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Jennifer Nagu: Baby in the Gorilla Pen Saga Makes You Wonder About the Value of One Nigerian Life

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dreamstime_l_4395006A few weeks ago, animal right activists protested the killing of a gorilla “Harambe” who was shot Monday in the Cincinnati Zoo. The shooting of the gorilla was to allow authorities rescue a child who had fallen into the animal’s enclosure. A change petition even called for the parents of the 3 year old boy to be held responsible for the death of Harambe, the 17-year-old male gorilla. The petition garnered over 300,000 Signatures in the USA alone.

Watching the video rather intently from the little screen of my personal computer gave me chills. I most certainly feared for the toddler when the ape in a swift motion, dragged the toddler flat on his back, from one end of the enclosure’s moat to the other.
Despite widespread criticism of the shooting, the zoo authorities said they would make the same decision again.

Whether the gorilla should have been killed or not? I leave to providence to decide; however, what interests me the most is how seemingly obsessed some people are with the life of this gorilla. It is such that they have come to believe that an animal’s life is worth more than a human’s. The notion of human life being more valuable than an animal’s is debatable to many.  However, to me human life takes precedence. Don’t get me wrong. Both humans and animals both have “worth”, but humans have much more worth than animals.

Why is that?

This is because, humans have brought more progress and advancement to the world than other species. Humans have the power of imagination, the power to visualize things, to be self aware and to question existence. Lastly, humans  possess great potential to make contributions to science, medicine, the arts, which inturn touches the lives of other species. All these reasons are irrefutable. According to calculations  by economists in the united states on estimates to how much it takes to maintain life from birth to death, the figure is given at $9.1million. This is a bit up from the $6.8 million figure set from years before.

If figuratively and philosophically life is worth this much,then life should be treated preciously; and when lost, should be mourned profoundly.

I was walking down a popular street in the Ikeja, Lagos last week, when I spotted a helpless looking man wearing a clean shirt, and blue tie to match. He lay flat on his back with no signs to show that he was conscious. By this time a crowd had gathered: arms folded, shaking heads, passing comments and feeling sorry over the situation.

I moved close enough to see blood gushing off the side of his neck. It was a gory sight. The blood seemed fresh and flowed like the River Niger.
The police officers at the far end of the road operated like it was business as usual. I broke out in hives of protest shooting a sudden question at my companion, “Why is nobody trying to find help? Why are the police Officers carrying a non-chalant attitude to a matter as urgent as saving a  life? Would he be left to die like that?

It is no secret that in Nigeria there is little regard for human life. Lives like the man in my story, are lost en-mass everyday. And business goes on as usual. My colleague at the office came in with story of a fatal accident he witnessed on his way to work. A drunken trailer driver had run into a commercial bus carrying over 16 passengers. Blood flowed everywhere.  In such a situation who takes responsibility to ensure that our roads are not overtaken by killer drivers? So many unanswered questions.

Perhaps as a country we should begin to ponder on how far we are willing to go to keep everybody safe, healthy, and alive. Let’s consider whose responsibility it is to protect lives, and let us hold them accountable.
We should also consider how much time are we willing to invest to ensure that someday a death of one Nigerian is seen as critical and steps are taken to prevent loss of lives in the future.

Even as we struggle to provide answers to these questions in our minds and as a nation, my thought is this: no one can value your life as much as YOU do. You owe yourselves that much favor. So watch out for yourselves FIRST. Stay out of trouble. Live healthy. Don’t Drink and Drive. Watch your Kids for petesake! And always stay Vigilant .

Just because life is valuable and has no spare!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Jennifer Nagu is a Lagos based Freelance-writer, editor and Aviation professional, specializing in Aviation, wellness and travel related matters. She has published work with notable media platforms across Africa, like Ynaija of the Red media group, Guardian Nigeria Newspaper, New York based wellness publication Thrive global, founded by mogul Arianna Huffington and Ndalo media's Habari Magazine. She holds a degree in communications from Covenant univerity and an IATA diploma in Airline Quality diploma from Geneva.

12 Comments

  1. UNCLE GWE GWE GWE

    June 9, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Life is very cheap in this part of the world.

    • Tina

      June 9, 2016 at 2:16 pm

      And what did you do to help the man you witnessed with blood gushing out of his head?

  2. Amaka

    June 9, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    They made a very sound decision. If the child had died another group of people would have signed another petition. As per the Nigerian life, the police has to be thorouly equipped. You cannot compare the benefits the American system has for the Police and family to Nigeria. How well protected are they? If they die in the course of duty, what happens to their spouses and family? How regularly do they train?. The government must do something about the condition of the police force. You don’t get the best of American workers for free, if you owe an employee in the USA, he can sue you. Rights and Responsibilities are serious issues in the Western World. Only exceptional people like Mandella, Ghandi, Martin Luther King etc follow their passion not knowing whether they will be rewarded or not.

