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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Modern Day Samaritan

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When I started writing this column, I didn’t know what to expect. I was at a place where I was trying to find my voice in a large expanse of amazing writers. It was just me and my computer every week – together we’d create something for people to read as they settle into their weekly routine. It didn’t feel like a chore because I actually do enjoy writing. I may grumble from now till eternity about how much I dread Sundays and how afraid I am that I’ll have nothing to say, but then I sit at my desk, plug my earphones in and the words just come. Many times, I don’t have the foggiest idea what I’m going to talk about but I know I have a commitment to this column every week. So this is my special thank you for reading every week. You are the reason I keep thinking of things to write about and things to share.

I hope you had a fantastic weekend? Well, on this end, other than trying to work my way through two hundred and fifteen emails this weekend, I took advantage of the sun being out and had some barbecued chicken with cocktails. Twenty minutes into the lounging, the ‘light showers’ started and we had to dash inside. It was TV time.

On TV, there was a program called “Eye Spy”. In the episode I watched, there was a hidden camera in the restaurant and a black girl is having lunch with her white boo. The waiter (he’s white) comes in to take their order and then he goes on to make several unsavoury comments about the girl’s colour. The idea of the show is to find out how many of the restaurant patrons would speak up against the apparent racism. If they did speak up, how long into the racial abuse/discrimination would they actually speak. A number of people were quite uncomfortable with what they were overhearing but they didn’t speak up. One guy was so uncomfortable, he spoke up and asked the waiter to stop being rude to the couple.

There was another clip with a blind guy who ordered a bottle of wine in a tavern. As he sat there having his drink, a woman from another table was slowly emptying his bottle of wine. The idea was to find out how many people would call her out on her indiscretion. People were just generally observing that she was doing it but very few of them actually called her out on it. Nobody spoke directly to the blind man to tell him his drink was being emptied.

As we sat there watching, my friend, Ebele asked me why I was gasping and being all righteous “If you were there would you have spoken up?” I huffed and said “Of course, na me go first shout sef! Na my voice go loud pass.”

“Easier said than done. You Nigerians who like forming it’s not my business”.
Her words have stuck with me since. It has made me re-evaluate myself and my mindset. This is especially so in light of the recent online attacks on the young lady whose story has been making the rounds. It has made me think of the online mob in comparison with the ALUU4 mob.
Imagine being on a queue at the bank and the cashier is being rude to the person ahead of you, instead of speaking out to curb the excesses of the cashier, all you’re thinking about is “Abeg do quick make e reash my turn!

It’s a very thin line and all we really do have is each other. If I’m not going to speak up against injustice, why should I expect someone else to?

I’m going to leave you guys with this message today. Have a fabulous week ahead. Smile, remember to touch a life positively, and be a shining star.

Peace, love & cupcakes!
Toodles

Photo Credit: madamenoire.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.

37 Comments

  1. Proud Osogbo Chick

    August 26, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Hmmmmm well said!

  2. the drill

    August 26, 2013 at 9:12 am

    tah!

  3. carliforniabawler

    August 26, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Aluu4……hmmn, Aluu4!!
    I did a lot of soul searching after that incident and I swear I couldn’t find in me any part that would have hesitated to help them!!
    I’ve always being quite ‘militant’ though…..I called my grandma out for maltreating her maid at age 9…. she was shocked! I told her I give the boy run away money if she didn’t treat him better and asked why she didn’t treat any of her grand-kids that way.
    There are some gray areas for me sha, like in the case of a parent whooping their kid to the point where it’s violent/abusive…..most times I just walk away, because if/when I stay I’d ‘have to’ say something….

    • ms lala

      August 26, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      I called my aunt out on a similar behavior tooo…i don’t tolerate unfair treatments especially to the young and old…no way jose…omo my middle name is defender of the universe lol..seriously i’ll jump in and defend whoever is being treated unfairly…it’s sad that such behavior in really rampant in Nigeria. if we speak up more and call out people for bad behaviors the perps are likely to change. this goes for all situations in life

  4. holla

    August 26, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Well said it is.I dont condone any form of cheating in public or otherwise.Weeks ago i was at the bank this two guys were trying to play smart jus to jump the queue i gave them a piece of ma mind there and then even though one of them got away with it.

