topic: Does Violence Run in Africa? Or is it Just Us?

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In the past few days, social media has been buzzing with the talk of the video of the show of shame at the Rivers State House of Assembly. I watched the video here at the office and I was sad. I mean, I’ve watched videos showing our legislators hurling chairs at each other and I’ve been quite embarrassed by it. I have always wondered if these people realized that they were not just Nigerian law makers but they were parents and uncles to some people.

What made the Rivers debacle particularly mortifying for me was the point when one of the legislators actively sought out the mace and slammed it bang on the victim’s head. He just kept going. *slam* *slam* *slam*. The victim ran and somewhere in the frame was a uniformed law enforcement officer who joined and started kicking. I cringed and gasped through out the video.

It was truly embarrassing but it made me think about Nigerians as a people. Do we elect these people as our representatives because they’re a true representation of who we are? Thus if they’re wild and violent it means they’re a reflection of our wild and violent nature? For instance, you’re in traffic and someone cuts you off and your first instinct is to rush and have a face off with him; perhaps yank off his side mirror. “How dare he cut you off in traffic?”

Violence is so latent that it is very easy to miss it. If you don’t look closely you might think it’s only a set of people that have that violent streak. The question is if Legislators are violent, does it mean that we implicitly condone it? or why do we keep electing them into power?

Honestly, the issue of these law makers and their constant penchant for physical violence is alarming. It makes you think about the thugs that are used during election campaigns. These are Nigerians.

Watch the video here and share your thoughts. Has it become a norm? Do we address everything done wrong to us with physical aggression? Is this how other lawmakers address their in-house squabbles across Africa? Or is it that ours is just publicized? How do we expect these people to stand up against domestic violence if one law maker thinks it is okay to brutally assault another law maker with the mace? Will there be any sanctions for this act of violence? How can we expect justice to come for ALL the extra judicial killings we’ve had in this country if this happens in the State legislature!

I’m truly mortified with shock.
Let’s discuss

Photo Credit: Nigeriandailynews.com

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

54 Comments

  1. Eve82

    July 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Watched the rivers state video, and the only thing I kept saying to myself was…how in the world could you hit someone with that huge stick, leave them bleeding, and get away with it? Crazy!!! We need to start enforcing laws in Nigeria.

    • tito

      July 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      I absolutey agreed with you. It was ashow of shame. This report as however onesided.
      I am in port harcourt, pls give balance views and allow us the readers make our judgement.

    • Neo

      July 11, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      How is the report one sided? She watched the video and made comments based on what she saw. Since you are in Port harcourt, perhaps you have a two/multi sided report for us.

    • Italian Princess

      July 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      The ability to read and comprehend is important and essential.

  2. yeayea

    July 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    It’s not just “us”, it just not “africa”, it’s the entire world, as in human nature! The U.S. House has had some situations that almost lead to blows, A LOT of European nations House of parliaments are KNOWN for how aggressive they become during their meets. All you have to do is google/youtube there is a plethora of videos to watch.

    HOWEVER, I will say the video I saw yesterday of the Rivers State House Assembly was the WORSE I have EVER witnessed. It was way farther than usual shouting and maybe throwing of fists, it was ATTEMPTED MURDER and the mase use was the weapon.

    Altogether, frustation/violence/losing tempers is not a nigerian/african thing, its a human thing.
    #my2cents

    • OK

      July 11, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      Yep, the tired “it’s not only us” argument, and then you go ahead to negate your argument…”The U.S. House has had some situations that ALMOST lead to blows” …emphasis on ALMOST, just because you feel “angered” or oppose someone else’s point of view doesn’t give you the right to assault them…you might think that you’re “justified” to, you might think that they “deserve” it…but, however way you feel doesn’t give you the RIGHT to physically assault them…that’s what lower animals do …we as human beings left to our devices all have an inherent tendency for violence, and having our way… the difference is that civil societies have evolved to a stage where the rule of law is stridently enforced without fear, favour, or bias (for the most part)…violence breeds, explodes, and becomes endemic in societies that don’t enforce and uphold the rule of law to the highest extent…unfortunately that’s the prevailing scenario in most African countries.

