A Silent time for a silent beginning

A time comes when silence is betrayed. That time comes to us even when justice is ignored. When justice is either ignored or betrayed, a serene and silent moment ushers a new form of thought reflection. The breaking of human inner-thought comes as a fresh beginning to voice those wrongs that confront human lives on a daily basis. Breaking those inner feelings requires us to reflect on those wounds that perpetuate tribalism, those pains that replicate social inequalities and those human anguish that precipitates economic melt-down which altogether confronts Nigeria and the world at large. The breaking of this inner silence invokes the moral voice of reason to desist from genuflecting to corrupt powers and forces sweltering in injustice and human hatred. Breaking this inner silence call our minds to invoke the God of our own understanding to judge with pity the actions of men and the neglectful activities of our sacred leaders. Neglectful activities in whatever  manner it comes have hindered human progress at all levels. In Nigeria those neglectful activities are manifold. They are manifold if we consider them from the dimension of poor recreational facilities and poor human infrastructures. They are manifold if we look at them from the standpoint of reducing human lives to a mere industrial piece of metals from China. They are manifold if we consider them from the standpoint of human failure to balance the equilibrium in social inequalities of the day. They are manifold if we consider them from Dalai Lama experience in Tibet and Beijing. These experiences are manifold when we look at them from drawing an enemy line between one religion and another.

Again and again, these and many other conditions are among the many economic and social denials that cause Igbo folks to sleep on the floor, took only a cold shower (instead of hot); and generally followed other practices of self abnegation. Some pundits think that by breaking the silence of injustice, negligence and betrayal and by simple fact that those perpetrators of human atrocities not knowing reasons behind it; these acts themselves are amorphous and hard to pin down. Yes, we call for human attention to break the silence of betrayal because Muslim values which hold war and violence to a highest esteem are antithesis to Christian’s pacifist beliefs. The beliefs and advocacy of christians and Igbo folks are simple. They are simple because christians and Igbofolks love democracy, religious freedom and human rights. And when these human rights are not met, Igbo man becomes hypersensitive about unrest and separatism in a country of plenty. Treating a particular region better than others or treating one religion  as a specimen for slaughter and according the slaughters political credibility they do not deserve calls to mind the source of Igbo folk’s hypersensitivity.

          Even as you may disagree with me, such time comes even when confronted by the challenges of tribal aggressions. At all times, men of good conscience does not easily assume taking the luxury of opposing their government inactivity or social negligence especially in times of religious fanaticism, moral erosion, social isolation and tribal distrust. These men I believe do not engage in such luxury because of the obvious outcome of being accused of engaging in tribal or political disobedience. I know fully well that I cannot again and again raise my inner voice of conscience against the violence taking place in the North without first speaking on the daily pains of human sabotage, and on human kidnapping and brothers lynching their fellow brothers in the name of economic acquisition and religious fundamentalism. I know I cannot list those psychiatric atrocities associated with injustice and tribalism on both the home front and national scene. What does the North think of Igbo folks, when they watch and hear that our own brothers and sisters are frequently murdered and lynched in urban churches and cities in the North with their Holy Bibles burnt in open cities of religious fanaticism! Again, what does they think about how we feel of such killings just as Germans tested new medicines and new  tortures in concentration camps and in the slumps of Eastern and Western Europe! What in the world do they think, about how we feel of such injustice and enduring social marginalization, just as slave-masters put Negros to the worst form of human annihilation and intolerance!