  5. Mz Socially Awkward...

    August 26, 2013 at 9:49 am

    My dear, na the fear of entering police matter wey dey stop Nigerians from “chooking mouth” to stop the prevention of crime. And I no blame them, because NPF has a way of turning a Good Samaritan into a prime suspect. Before you blink twice, dem don make you sign statement…

    Otherwise, I don’t agree with your friend Ebele. On the contrary, Nigerians enjoy taking an active interest in wetin no concern them… in fact, you never see people wey dey “form it’s not my business” pass some oyibo folk. But even them sef, I no too blame, ever since that incident of a passenger being stabbed to death on a London Red bus because he tried to get some young hoodlums to stop misbehaving.

    Which is why we all doffed our hats to that lady that was brave enough to confront the Woolwich killers right in the heat of the moment. Me, I no sure say my Christian charity for reach that level… But I don do good Samaritan work one time like that when I been dey travel go law school. Was in one of those commercial Peugeot station wagons and we got stopped by Mobile Police, looking for their N20 of the day. They probably wanted to shake us up a little so they started asking to search our bags. That’s how I piped up immediately (as per, feeling like say na me sabi law pass anybody) and said they couldn’t search any lady’s luggage unless there was a female officer there to supervise the search. Omo, see unleashing of wrath. All the Mopol men surrounded me immediately and threatened my life and person, dem just begin dey point gun at me, dey swear say dem go deal with me since I wanted to show them I’m a lawyer. Truly, God has always been my protection even when I didn’t know it at the time and dem no do anything, na only shout dem shout.

    But what struck me the most was the reaction of the other passengers. None of them begged for me, even the girl whose luggage they wanted to search and who I stood up for. If the Mobile Police had asked the car to drive off so they could truly deal with me (whether by raping and killing me afterwards), I had no doubt that my driver and passengers would have zoomed off. That experience sobered me. My dear, I understand why some people dey hold their mouth, e no too dey easy to stand up for social justice …

  6. Thatgidigirl

    August 26, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I was at the Vfs office in lekki last week, and this old lady was called to submit her application form/documents. Apparently she couldn’t comprehend a lot of questions on that form ( u know how annoying ukba forms can be), hence she didn’t fill it out properly. The Vfs staff attending to her spent longer than normal trying to help her out with the forms, while his colleages kept making snide remarks and laughing at the lady. It was glaring that they were making fun of this lady and it really got me livid, because my mum is prolly within that woman’s age bracket and could have been in her shoes. Every other person waiting to submit just sat there acting like the Vfs staff were the ones issuing the visas and didn’t want to get on their bad side by challenging them. It was at this point at spoke to the lady attending to me, cos she was the one with the loudest laugh and by the time I was done, I could tell she was offended and i didn’t give a crap! I think it all comes down to empathy, that is a major motivation to act or speak out.

  7. Unsocial Butterfly

    August 26, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Oh Atoke, u make mondays incredible. I alws look forward to it, thank u for this. To the topic on being a good samaritan, i guess some people dont speak up because they just wanna mind their buisness, am guilty of this telling myslf that i dnt want no trouble but there are some times that i speak up because i cant take it. That said, i wld look out for people who are not treated right. There is this quote i know “it is a good thing to stand up for your slf, the better thing however is standing up for some one else”. Hv a fruitful&blessed wk every1 ,i know i will :*

  8. Teris

    August 26, 2013 at 9:59 am

    poignant reflections, indeed.

    much as i am tripped by ur article, what has me tripping more this morning is how u are able to paint a picture of Lagos-living with such words as “…I took advantage of the sun being out and had some …
    ‘light showers’ started and we had to dash inside. It was TV time. On TV, there was a program called “Eye Spy”…”

    it’s the best thing when u find ur niche, or a job you love. cheers.

