Two days ago I was discussing with Juliet when I started showing her some files in my laptop. Then I made a statement that made her frown and scowled at me. What did I say? Nothing o. I just told her I was showing her all the files in my laptop so that if I die tomorrow she will not find it difficult in publishing my unpublished works. But this line has always made me and my fiancée fight. She hates me talking about my death in such a “cold, deliberate and unaffected way”, as she puts it. And I can’t just understand why she and every other person like her can’t talk about death in such a way.
I understand that she loves me so much and will like to see me live forever. But that is not possible. I will die, she will die, you will die; we will all die. Your thinking about it or not thinking about it can’t stop this from happening. I’m a dreamer, but I’m also a realist. So since dying is inevitable why not think it, plan for it and laugh at its face when it comes? I have never been afraid of death, dying, dead bodies and ghosts. Maybe this attitude has helped me see beyond the mist in a society were a lot of mythical yarns are spun around the concept of death and dying. These yarns ranges from the ludicrous to the damn right misleading… misleadings that can lead one to hell.
One of these misleading is that you don’t speak evil of the death. For years I have seen terrorized wives and children who are celebrating inside that their shekau father and husband is dead, step up the podium and speak of how great the dead man was and Oh how they will miss him. How can the living speak so much lies about the dead? Is there any evil that can be spoken about the dead more than lying he lived like a saint while he didn’t? Is lying not supposed to be a hell bound sin?
So when the alarms of Alams dead sounded a week ago the choice was simple: lie or tell the truth. The truth is that Alams died a money launderer and a looter of our commonwealth. That is not speaking evil of the dead, its speaking the truth about the dead. Diepriye ALAMIEYESEIGHA might be in heaven, God might has forgiven him, but that is God’s business. My business is to tell the truth and make heaven and the truth is that the man Alams looted our treasury and stole from us. This doesn’t mean he is the only thief, but he is one of them. That we might never catch all doesn’t mean we should canonize the ones we have caught. Alams was a thief, period.
A society that is not bold enough to call a thief a thief cannot provide the moral motivation for its citizens to aspire to righteous living. Ahmadu Bello, the late Sarduana of Sokoto said “We cannot gloss over facts and expect problems to solve themselves.” For long the African society has used death as a means of turning villains into heroes, incompetence into competence, and crooks into saints. Death has become the end of the beginning of gods. Whenever a man dies his glaring errors dies with him and whisperings of greatness he never attain begins, with the passage of time such whisperings take the form of legend and we gather a bunch of lies to tell our children about heroes of the past that never existed. We must stop this plundering of our legacy.
In 1990 this is what Anthony Enahoro said “General Murtala Mohammed was an intense man. Some people thought him violent and short tempered. It was never quite certain whether he had difficulty in expressing himself or whether he had some undisclosed purpose in appearing slow. Martyrdom has dealt very kindly with him.” The point is because he died he became a hero. Because President Yardua died he became a hero. Welcome to Nigeria where all you need to become a hero is to die.
Let’s not allow this culturally installed fear of death make us lose the grasp of the big picture. Stand for what is right and condemn what is evil, dead or living evil. And don’t speak any good thing about any dead that will turn you into a liar. Some of these crooks still alive are gladly waiting to die, for they know that they will be canonized saints afterwards. Let’s wake up and deny them this joy. Let the crooks know that one day they will all die and let they know too that dead or alive there is no hiding place for them.
We will bury Diepriye ALAMIEYESEIGHA and we will remember him as the governor who became a thief.
First Baba Isa writes from Abuja