          Is it because there is nothing evidently left to build for Igbo man’s inner and marginal bitterness? Is it because there is nothing of human endurance that will uplift Igbo folk’s human spirit? Is it because there is limited ambition to justify Igbo man’s economic negligence? Is it because christians and Igbo folks have lost their economic, social, and religious dynamism and importance? Is it because these atrocities have aided in defaming Igbo folks sincere pursuit of happiness, where their ambition decreased in relative obscurity? Even when his fame decreases, should christians and Igbo folks be pushed further and further into economic and religious obscurantism? No, it is not right for a faith and a tribe to be forgotten or to be reduced to a worst form of human negligence. As a lover of global justice, I am deeply met by bitter understandable mistrust to speak for a tribe and to explain their absolute lack of political confidence in Northern authoritarianism and especially in Eastern economic distrust which consequently leaves nothing at stake for religious and tribal intent. Based on persistent marginal confrontations and multiple anti-religious freedoms, christians and Igbo folks demand the maturity of the North and the courageousness of the East to fight Nigerian economic and religious differences as a nation. Igbo folks demand that the North should not overlook the fierce urgency of Nigerian economic conditions and their conservative Christian faith in worshipping the God of their own understanding. They demand therefore the nobility of the East and the royalty of South-West to fight these religious and economic conflicts as a nation. They demand that all should come together and ride in one Zion train of sisterhood, alighting together as a family to meet at one table of corporate brotherhood. They equally demand that all should put asunder tongues, customs and ethnic affiliations but employ that singular deity and that deeper mode of communication (English) as medium of interaction and association. Therefore, employing a common or national mode of expression will help overcome sectional intents forged by indirect rule. Employing that common means will help break the silence of despotism, the painful show of classism, and the unacceptable spirit of tribalism. These lofty efforts will help reinvent the face of a sectional nation divided by different religious convictions. As I call attention to tribal unity in Nigerians, I persuade that whoever can find sustainable alternative to Nigerian tribal affirmation and the ongoing of sectional religious conflicts that have continued to precipitate and cause the current rumbling of discord and riots, will have his noble name set in the preservation of a nation. An alternative to tribalism will bring the North, South, West and the East into one table of ethnic and religious brotherhood. An alternative to sectionalism will bring all regions into one faith-universal. An alternative to the prescriptions of  religious riots will bring Christians, Muslims, Pentecostals and traditional religionists in one symphony of national accord.

          From time immoral, riot and war has not done people any good. Religious lynching of human lives has not painted a good picture of a just society. Rather conflict destroys peace and creates a gulf between reason and human understanding. The Greeks and Romans illustrated human form of discord in the story of the beast and the bird. A long time ago, it was narrated that the birds and the beasts were at war with each other. They fought many hard and long battles. The bat was always on the winning side. When the birds were winning, he would fly to their side and say, “look, I have wings. I’m on your side. And when the beasts were winning, he would go to them and say, “Look at how furry I am.” I’m on your side.” The bat thought he was a cleaver bed-fellow. At last, the birds and the beasts stopped their fighting. After all, peace was better for both groups. However, neither the bird nor the beast ever trusted the bat again. Among humans, the bat was not trusted either. She is neither the bird of the air or animal on the land. Besides trust, the demand for  peace over conflict have for a very long time made known to mankind by Zeus, the king of the gods who watches over events from his mountain top throne to reward good deeds and punish evil actions. The Greek Gods always call our attention to peace and unity among groups; among winner and losers in a battle; among weak and the strong etc. Therefore, an alternative to tribalism will help eradicate this struggle.

          Even when these demands are met after we are gone; the people after us will continue to call the attention of christians and people from the East to develop firm determination in their economic anticipation hoping fervently that some day it will be okay. I therefore call on you to carry out these noble tasks bravely and courageously towards withstanding any psychiatric aggression with emotional serenity. Once again, I call on you to confront any psychiatric rumbling with soul-force. This is a new militancy model enforced by Martin Luther King Jr; Mahatma Gandhi and the host of other noble men of moral conscience. Through the principles of soul-force and through the enduring spirit of firm determination, sacred men of human liberation were able to achieve for their people what weapons of mass destruction and war-militancy were unable to achieve for a nation. A tribal nation like Nigeria, who years after years accommodates the death of millions of christians in the North, spend millions of Naria on OIC than programs of social, economic and moral uplift will always race towards spiritual death, cultural division, social isolation, religious division and consequently eternal damnation. Somehow, this psychiatric madness must cease to go on especially in these modern times of economic corruption, and political disengagement. Men and women from the East must make a deep effort to put Nigerian tribalism to a stop and work tirelessly to do away with any outcome of sectional misunderstanding that may arise in the process. Again and again, Igbo folks must not allow this psychiatric madness to destroy their dynamism and the creativity of their rational intellect. Igbo folks must not allow human forbearance to fail them at this moment of tribal reckoning. Let me repeat once more, nobody should allow religious or tribal madness to corrode his/her economic values or allow sectional sentiments to put both tribes at an opposing fronts.