    • tutsie

      August 26, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Actually, based on last week’s column, there’s a belief that Atoke might have ported out of Naija 🙂

  9. Non professional opinion

    August 26, 2013 at 10:05 am

    @Atoke, sometimes I forget that there is a human being that creates the topics that we come here to debate about. Thanks for taking the time to bring some levity into our Monday’s, and best of luck with all your writing. Chimamanda must watch out!
    As for the topic, I’m the unrepentant Voltron of the universe , and I get burnt on the regular, but it doesn’t phase me. It’s important for people to stand up for others or tyranny will reign, but I agree that in Nigeria, where bullies are rampant, self interest always seems to come first.
    That being said in the face of an angry machete wielding mob, I suggest you err on the side of caution.

  10. DOO

    August 26, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Hmmm, very deep Atoke. Many thanks for this.

  11. Omo1

    August 26, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Nice write up. We all sure do have a part to play. But why is Sanaa Lathan’s photo the feature of this write up though..

  12. NAINI

    August 26, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Bystander effect don dey worry Naija too

  13. ellaine bella

    August 26, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Speak up for some1 2day

  14. Akukua

    August 26, 2013 at 10:49 am

    This reminds me of a story a friend of who stays in a flat in Johannesburg told me. he said that late one night him and his roommate heard a woman screaming “like she was getting raped” across the road from the flat. This screaming went on for a while and soon most of the inhabitants in the block of flats were peeping out their balconies trying to figure out what was going on. so i asked him what they did….and the answer was “nothing. what were we supposed to do? what if the man who was raping her had a gun?”…..What would you guys do??

  15. Tess

    August 26, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Thanks Atoke, your topic is really something worth reflecting upon. BTW I especially like how seriously you take your commitment to your weekly writing, even when you don’t have the faintest clue what to write. May you continue to rise higher and higher.

  16. eniola

    August 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    God bless you always Atoke. I mind my business always but if for some reasons best known to you, you decide to take me for a ride by being rude or aggressive towards me, you go hear ham!

  17. Ada Nnewi

    August 26, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I’ve never been one to be quiet when people are taking a piss or being unfair to others…love this article..

  18. natty

    August 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I was guilty of not speaking out for others, but as I grew up, I started with speaking out for myself then I started speaking up for others. This reminded me of an episode I had in fidelity bank in PH, some silly cashier was forcing me to accept dead worn out naira notes, knowing fully well that a lot of people will reject the money. So that’s how she started raising her voice complaining and nagging about the notes I was returning and forcing me to take them. I held my peace and instead of raising my voice back at her I simply kept on returning the worn out notes to her. Till the man behind me got angry at the teller and said if I wasn’t satisfied with the money she should give me new notes instead of wasting everybody’s time, that got the attention of one of her bosses and she gave me new notes.

  19. didabliz

    August 26, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    can’t stand it! i’ve gotten burnt a million and one times standing up for total strangers! i just can’t seem to find it in me to keep quite or ignore…#Godhelpme
    Tanx A, God bless you!

  20. Ok o

    August 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Hmh,….u should come to America.U will see that a lot.Nigerians dey try small sef,but the good thing about the Americans is that someone will call 911 to report.But for Naija,you go fear for your life.

  21. GREAT

    August 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Atoki toks…..always on point.keep challenging us.I had the bird and bees talk with my younger brother this weekend….hmn am rily proud of myself thanks to you and all the comments.Sure this piece will definitely help me too.Thanks.

