BY SIMON REEF MUSA
In the past months, I have been inundated with calls from serious-minded friends who have had cause to express their reservations over my obsession with issues relating to Southern Kaduna. One of them from Plateau state even said that I was “too high up there” to contemplate the idea of dwelling on local issues. To him, what I must be involved now is to align with others in tackling issues of national development.
As a reporter, how do I align with others, besides reporting on issues that affect society? Should I pretend to be blind to the existential threats against my people because I do not want to be identified as “too obsessed” o issues that affect my people? To some of my friends, there is nothing wrong in reporting on issues affecting others. But when I report on issues plaguing my people, some, including even my brothers and sisters from same area, I am accused of being too obsessed with Southern Kaduna. To ignore the boulder of injustice ripping across your people and concentrate on harmless infractions in other climes must be the focus of whimpering souls afraid of their shadows.
For my friends who feel disillusioned over my consistent audacity to speak on issues relating to my people, I promise to disappoint you the more in the months and years ahead. I am yet to be convinced that one can be “too high up there” to be disconnected from the travails of his people. Since I visited my village some months ago, Nigeria to me has come to symbolise a hollow glorification of a system committed to the enthronement of a few selected born-to-rule group over others. For those who are quick to remind me of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s advice that one should first stand on his feet before standing for his people, I say to them, “Go and fend for your economic empowerment and leave me alone. Throughout the years I was silent, what empowerment came my way?”
For now, I am a realist and can say in all sincerity that Southern Kaduna has been finally ‘conquered’ politically by Malam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai. The question now is: Can we ever hope to come out from this Platonic cave of despair and humiliating conquest? Yes, we shall. Every evil system contains its own seed of destruction and time proves all. For those who think we are in the business of spewing hatred; I tell you that we are not. We are simply attempting to standing up for something that is bigger than us.
I come from one of Nigeria’s smallest ethnic groups that has been thrown into the fringes of four LGAs: Zangon Kataf, Kachia, Kajuru and Kauru. The essence is, of course, to dis-empower us and reduce us into political nothingness. It is a heart-rending that my children are already skewed even before they know it. While education is serving to broaden the path for enhanced prospects in other areas, the same is used as a tool by the power cabal in the North to oppress and keep others in perpetual bondage. Those who seek our total subjugation have found collaboration amongst our Judases whose sole reason is living for the present and not the future. While our politicians have become an appendage of our uninspiring story of several decades of political servitude, our brothers and sisters are in bed with our oppressors.
My son recently requested that I should allow him add his Yoruba name in school. I was astounded and sought to know why. Just in his early teenage years, I was baffled as to the reason behind his request. When I asked to know why, he simply told me: ‘Too many crises and stories of mass destruction coming from Southern Kaduna.’ Tears filled my eyes later as I ruminated over his reason for the strange request. Was I proud of being from Southern Kaduna? I was not too sure, because I have always carried a scar for coming from an area marked for subjugation.
To my son, adding Yoruba name to his other names could offer him an identity and save him from the burden of discriminatory practices associated with people of the area I hail from. Every generation has its own dream and vision and absolutely free to decide what to do or accept. Though I angrily rebuffed him, I thought I should not have begrudged him as long as it was aimed at brightening his prospects for a better tomorrow. I recalled with pains in my heart how I was denied admission in BUK in 1987. It is far better to live as an illegal immigrant in a far-off country than be a slave in your own country.
It is more painful when foreign elements committed to your annihilation and total invasion are surreptitiously brought in to kill, main, rape your women, sisters and daughters, including forceful seizure of lands for the singular persistence for despoliation. When men and women become mortally afraid to whisper a complaint over the rampaging escapades of their oppressors, that moment they become willing slaves in love with shackles of servitude. Southern Kaduna has been devoid of leaders who have become hedonists and choose to fill their pot bellies with Esau’s porridge than stand up for what is right. Little wonder, our political class is confirmed to the dustbin of history and have become ashes of their fiery forebears.
In times like this, we are at a loss over who to trust and rely upon as the smiles of many have drawn daggers in the night. We live in an intellectual age where brains rule over brawn. Members of our intelligentsia are too deeply enmeshed in seeking for worldly pleasures, rather than drawing a road map to our eventual salvation. The weapon of poverty is being deployed to whip many of us into line, while our people bleed in silence, having surrendered their electoral powers to the insatiable greed of a now clueless political class born in the right place.
Every empire that once wielded power had to succumb to the changing sounds of the time. When the wind shall lure men and women to sleep, after tyrants have come to their wits end, so shall a new dawn and the morning sun illumine the dark paths that have frightened little souls into submission. May the shackles that enslave us prick our conscience and make us to act like the tortoise that upturned the tables before being taken away by his captors.
When questioned by his captors why he has requested them to allow him perform an act before taking him away, the tortoise replied: “I am a leader in my small corner. When my people shall come and later learn of my arrest, let these upturned tables tell them that I put up a fight against those who finally took me away.. We must do something to prove to not only our traducers, but also those that would later eventually know the truth in future that indeed we stood up for what we believe in when it mattered the most.”
For now, we must be focused on divine intervention, rather than placing premium on hot airs where conspirators are never in short supply. Also, we must with increasing devotion to our emancipation never be enamored in seeking to dine with those who think political power remains the ultimate prize in the race of life. What the absence of money will cost in the life of the individual; the presence of money will never solve.
Herein lies the tortoise’s wisdom in sacrificing present pleasures to uphold the bigger picture for future generation to appreciate. The chains of prisons can never hold down the defender of truth for eternity. Steven Kefas will definitely come out some day. When he comes out, those who seek his hurt will hide their heads in shame. There is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friend, so says the scriptures.
After tomorrow, the sound of freedom will ring and the sun will shine again. I am convinced beyond all reasonable doubts that the victory of falsehood over truth can only be ephemeral. el-Rufai may have ‘conquered’ Southern Kaduna and employ other skins to reduce our worth and reinvent the narrative, but out of the dark clouds of frightening hopelessness across our horizon will be replaced with a new song where we all seek to be treated as just men and women created in the image of God.