          Therefore the new age social justice must hinge on equitable distribution of national resources and the uplift of the human spirit. This new age moral vision must lie in fostering unity in diversity and brotherhood in divisiveness. It must lie in forging unity and brotherhood at all matters of religious freedom and the freedom of tribal worship. The new age financial liberation must lie in economic empowerment that will usher financial alleviation to all peoples despite tribal origin or religious affiliations. These visions will continue to confront Nigerian departments and all national lives and private endeavors. Indeed, I am confident to inform you that these are visions rooted in Nigerian affirmation and sovereignty which I believe will continue to confront the Hitler’s and Mussolini’s of our times to respectfully drink from their own cup of mischievousness. Definitely, these visions will equally challenge their surrogates to wake-up spitefully in the same rude-awakenings. I therefore, speak as one who wishes that Nigerian nation and its people will one day come together, join forces and strengths together, and pull resources and skills together to become a solid nation. I speak ultimately, to persuade Nigerian leader to focus attention on tasks of human uplift and social transformation. I speak to persuade leaders to change the wary ways they engage in wasteful spending as well as to call on them to replace ambiguous priorities with projects of economic and human values with the hope to grant Nigerian citizens social freedom, cultural cohesion, religious tolerance and freedom of the press. To pursue these noble causes in a collective framework, will mean to empower the incapacitated, to energize the down-trodden, to inject hope into the bloodstream of the forgotten, and to help moralize the faith of the God of your own understanding so that, all can meet that singular deity at a singular time and in a serene silent place in order to shape a turning point in the Igbo man’s ambitious search for autonomy and religious freedom.

          So it was millions of years ago in the ghettos and slums of Egypt. So it was four decades ago during the Biafra war. So it was decades ago during the first and second world wars. So it was a century ago in Selma, in Alabama and in the horrorable slums of Detroit and Mississippi. In these unforgiving times and in these neglectful cities, suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their social, moral and religious rights. They put their wary grievances before the God of their own vision who empowered them deeply with courage to challenge their aggressors who afterwards met their confrontations and outcomes with soul-force. Even after they met social and economic calamity with soul-force, noble women and men were brutally assaulted. One good man, a man of God was killed- Martin Luther King, Jr. He died because; the great initiative to champion human liberation came from him. He died because he was convincing people to believe that the society was moving on a wrong direction. He died because he was shading light to people to see the thin line between injustice and justice; between darkness and light; between classicism and social inequality; between the pains of poverty and the affluence of richness; between peaceful negotiations at home front and the widening conflict at the international scene (Second World War). He died because he was shading light and dispelling darkness so that his people and the world could see the light at the other end of the tunnel. Luther died because he had a dream, an initiative which today has come true. Therefore, the great initiative to be a better nation is yours. The great initiatives to match riots and religious militancy with soul-force are yours. The great initiative to resolve tribal differences that hinders each tribe from coming together under one table of brotherhood is yours. Effort to arrive at that prevailing table of one brotherhood is yours. Therefore, if Nigeria must be a great nation, if all must match religious mutiny with soul-force, everybody then must come together and cease to live at diggers end. Coming together means there is no Northern Nigeria, No Southern Nigeria without the acknowledgement that there is no Southern problem without considering it a Northern issue. As such, there is no Islamic conflict without acknowledging that such conflict is a Christian problem.

          The recognition of these, opens new vista for cooperate understanding. It opens the succumbing window of your perspective to know that the world today is different from the world of yesterday. The recognition of the world of yesterday as you can testify has always been swallowed by the world that is yet to come. Today, the world is different because people living in the world no longer enjoy the fanfare and victories of tribalism or the clashing cymbals of sectionalism. Again, the world of today is different because of the transforming human spirit calling on all to come together in one symphony of collective freedom. Therefore, the freedom of the new age is symbolized in an end of any form of riot or conflict. This same freedom allows modern man to enjoy as well as begin anew a long journey of tribal change and political renewal. This is the same solemn oath Nigerian forbearers prescribed long ago. It is the same solemn oath that will continue to propagate unity and call on all and sundry to abhor hatred and tribal divisiveness. As new generation Nigerians, you are invited to follow the footsteps of your forbearers whose spirits and unwavering initiatives were balm and calm, even when they were tempered by Biafran war, disciplined by poverty, frustrated by bitterness and tribal wrangling, yet they were proud of their ancient tribal heritage even though they experienced colonial onslaught at the wake of the night. As history would have it, these forbearers and some heroes of good conscience permitted the slow undoing of those human rights to which Nigerian Oba’s, Emirs and some Warrant chiefs held to a high esteem, and to which you are today committed at home and in Diaspora.