  22. nikky

    August 26, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I always mind my business, but i end up feeling like shit for not doing anything especially knowing that if the roles could be reversed and I’m the one facing wahala with no one to speak up for me it will suck big time. I remember one time I was at Ikotun waiting for a bus to iyana ipaja, Sunday rush, whenever any bus shows up people just pushed and shoved to get in, my high heel nor allow me fight for bus so I stand for one corner dey observe. I noticed this particular guy always at the front struggling but never getting in, after the third bus left I began to feel sorry for him, I started rooting for him in my mind because he was just full of energy but still not able to get a seat in d bus. The fourth bus came and this guy was at the forefront pushing and shoving, then I noticed he was intentionally giving way to others he was more interested in struggling with people with head phones on, he gets really close to them in the pretense of struggling for bus he systematically pulls the earphones exposing your phone or mp3, he disconnects it while struggling with his unsuspecting victims and shoves it in his pocket. My jaw dropped, there was a mobile police man around collecting money from danfo very close by and our eyes met, I was still in shock, my instinct was to tell him that the guy in front of us is a pick pocket, but for some reason I just couldn’t and I felt horrible, i saw something wrong and I didn’t say anything. Even remembering it now still makes me feel bad.

    In hindsight what if I said something the policeman would have taken the pickpockets loot for himself after all he was there collecting egunje and nobody was speaking up for the drivers.

    • slice

      August 26, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      chai!

  23. TA

    August 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Atoke of life! How are u doing girl? May your well of ideas never run dry. @ topic,hmmm this good Samaritan thing just touched a nerve o,going downory lane. one monday morning in 2008, I was a corper rushing to work along the Lekki expressway. I was on a bike and just after the Lekki phase 1 gate , I met an accident involving an Okada man and his passenger who was obviously going to work. Okada man wasn’t so injured but the passenger had a serious head injury and was bleeding profusely,I stopped and tried to help,but what would I do,flagged down vehicles none stopped or even bothered to inquire how they could help. I remembered the police post near The palms,this was way before the present perimeter fence cut off the access road from The palms to the express road,anyway police men I met there said they don’t handle accident cases and told me to go to Oniru police station. I got there and they just kept dilly dallying, eventually one officer followed me there. on our way,he kept saying I must be new in Lagos because, People in Lagos don’t like to help as he claimed. I told him its because they are afraid they would be falsely accused by you people I told him. Sadly,when we got to the scene, the man was dead. In all,about 30 mins had passed since I first arrived at the scene, maybe the man would have survived if he had received prompt medical attention. I wantedto rave and rant at the bystanders most of whom iI met at the scescene but did nothing more than stare and curse the vehicle that they claimed had knocked the man down but didn’t stop, I wanted to badly cuss the police for their very slow and sloppy response. I also wanted to badly cuss the govt agencies for not providing quick response emergency systems,but I was too numb to rant or rave. When I later told my superiors at work they praised me for being a good Samaritan but sternly warned me not to attempt such in future as some innocent persons were in kiri kiri for less. its been 6 years since the incident and I have grown up some but would I do it again? I would.

    • slice

      August 26, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      o that’s so sad. sorry you went through that

  24. Naveah

    August 26, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    What has Sanaa Lathan’s picture got to do with the topic, abeg? BN, y’all need to be mindful of using celebrity pictures without their permission, don’t think that because they are US celebs that the don’t know you exist. Last time, you used Kenya Moore, I brought it to your attention and you removed it. This time it is Sanaa. Okay o, make una dey play with fire just like those Nollywood producers who will use people’s songs in their movies and not pay them. These people make money off their images and they don’t take kindly to it being used without their permission. I don tok my own finish.

  25. mia

    August 26, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    i was brought up to speak up and express myself. even my parents know i can take them up on issues any time they do something wrong. nuffin ticks me off as much as a man treating his wife wrongly or disrespectfully in my presence. i once told a guy that i don’t care what goes on in your home, but as long as u’re talking to me about your wife or u’re relating with her in my presence, it must be done with some level of respect. my husband once asked me why i am not a human rights lawyer fighting for women.

