They are the tears from mama Caro, when she had her seventh child – a female. Again. They are songs of sorrow she silently sang, while she shut her eyes and let the tears fall. It was fear, as she looked into Nkoli’s beautiful face, smiling toothlessly.
It was fear that Noli might not be loved, because all the people she had called to tell them of her delivery had asked for the sex of the baby, and had said ‘again?’ She heard a hint of guilt in their voices, and knew they had meant to say it but not say it loud enough for her to hear. It was worse when people came to visit and referring to Noli’s bald head had said ” oh, this baby should have pitied you and come as a boy na”; they said this mournfully, shook their heads and patted her on her shoulder telling her to take heart.
The worst was when her husband told his people his wife had been delivered of a baby girl and they had pursed their lips and said nothing.
It was silence – pregnant with words.
It was the song mama Caro sang when her knees touched the hard unevenly cemented floor, telling God that she knew her daughters might not be entirely loved by their family, but they should have the strength, self love and enough wisdom to always forge ahead. That the venom of humans should not mar the pureness and love oozing from their little hearts.
These songs make me sad.
It is the voice of … let me call him Arziki – for I do not know his name. We just met today as we sit on the floor of this NYSC parade field – tired and aching and we get talking. The pain in his eyes glaring when he tells me his friend was buried alive. Why? I ask. He says her bride price had been paid when she was born and as a grown lady, she refused to marry the old man she was betrothed to. Arziki tells me she was buried up to her shoulder, and her head was stoned till she could inhale air no more. He says so many barbaric things happen in the north, but we do not get to know about it. I know he speaks the truth, because I know people who have gone there whole, and have come back with amputated limbs.
He tells me the story of a lady who was gang raped until strength walked away from her bones, and then a knife was driven into her vagina.
At this point, I beg him to say no more, but then, he also tells me how he rescued a boy from being lynched by calling emergency security service while he was still being beaten. I saw the glow in his eyes as he speaks of it. He saved a life.
These songs make me sad.
They are the voices of politicians, when they say telephone isn’t meant for the poor, or when they say ‘go and die’ or when they tell students to do their worst. It hurts more that their children who all school in expensive foreign schools look down the bridge of their noses at Nigerian students and believe that their corrupt and callous parents should be worshipped when in fact, it should be the other way round. It’s saddening when the citizens who are being robbed wear matching attires and support these politicians after being given a bowl of rice and 200 naira .
It hurts because dear citizens are mostly cowards and selfish – only after the satisfaction of their bellies. It is the fact that we look the other way and become mysteriously blind when the country is milked dry, because it doesn’t affect us directly, and when it does, cowardice prevents us from speaking against it.
I do not know why I’m thinking about this right now. I am outside my hostel, earpieces deep in my ears – listening to Enya. I remember my sister – she says I listen too much to songs that sound sorrowful, and I am smiling while watching my fellow Corp members walk to and fro. I watch their faces, laughter slashing the evening air, beautiful ladies and guys holding hands, the bustling of the evening is a beautiful sight and the happiness floating beneath the skies is infectious.
Still, I am here, watching every human passing and wondering if they will rescue a dying person, or turn their faces the other way. I am wondering if these happy faces I am seeing here will contribute to the progress of our nation in future, or will turn a blind eye and say it isn’t their business. I am wondering if their voices will be part of the songs that make me sad.
I am worried because I already hear some of them saying horrible stuff about other tribes, and I am appalled that even the educated ones are encaged by tribalism and stereotypes. I am worried because during lectures,when we discussed mental illness, sexual assault and rape, most of the Corp members were fit to burst with laughter, and I wonder how we would become leaders of tomorrow, if we laugh over horrendous actions.
You see, I have come to realise that the major problem of beings – are beings. It is fellow humans that kill humans, the politicians that rob us are humans, the intolerant ones and the bomb carriers are humans. And sometimes, I try to imagine what goes through human minds when we commit these grievous atrocities.
Now I am on my bunk lying down with my face up, and I am still thinking about this. I have come to the conclusion that we need more love in the world, or what do you think?. It is only love that wouldn’t make you turn the other way when a fellow being is being burnt. It is love that would hinder you from forcing yourself on a lass, knowing fully well that that action could mar her for life. Love would make you patriotic, selfless, it would make you want to build your nation, not only for yourself, but also for generations yet born. It is love that’ll make you raise a fallen brother, extend a helping hand to someone.
It is not enough to say ‘eeya’ when something negative happens to other people.It isn’t enough to cry over newspaper headlines when 200 people get bombed in Borno. Empathy cannot change the world, only love can.
Love feels the need to change a negative situation, love feels the need to impart positively in someone else’s life, that is because love can’t just fold her arms and watch.
Love will make you respect other tribes and races, knowing fully well that we are all humans. Love will make you sheath your swords and broker peace, pull peace closer to you and clasp its arms around your waist.
Love would tell you revenge isn’t as sweet as your imagination whispers to you, it will explain to you that only weak people become vindictive, that is because they let anger tell their head where to go, when it should be the other way round.
You see, you can only love others when you love yourself and realise that we are all one – bound by blood and breath and we shouldn’t let the bond of fellow flesh, feed our spite.
My eye lids are drooping now and I want to sleep, tomorrow might be another long day, my ear piece is still plugged in and I’m listening to Cece Winas. I have realised too now, that all these would never be complete, if I do not mention the love of God and His only begotten Son. When you realise that we are all created in His image and we are all humans – special and unique in our individualism, you would come to realise that we all need each other to grow.
You need me, I need you. We need one another. We need more love.
Do you agree?
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