        So let those who love freedom know that there will be no joy in Nigeria until people set aside differences and allow peace to reign. Let those who love tranquility knows that living at daggers end is inhuman and unprofitable. Let those who love sectionalism know that united a nation will grow strong but divided a tribe will grow cold and weak. This is true whether it wishes any tribe well or ill. This is true whether it wishes Muslims or Catholics well. This is true whether it wishes any family or region well or bad. It is true whether any human department in Nigeria bears any burden, meet any hardship, and oppose other tribes or faith in an effort to survive. On the other hand, let those who hate justice and liberty know that united there is little you cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Let those who love to scramble and partition for power know that divided, there is little you can do, for you dare not meet soul-force or tranquilizing drug of gradualism with tribal conflict. Let me repeat once more, you dare not meet a powerful challenge at odd that splits people asunder. Let people who lives in Slums, huts and villages in a country of deep oil reserve know that time is coming very soon for them to break that diabolic bond of human sufferings and misery. As John, F Kennedy would say: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” Therefore, it is the duty of leaders of rich oil nations to assist men and women of goodwill who are under the spell of tribal hegemony to engage in meaningful undertakings that sooths their balm. It is the duty of Leaders of commercial gas nation, to renew the face of their territory and prevent human society from becoming merely a forum for tribal incentives. Therefore, leaders of oil nations must strengthen its shield to both strong and the weak, to both men and woman, to both poor and rich, to both Islam and Christians, to both Hindus and Jews, to both lay man and traditional religionist with the hope of enlarging areas in which its writ may run.

          So let Nigeria nation begins anew, remembering that despite linguistic, sentimental or tribal differences that civility is not a sign of weakness, and that firm determination is always subject to a just proof. I therefore, call on Northern Caliphates and all Eastern money politicians to both explore what problems unites Nigerian nation instead of intensifying those obvious that divides the country. I therefore call on all political godfathers in the East and money-bags in the North to both eradicate those frontiers that shatter the vision of peace and unity. Let both tribes for the first time formulate serious and precise proposals for the moderation of regional conflicts and war and the escalation of bitterness and aggression. Let both sides bring tyranny and human lynching under absolute control. Let both sides begin now to delete those pains and atrocities that have found their ways in the junk mail of human hearts. Together, let the North and the East explore the wonders of Jerusalem and the prodigies of Mecca. Together, let both tribes invoke the spirit of Mohammed and the forgiveness of Jesus Christ for the many human beings that have lost their lives and faith and many who have died in religious anarchy and conflict. Let both tribes unite to heed in all corners of the earth, the command of Isaiah “to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free”. Therefore, the oppressed poor in Nigeria demand her leaders to push back horrors and “jungles justice” of tribal suspicion. The oppressed families in the East demand that all corners of the North be safe for free worship and commercial merchandizing. The oppressed Christians in the North-West demand that civility and objective negotiation remains the cornerstone of tribal and national development. Let both sides never negotiate out of fear, but never fear to negotiate with each other. Together, Nigerian will fail woefully or succeed abundantly in meeting modern challenges if they are or not united. Ever since this country was founded, ever since the rapture and worms of religious Armageddon strengthened by indirect rule have came upon this nation, men of good conscience have summoned you without moderation to embrace unity over divisiveness. They have summoned you to love one another and to do well to those who despise you. They have summoned each tribe to give unhesitant testimony to national unity, bearing in mind that where the strong are, the just and the weak are either protected or secured and peace prevailed. They have summoned you to channel your religious convictions and values to profit you and others who may not share in your own religious aspirations.