  26. Ready

    August 26, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    It makes me very sad actually, when I see injustice and don’t speak out, or when people see it and say nothing. How can someone be robbing a car driver in front of you, and there are dozens of cars around and no-one can try to help, even if it’s by slamming a car into the robber? Since I was little, I could barely look when policemen would stop bus drivers for N20…I believe we should show our cops care, for instance bottles of water in the hot sun, etc…but bribe collection isn’t one of the things we should just allow to happen.
    I understand though…it’s how the country has come to be. A stranded woman by her car at night can be assisting robbers, a child screaming in the bushes may be a voodooist’s ruse. Still, it’s painful to just sit and look. I try to do my bit…once when I took public transport, LASTMA officials stopped the driver of the bus I was in; said he maneuvered. All the driver did was hesitate before choosing a side to turn to, and these dudes were trying to force him out of the bus. Thankfully, most people in the bus began to shout at the LASTMA officials…a woman went overboard by going “I have marked you; remember today’s date, you will die because you are wicked.”..creepy. But yeah, people begged/shouted on the driver’s behalf, and LASTMA released him.
    My boyfriend often tells me that I can’t solve everything, and I should let some things go. But guys, remember the young doctor who was shot dead in his car because he wouldn’t give his things to the robber who eventually ran off on a bike? It was a busy road! And the dude went away scotfree, why didn’t someone attempt to hit him? Panel beater fees would have been so worth it.
    Lagosians especially are so impatient…we see an accident victim, and all we can think of is “gotta get to work”; that’s a dying person! We hear a man beating his wife, and it becomes gist. I don’t have solutions, and I don’t always help either, but I’m glad Atoke brought it up. At the end of the day, I just try to do what I want done to me.

  27. Graciemama

    August 27, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Atoke, ur write ups make my days when i read them. I look forward to reading more of u and writing articles such as this. God bless you real good.

  28. A-z

    August 28, 2013 at 4:43 am

    Atoke, nice write up as always.
    Pls where are you? I hope Monday morning banters won’t be @ risk sha lol

  29. dami

    August 28, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Atoke is definitely in UK. That show is a UK one. Actually
    it depends on the kinda help. If I know I’m at risk then I’d keep
    my mouth shut. I don’t like when people are being racist or
    homophobic. Or even discrimination cuz of disability.

  30. mama

    September 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    what irks me about nigerians is when you are demanding better custome service and people just look ate you like you talk too much or being fake…..yes some of us travel and have live abroad but we are now back home and we know the right thing to do…..we cant all keep complaining about nigeria and then dont do the right thing….i speak up when i see people do the wrong thing as often as i can….e.g i was at the counter of one of the domestic airlines at MMA 2 ikeja sometime this year….an indian guy had a challenge with his ticket and was trying to be heard….he obviously was asking for something and the lady was just so nonchalant…..i was already annoyed at her attitude but dint say anything at that time…cant remember exactly his problem but he started to raise his voice and say this was not the first time he had had this problem and he wanted the matter resolved….lo and behold one of the staff then said he should stop shouting and that if he was in his country would he try that rubbish….that was when me too join the matter..it became a shouting session with the other passengers till i insisted to see the manager and ensure they sorted stuff out….sometimes you just are careful cos of the way things are done in naija but for the most part people need to insist on their rights and that of others, you might not always be successful but we have to start somewhere…..one day we will get there

  31. mama

    September 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    …sorry for the typos……

  32. joke

    October 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    It makes me feel sad wen I know I could help but didn’t. I use 2 be a very gud Samaritan but I had learnt 2 keep shut thru a schhol mate some years ago. This good guy was d SUG pes of my school den n was in his finals, he was going thru Obalende n heard a woman screaming was help dere were oda passer by but on reflex he ran up 2 d bridge 2 help d woman while trying 2 resuscitate her she died n almost immediately a police Van came by n surprisingly all does dat were dere b4 d guy got dere couldn’t say anything wen d officers arrested d guy saying he killed 5 woman. It was just God’s grace n a lot of money spent dat vindicated d guy n he had an extra year 4 it 2. Since den he told me Kolori di ori e mu(all man 4 himself)

  33. Maafia

    February 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Atoke, you write well. Keep using that pen

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