    • yeayea

      July 11, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      I used the U.S. as an example because I am a US citizen. You can take other nations if you like Asian, European parliaments, etc…where fist fights HAVE ensued. (its not hard, just look it up, its on youtube as well) I was just giving my opinion on whether or not violence is an “african/nigerian” thing, and I do not believe it is. History shows us that MAN/HUMANS can be violent. (America ancountry I am proud of, violently killed off majority of the native americans on the land-many nations have had and currently have there share of shame) So again my point is violence is NOT prominent in African nations, its seen all around the world. Whether or not these people that commit these violent acts are brought to justice is another topic.
      Anyways calm down, it’s my opinion. You don’t have to agree.
      #Imdone

    • OK

      July 11, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      @yeayea, If you had taken ur time to read what I wrote and weren’t so quick to pounce and go on the offensive just because someone holds a different view than yours, you’d have realized that I never said only Africans are violent…in fact my exact words were “we as human beings left to our devices all have an inherent tendency for violence ” I didn’t say Nigerians, or Africans, but HUMAN BEINGS…if Atoke asked the same question about America in the period of the massacering of the natives which you stated, I most likely would have said: Yes, violence runs in America.. but the people in your beloved America have evolved (like I said before) and law breakers are, by and large, held accountable for their actions, to the extent that the kind of behaviour witnessed on the video are practically non-existent…and they achieved this by open discourse of the issues, not personal insinuations… Just bcos I hold a different view than yours doesn’t make me not calm as you insinuated… so to answer the question as posed by Atoke once again: yes, violence does run in Africa because of our lax/non-existent approach to the rule of law…it’s just an opinion/observation and if you think otherwise then we will agree to disagree like civil people do all around the world be they in America, or Africa.

  3. creamy

    July 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Show of shame by “leaders”

    • ij

      July 11, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Nigerians don’t stand a chance in hell with such leaders, i tell you, totally cringe inducing , as in outstanding show of shame

  4. Omo Ghana

    July 11, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Does violence run in Africa?
    Difficult question to answer based on your post.

    Yes, violence runs in Africa – its almost inherent! With each country having multiple ethnicites its almost inevitable. People tend to feel threated by the unfamiliar – and we are an inherently aggresive group of people – a product of sufferation.

    However, this specific type of violence, I cannot imagine EVER happening in my country. In the House of Assembly?? No….this isn’t Africa – It must be just you…

    This is a disgrace to the entire continent!!

    • wales

      July 11, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      However, this specific type of violence, I cannot imagine EVER happening in my country. In the House of Assembly?? No….this isn’t Africa – It must be just you.” Abeg let me hear word there. You can’t imagine it ever happening in your country, what useless country r u from? or do you think this happens every day in Nigeria. By all means this is shameful but no country on the face of this planet is immue from it. So please keep your holier than thou country to yourself and let Nigeria deal with her problems.

    • Omo Ghana

      July 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      Atoke asked a question….I respond. My opinion. And I’m sure it was easy for you to figure out that ‘that useless country’ I am from is Ghana! We are addressing facts here, no need for unwarranted disrespect!

    • Bleed blue

      July 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      @wales…there you have it, you’ve just shown verbal aggression, and by doing so cemented what you sought to oppose. You do know you could have made your point using less disrespectful words, right?

      What makes it even more glaring is the civil manner Omo Ghana responded to you.
      Seriously people, this aggressive behaviour, verbal and physical, needs to be weeded out. Let’s start with the man in the mirror 🙁

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      July 11, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      Ehen, no be so I talk am? Nigerians can like to v-e-x ….

