We are inexorably approaching the end of the year, and so rightfully, we should thankfully let off a little steam; take our foot off the pedal a bit, afteral, we do have reasons to be thankful, don’t we? If not for any other thing, we survived the peril of Covid 19 (Some people believe the Chinese are so desperately evil that they brought a fake version of the Corona virus to Nigeria and Africa, generally, and that’s why the ravaging effect is not so pronounced in Africa).
Anyway, in my reminiscence, I cast my mind back to a period, some 40 years ago, at Lokoja. I have an elder brother, who is an epitome of bravery and fearlessness. I have seen him chase a monitor lizard up a baobab tree, and climb a casuarina tree, to chase down a lynx. I did not believe that anything could frighten him. That is, not until that fateful day in Lokoja, when my brother, Peperempe, was attempting to kill a snake under one of the many mango trees that dotted the then Archdeaconry House (now Archbishop’s Palace) at Lokoja, where we lived at the time. So, on this day, Peperempe, having just come home for holidays from Government Technical College, Erinile, Kwara State, wanted to kill the snake with a pestle, but, somehow, he missed. And then the snake turned and chased him! I heard Peperempe shout “Yeee”, and take to his heels. You know, the very sight of him running, was a fearful thing for the not-so-brave me.
Ultimately, it was my grandmother that killed that snake with some support from the now emboldened Peperempe. But for a moment, he showed fear, for the first time, since I knew him.
So, they say in Yoruba: “Ti omode ba de ibi eru, eru a ba”. If a child gets to a frightful place, he’s bound to be afraid. I have seen the actualization of that in recent times, post #EndSARS. So, you mean something can frighten the police to the extent that they dismantle their “toll gates” and stop collecting money from commercial transport operators? Kai!
Between Imota in Lagos State, and Idi Ayunre, around the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) in Ibadan, there are 12 police stops. I have counted them on several occasions, running that gauntlet over the last 3 years. Believe me, they would stop vehicles, and look at those of you behind the vehicle they are “talking” to, with so much disdain, daring you to say a word of protest. They have arrangements to give you change, if you need it. I have deliberately given a policeman N1k, and told him to give me N800 change. He did! Now, over the last 3 weeks, I have run that gauntlet some 5 times, including twice in the last 5 days, and, believe me, there was not a single checkpoint, or toll gate. I just imagine the palpability of the kind of fear that would make policemen not collect their daily “Esusu” on those roads.
So, police can actually drive inside Lagos traffic and not jar our auditory nerves with the blaring of their sirens? Na wah o! Even within Lagos, LASTMA officials have suddenly become human. They no longer harass motorists any how. There was one day, recently, when my car seat belt jammed, and I couldn’t use it. A LASTMA official saw me, and didn’t stop me? Hmmmm! When a child gets to a frightful place…
So, we must recognize that nobody is beyond fear, and it is alright, human, to be afraid, periodically.
But, probably even more important, we must be mindful of how we deal with people, because of the day we will get to a frightful place. Do you remember 1990, at the height of the Liberian Civil War, when Yormie Johnson got hold of Samuel Doe?
The supposedly fearless Doe, who had himself gruesomely murdered several people on his rise to power, looked death in the eye, got to a frightful place, and was afraid. The issue is this, if he had given any quarter to his opponents, perhaps he might have been mercifully treated.
Little wonder the Bible says, in Matthew 5: 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”. In life, probably the most certain thing is that “What goes around will come around”, so, we must do unto others as we will have them do unto us. And then, when we get to a frightful place, the fear won’t be so much, and help will come from least expected quarters.
Peace and love!
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I am done, I am gone, I am ghost!