The Sokoto carnage where people were burnt beyond recognition should unsettle and prick the conscience of the most callous government anywhere in the world. Whether that disturbs Nigerian Government or not is not the concern of this column. I leave that to the Nigerian public to discuss. Whatever their conclusion, this carnage will remain one of the darkest pages in the history of Nigeria. Not only that, the unborn generations will have a good reason to ask their parents and teachers: who were Nigerian leaders when this happened?
But for those who died in this gruesome manner, all we can say because of our incurable docility is: may Almighty God have mercy on them and console their families. I regret watching the video clip where the burnt remnants of these victims were picked one after the other for burial. That scene continues to haunt me. I need a cure.
While in this mourning mood, people are still peddling the belief that, after all, we are in the ember months. Calamities of this gargantuan proportion should be expected. The Sokoto carnages, the mysterious death of the eight Islaamiyah pupils locked in an abandoned car, the students who were recently crushed to death by a truck, kidnappings everywhere, and many others, bring to the surface again the case of Nigerians’ deep-rootedness in mythicism.
These recent wanton killings have strengthened the conviction of many Nigerians who specialize in superstition that we are in the ember months and we should not expect less. This shallow thinking contributes—in no small way—to our retarded development in this part of the world. Rather than myth, these killings could only be traced to our unjust system that canonizes criminality but criminalizes and demonizes righteousness.
To conclude that these death occurred because of December is to take superstition to a pitiable level. For I pity these superstitious people and the level of their thinking. These are killings that are avoidable (in most cases) and investigable if the government really wants to. We habitually attribute everything to mythological causes.
Why are accidents, loss of lives and property, and calamities associated with the ember months—September, October, November, and December? Some opine that ember is itself reddish, burning, and destructive; hence it is natural to expect the ember months (especially the last one—December) to be calamitous.
Are these months really calamitous? Are there really evil spirits attached to these months as thought? Why are calamities falling upon one another in these months? There is nothing intrinsically evil about the ember months. No month of the year is intrinsically evil. Thus calamities should not be mischievously attributed to any of them.
The truth is that Nigeria has been stationed in the pool of blood before these months. Demonizing these months as if they were creatures with concrete existence is fetishistic. How can superstition be this terrible? How do we allow superstition to terribly becloud our sense such that it is completely imperceptive to the light of reason? It is worrying that some ‘educated’ clerics are among the vanguards spreading some of these easy-to-falsify myths.
It is high time we burst this myth and rid ourselves of this superstitious belief that has never done us any good. Many people still harbour the mythological belief that other calamities are on the way coming because it is end of the year and nothing can be done to avert them. This is turning logic on its head.
Yet, we need to ask. Why are accidents and calamities common mostly in December? All that can be said is that December—which is considered the most dangerous of the ember months—is a festive month in Nigeria which coincides with many events that increase the frequency of traveling and, as a result, accidents due to our bad roads. It is not that December is evil in and of itself.
In saner climes where roads are in good condition; where traffic rules are obeyed and defaulters are punished, where traffic officers are disciplined, well trained, and responsible, accidents are so infrequent that no one attributes fetishism to any of the ember months.
What about the alleged rituals that are said to be carried out towards the end of the year in Nigeria by business owners, politicians, money bags who want to renew their money rituals, and even clerics who compete to have the largest number of congregants in their places of worship? These rituals are said to require blood of innocent people. Could this explain why blood sheds are rife in the ember months in Nigeria?
If this allegation is true and killings are rife for that reason, it means the claim that Nigerians are religious people needs to be revisited. It means our so-called Christianization and Islamization agendas are more hypocritical than real. Wanton killings of this ugly proportion (for rituals or for whatever purposes) as witnessed presently in Nigeria, do not and, cannot thrive under the leadership of those whose minds are preoccupied with Justice.
For ritual killings—even if we agree that people truly do it—are still informed by myths. Justice, especially religious justice, has the capacity to burst all myths and put an end to these senseless killings. But many of our clerics who should guide and lead our political leaders to the path of justice are either flirting around with them—ignoring their excesses—or ensconced silently and comfortably in their cocoons claiming that leaders are not to be criticized.
In a situation whereby every sincere advice to those in government is ignored, every condemnation of ill thought policies is frowned at, every outburst of outrage in reaction to wanton killings and injustice is considered criticizing the government, do we have any option than to turn to the Lord of Mercy?
O Allah! Help put an end to all forms of injustice in Nigeria. We are tired and hapless. Protect us and guide our leaders.