    • Lilly

      July 11, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      I believe we all have thre right to express ourselves , these uncles/grandads/ fathers are just THUGS! Saw a Russian House of Parliament showdown once – mental

    • wales

      July 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      Yes Atoke asked for an Opinion but that doesn’t mean you should paint your country in such perfection while insulting others. Everyone here has stated it happens in other countries and not just in Nigeria. Why did you become offended when I asked what useless country you are from? If you don’t want unwarranted disrespect then do the same when giving your opinion. @ bleed blue read her own comment before you go off on me been verbally aggressive. Mind you I am not supporting what happened in the video. But when a person feels the need to put Nigeria down why praising their own country, or making it seem their county has no faults then I have to respond however way it comes out.

    • Bleed blue

      July 11, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      @wales…yes I read Omo Ghana’s comment, I don’t necessarily agree but the fact remains she WAS NOT aggressive in giving her opinion. You were, and unfortunately dear you still are.

      The fact that you say “I have to respond however way it comes out”…hmmm…I guess that says it all; how you deliver your message is of no consequence to you, as long as you get it out…sigh…
      #ManInTheMirror

  5. Fan

    July 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Violence is in every man …. the real question is Restraint; is this something out culture promotes

  6. ileola

    July 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    while not condoning the violence displayed here – it is not limited to African nations. I have watched many a news report showing law makers in other parts of the world show similar acts of violence in their respective legislative houses – China, Malaysia, Indonesia all come to mind. Violence is wrong in any way shape or form – and it has no place in decent society in ANY part of the world

  7. ehi

    July 11, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Nigeria is a failed state..President Jonathan and his wife are the masterminds behind all these. Very sad!

  8. Amaka

    July 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Atoke you are not alone in this o.
    It’s so shameful that violence has become a norm in Nigeria to the extent that our government acknowledges it by exhibiting it for us and the world to see.
    And we were asking why President Obama didn’t come to Nigeria…
    The government of Nigeria owe it to Nigerians to be responsible and accountable in all their dealings. While individuals like Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, Omotola Jalade-Ekehinde, Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie and the likes from all walks of life are trying to portray Nigeria in a good light; then this?!
    It’s very heartbreaking.

  9. Guys Perspective

    July 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    I do not think Africa (insert Nigeria) has a monopoly of violence. There is violence in all climes; the difference is that in the western world there is a strong and functional law enforcement system, and an independent judiciary. Using the United States as an example, I am sure there would be way more violent crimes and (financial crimes) committed, if people believe that they will not be prosecuted if they commit such crimes. The number one solution to most of the problems we face in Nigeria is to enact laws that serve as detterence for all types of crimes, build a strong law enforcement system, and a judiciary that ensures equal justice under the law.

  10. jinkelele

    July 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    no its not an African problem, in this case both the 5 and 27 are as violent as each other

  11. Hurperyermie

    July 11, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Serious Show of shame and we don’t have leaders we have thugs and oppressors

  12. Bleed blue

    July 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Oh my goodness!!!

    So pray tell…what differentiates this mace-weiding lunatic from the killers of the ALUU4 or indeed the Woolwich killers? Honestly what hope is there for you and I if the very makers of the law which should protect us, are exhibiting such animalistic traits? These people shouldn’t be let loose on the streets, not to talk of in the legislature…oh Nigeria…where does it end?

    It’s not the issue of whether or not it happens elsewhere in the world, it’s the non-accountability of it that gives me anxiety. These people will walk free and they will do it all over again if and when they feel the need to. Because somehow, they have an assurance that nothing significant will be done.There’s simply no price to pay for such behaviour, so why would they feel the need to amend their ways?
    I’m just deeply saddened 🙁

  13. OK

    July 11, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Violence runs rampant in any society that doesn’t enforce and uphold the rule of law to the highest extent.