  3. Seun

    June 9, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    On the issue of the child that fell in the zoo,that was fueled mainly by racism,bigotry and intolerance.The response would have been a lot different, if that kid was white,hate-filled minds just need anything to trigger their bad mindset.One the issue of been your brothers keeper.
    Nigerians cares a lot in the past,but due to the bad government and the poor state of the economy, poor police force ,that can rope you in falsely for helping ,and the money first mentality of our hospitals,all this contributes to the lack of empathy,now is everybody for himself God for us all.

    • "changing moniker"

      June 9, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      that was exactly my thought….i felt bad the gorilla had to die, but i would NEVER choose a gorilla over a human life……those people petitioning are wicked people….racist that don’t even care enough to hide their true selves…..
      Imagine if it was a white kid……
      May God help us all, to see humanity before colour.

  4. Zeeebby

    June 9, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    you see a badly injured person in Nigeria, and your heart wants to help the person to the hospital but your brain reminds you that Nigerian police go arrest you as the first suspect…. or u get to the hospital and the person dies, the hospital go lock you for toilet till police get there and put you inside cell. IT IS WELL WITH NIGERIA

  5. kkay

    June 9, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Sad. Nigeria, God help thee and thy people.

    Some people even kill others out of envy for such things as earthly possessions, political ambitions, or one’s children being more successful than theirs.
    Kidnapping has become a money-making venture without attracting capital punishment. Basic things (necessities ) are seen as luxury because successive administrations have failed to serve the people but their insatiable greed.

    Our leaders travel out and see how far advanced the Western world is. They and their children come back and speak “phoné” (American/British accent ) in the midst of all the squalor.

  6. Preshest

    June 9, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Nagu! Good write up. I mean, the value of human life ehn, even in this part of the universe, is sadly insignificant. Nobody can be bothered to care for the other person. Was it not yesterday we read in the news that a lady in Kano was mobbed to death by some ignorant sect? It’s sad.
    Again, we should not neglect our little effort to voice out. There may be a time when we are powerless to prevent injustice, let there never be a time when we fail to protest it.

  7. molarah

    June 9, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Thanks for this piece. Unfortunately, this is what you get in a society that believes in evolution and considers humans as just a slightly higher form than apes. With this thinking, it is not hard to see why they consider a human life on equal terms with that of a gorilla. The problem is, when one starts to think this way, there is no real reason to associate with humanity again: you may as well call yourself a beast since you have more sympathy for animals than humans. And yes, I sensed a tinge of racism in that brouhaha as well.

    • Ajala & foodie

      June 9, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      @ molarah, you know this article is addressed to us Nigerians. Following your train of thought., the American society believes in evolution and there in lies the problem in that part of the world. So what is the excuse we have? We don’t believe in evolution in our society yet we treat humans even worse than those that do. Like someone rightly pointed out should something have happened to that kid another set of people would have risen up in that same society to cry out against that. What I see is a society thatt places value on things living. At the end of the day,the kid was saved and the zoo management insist that they will do the same and no charges filed against the parents. That to me does not appear like a society that does not understand and appreciates human life. so if a belief in evolution is what has made a society like that than I would say we need more people believing in evolution if that will make us more humane as a country. A belief system is not to blame for desenstizing us humans, many of us only use our belief systems as a crutch for innate selfish desires and wickedness.

  8. Just my 1 Cents

    June 9, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    I always tell Nigerians who are obsessed about living abroad for the sake of a “better standard of living” or “education” to realize that all that glitters is not gold. These developed countries (I can speak specifically for the US) value and treat animals better than Black people, and that’s just a brutal fact.

    Have you guys even read the recent story of the black man wrongly accused of rape and just recently freed after 5 years. And a white man accused of rape and other disgraceful acts (witnessed by 2 other men) and convicted to 6 months in jail. Did you guys hear about the lead poisoning incident in Michigan in which the gov authorities intentionally disregarded the fact that a community with mostly black residents where drinking water poisoned with extraordinary amounts of lead? So many other stories out there. Just read their news.

    You may be getting a better road, decent health care, and 24 hours light, but I always say Black people in U.S. are slaves living in a different generation. Until the day we realize that, we will finally free ourselves from the mental slavery of abroad or die.

    We have serious issues in Nigeria that cannot be fixed in 1 year or by Buhari and any future president alone. Our whole mentality has to change first and it will take the effort of this new generation to make Nigeria better. I just wished people stopped complaining and start taking action. Africa is the future my dear people. I can already see a lot of influence that Africans from the diaspora are making in their countries, and I hope in continues. Let’s strive to make our country and government better.

  9. Henry

    June 12, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Hey! Human life is not worth more because of what humans can do. But because of who we are. We are worth more because we are Human. Period.

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