          I therefore summon you today, calling on all and sundry to begin rejoicing in hope where there is despair patient; where there is pain or suffering hope; where there is tribulations endurance; where there is struggle against the forces of darkness, I mean that unfamiliar enemy to modern man-tyranny, poverty, disease, malnutrition and religious antagonism. Let me therefore call to your minds back to what I said in the past and the questions I posed without wavering; without fear of its tribal, social or political consequences. Nigeria must begin now to find alternative to tribalism. I say this because time is no longer on your side. Time is not a friend any more. The reason why I say this is because, what faces Nigerians now is much and greater than what your minds could imagine in the years ahead. What faces Jonathan Good luck in office is greater than medical treatment abroad or Islamic political calculation and decisions from Saudi-Arabia. But I am happy that Nigerian National assembly were smart enough to see the hand writing on the wall and listen to that old -school- democratic- country- songs and dance the tone of that music with their two feet. This was music and songs provoked last year but packaged under an unknown treatment. Simply put, I am happy that they could not allow the handwritings on the wall to melt away like snow or fad away this year. For while last year rolls slowly to an end, and this year comes faster than you could imagine it maybe catholic against whom the fingers of Muslim suspicion will be pointed. In another time of the year, it maybe Catholics against Muslims; Jews against Anglicans; or even Pentecostals against whomever they may set their eyes on. Today, you may be a victim of Islamic fundamental torture and tomorrow it maybe another- until the whole fabric of Nigerian tribal hemisphere is ripped open and apart at an unforgiving time, in great sectional and religious peril. I pray these visions will one day come true. These visions are anchored in Nigerian affirmation where war, religious and tribal intolerance will someday end, where all Northern and Eastern folks and all church universal will be treated as people of equal heritage; where every tribe would enjoy the same fundamental rights in a collective freedom call Nigeria; where every man, woman and children would have right to attend or not to attend the church of his own choice or make a decision to worship the God of  his own understanding, where there is no catholic, Islam, protestant, Jews, lay and pastorals levels. Therefore, the new plain flied and the new Nigerian battlefield must refrain from attitudes of moral and religious disdain and the division which have often provoked tribal wrangling, religious war, promoted often by hatred instead of Nigerian ideals of brotherhood.

          I strongly believe that tribal intolerance and religious conflict will one day come to an end in Nigeria. The reason I say this is because war is nothing but a drumbeat of hatred. Men don’t feel safe in the rumbling clatter of war. Women feel less protected in the gangling cymbals of conflict. Children are emotional suppressed in moments of physical human aggression. Elderly men and women with native wisdom are emotional torn apart by the reins of human lives. And the faith of a given tribe reaches tormenting standstill when confronted by self-effacing horrors of religious mutiny. Always bear in mind that the peace and serenity of a nation is often tampered in religious and psychiatric leeching of human lives. And so my friends learn to live in peace at all times especially now silence has been broken in Aso Rock. Learn to live in peace now an Igbo-folk is in charge. This is what I told you long time ago to be patient that it will be well one day. One day Nigeria will find alternative to tribalism which I have been persuading you to do. Before this could take place, Nigeria must soak her feet deep in the waters of modern democracy. Nigerian must receive a baptism of enlightenment and free spirit. And for all these to take place, people must learn to protect their own brothers and sisters even in the thickest of times. That is the kind of Nigeria that will bring faith and sections together. It is the kind of nation that lovers of soul-force strongly believe. This believe represents the soul-force, that we will continue to forge where ever we are- a noble undertaking that will neither be humbled by making it an instrument of emotional militancy or tarnished by arbitrarily withholding to a moral allegiance to a just cause. It is a soul-force that I believe that cannot be humbled by intimidation, or put down by those forces that mortgages human life. A call to that just cause requires that if you partake in tribalism, you will reap sectionalism and discord; if you sow perseverance, you will reap contentment; if you sow tribal affiliations, you will reap a united brotherhood; If you sow quota system, you will reap fractional ideologies ; If you sow brotherhood among regions, you will reap a family living in one accord; If you sow forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation; If you sow gossip and backbiting, you will reap children who slanders and chatter behind your back; If you plant freedom of worship, you will reap community of believers; If you cultivate deeper and deeper in the faith of the God of your own understanding, you will reap a harvest of faith-plurality. Therefore, you must be careful what you sow now, because it will determine what you will reap later. The reason is because what you give to life, is what life gives back to you. I am not afraid of tomorrow or today. I am not afraid of arriving at my own final bus stop now. What I am afraid of is the silence of moral conscience in the face of these human tragedies and in these unforgiving times. Again and again, I am not afraid of those who kill and drink human blood at the same time. I am not afraid because my life is covered in the blood of Jesus. And my spirit is in good standing with divine magistrate.


Gerald Ogbuja

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