  14. annoying mogul

    July 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    seriously when will this ever stop happening?, is not their fault. #k I think at the end of it all the name NIGERIA will be so polluted and tasteless they will eventually have to change it…lol

  15. annoying mogul

    July 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Corruption at its PEAK. I don’t blame P. Obama for not visiting, wait* visit who? GEJ?? hmm
    na wa ooo God help us sha

  16. inferior ideas

    July 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    violence has no colour; it is a global phenomenon

  17. Neo

    July 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I agree that there is no monopoly of violence. However violence is a strong thread in Nigerian politics. If you want to go into Nigerian politics you need your own mafia. It starts off in Student Union elections where those who run for SUG are usually cultists and can be traced up to the presidential elections where cultists are used to harass other candidates and their supporters. Nigerian politics is not for the meek. So when these same people get into government all of a sudden we expect them to act with decorum? These are people used to getting what they want with force and violence, the only difference is that before they are elcected they are willing to hide behind the scenes and let their goons do the dirty work for them. The last thing they care about once they are elcted is public image. Nigeria is a forgetful country, I wouldnt be surprised if one of these men come out to declare for the presidency one day.

    This our Nigerian problem cannot be solved in one day and sadly the price of change is not one we are willing to bear at this point. Till we have people who are ready to die for Nigeria, change cannot happen because it will take more than our “Keyboard activism” to get us there.

  18. bee

    July 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I was watching the video in the office after work and some of my american colleagues peep over at my desk and ask why the guys in the video were fighting. i was at loss of what to say, i just couldn’t say that there were elected leaders serving their country. I think it all boils down to responsibility as Adults, A elected leader ought to be a servant, but in Nigeria its the other way around. Its so so sad that we face this.

  19. Anonymous

    July 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Just to answer your question:
    abcnews.go.com/2020/video/losing-road-rage-18893966

  20. Mz Socially Awkward...

    July 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Nah, violence is human and not just a Nigerian trait. Without stable governments that place a premium on enforcing the rule of law and strengthening their security forces, anarchy would break out all over the world.

    However, Nigerians, we dey vex sha. Even the way the average Nigerian expresses himself/herself can be quite aggressive to non-Nigerians. If small quarrel begin, everyone go begin shout dey find how to break fanta bottle. We dey vex for moto-park, dey vex for market, dey vex for house, dey vex for office. Therefore, what I think is common to us (and in relation, very well highlighted inthe behaviour of these so-called lawmakers) is a lack of control or self-discipline, if you will. Nigerians do not readily understand the concept of self-control and those who eventually learn how to practise it usually go through a re-learning process of changing the usual attitudes which the Nigerian environment has taught us from our births.

    Me sef know say that one applies to me and consequently, I always watch exactly how my words, body-language and facial expressions might be interpreted by everyone in my environment … Sometimes, it seems we always have to prove to everyone that “Wetin?! No try me oh, my wahala no good!!”.

  21. jeni

    July 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    oh wow! are these people learned at all?! gosh they are not different from street thugs, area boys or some alaba guys. woww these aren’t law abiding looking people and shouldn’t even be in such rule positions…

    • Lilly

      July 11, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      So agree witchu …

  22. jeni

    July 11, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    ruling*
    so called law makers that lack self control and self discipline…
    abi the military should take over again ni.. lol I don’t think this democracy is working for Nigeria oh… I don’t even know what to say again #lipsealed

  23. nich

    July 11, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    always talk and talk and no action……………….keep hoping on hope

  24. Lana

    July 11, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    This can only happen in a country where the President is supporting his wife to wrestle power in her state of origin. Sad!

  25. Angie

    July 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Hmmmm…You know, watching this video, I kept remembering the Aluu 4 incident. That is a man, somebody’s father, somebody’s brother, Somebody’s uncle, somebody’s husband and per chance somebody’s mentor, who carried such a big stick and whacked another man on the head repeatedly. He showed no conscience, no feeling and would have killed that man if given the opportunity….all for what??? How his hand can get closer to the national cake…[email protected], we are innately violent people in Nigeria abeg and the sorry part is that it’s getting worse from generation to generation. Look at Wale above, did Omo Ghana’s comment warrant the verbal attack???? I was even more ashamed when I saw Omo Ghana’s civilized response. This video is sickening and truly makes me ashamed of being Nigerian. May God help us.

  26. Gbemmy

    July 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Imagine what if that is your dad . How would your feel # just thinking#

  27. Drpeperempe

    July 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    We are not even talking about the gross disrespect of the mace! The absolute idiocy displayed here is tear-inducing! Frankly, I don’t care to pacify myself with thoughts that this obtains in other nations. This, Nigeria, is my country and thus my only concern. We keep comparing ourselves with lower standards, that’s why we either regress or remain stagnant.

  28. Princess

    July 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    did u guys hear when d supposed house of rep guy appointed by Jonathan’s order (d guy on blue in d video) was shouting aromate! to d touts which is a slang for a secret cult called vixens.. so if d people in seat of power are in d Cults arent we finished as a country…. NO HOPE FOR NIGERIA IN D NEXT 20 years… all these people need to die first

  29. Lady b

    July 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Lol

  30. deyepee

    July 11, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    nawa o… I weep for my country. Lord God, even if it happens everywhere, what gives the man a right to almost kill another because of money? This is absolutely ridiculous!!! i have not even seen this before telling someone that i dont think Nigeria can be a better place. Even if u start with the man in the mirror, some people will make sure that the mirror gets broken. To think that man is someones father, son and husband. Horrible!

  31. Naveah

    July 11, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    If the person perpetrating the violence on the other man is not held accountable for his actions then I truly know sey Nigeria’s name should NOT be called in the presence of civilized nations. We were able to keep our lawlessness in house but now with everyone having a camera on their phone and social media outlets readily available, wind done blow, fowl nyansh go open. Nigerians have huge egos and big tempers fan it. And because there is no law against putting your hands on another except in self defense people feel at liberty to express their angers knowing there are no consequences. This is a country where money can buy you anything you want including the freedom to inflict violence on another human being and getting away with it.

    Sad indeed!

  32. Adaeze

    July 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Violence is in every one but the Rivers people are particularly violent and promote it in their culture. It’s not just that ALUU 4 community wickedness in Rivers State (dunno if it is the mental carry over from Niger Delta Militancy?) that comes to my mind.

    I tell you, even among lawyers in the state – I was at a meeting where they were the first to throw chairs at people. It’s a googleable fact that the lawyers association, NBA, destruct one time during a Portharcourt meeting and remained in limbo for a long time. These are lawyers who wake, eat, drink and sleep the law. How much more these shame-free lawmakers from all walks of the Rivers life.

  33. nene

    July 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    not just in africa. it is a worldwide problem. i remember seeing something like this happen in russia and italy.

    • nene

      July 11, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      i guess PH has a lot of crazy and violent people..i remember aluu4 and i shake my head. tufiakwa.

  34. NNENNE

    July 12, 2013 at 2:16 am

    Violence is everywhere but the problem is that in Nigeria our laws are not enforced.
    People turn the other way if it does not involve them. That is why the killing in northern Nigeria continued since after our independence.

  35. Idak

    July 12, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    What do you expect when you have retired motor park thugs and area boys as lawmakers?
    If you know the background of those Rivers lawmakers, you’ll not be surprised.

  36. Xtsy

    July 13, 2013 at 12:29 am

    Not watched the video but Did they pull out guns?

  37. I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do? They're really saying, I love you

    July 13, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Wow…

  38. jb

    July 15, 2013 at 11:56 am

    OMG!!!!Am in tears! how can this be the nigeria of my dreams…..what in the world gives anyone the right to hit your fellow human being in whichever manner…..how does this country even begin to progress???can we just go back to the military rule????

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