So, I was taking a trip one day with my parents and niece, and by trip, I mean Bolt. As we advanced, I noticed with alarm the number of Northerners on the streets of Lagos, a lot. We passed by elderly men just sitting by the road, or right in the middle of it, depending on which road you’re taking, women, some even nursing, and children. What’s more, at least 40% of them were missing limbs. And then I asked aloud in Yoruba, “How did so many Northerners get here?”

My dad replied; “Do you know how many people Boko Haram insurgencies have displaced?” I fell quiet and began to think.

You know, it’s one thing to hear of calamities all over and another to know what it feels like to be caught amidst it. When we hear of conflicts and killings in the north, we think, well, thank God I and my family aren’t involved. There’s this stigma that, sadly, doesn’t have to do with any contagious disease, you just have to be unfortunate enough, to be born in the north. You get Names like Mala (the Yorùbá version for Malam) and Aboki. Fundamentally, you lose your identity, which is ironic because freedom of Self should be a fundamental human right.

If that one is paining you, imagine getting to your bus stop at night and the only okadas available are manned by Abokis. I for one would rather trek home.

I read a tweet not long ago about how a lady became immediately afraid when a Hausa man sat beside her in a Keke because she was scared he would stab her. We’ve established that the initial reaction to a northerner is fear. All my life, I’ve never even heard of a Yoruba man or woman getting married to a Northerner. That’s by the way.

But please, allow me ask? What is love if you do not feel your neighbour’s pain?

As I sat contemplating, as I do most of the time, I felt ashamed – because for so long, I have been so detached from everything happening around me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some cold-hearted sociopath, but even in my prayers, I am ashamed to admit my favourite line:

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“Olúwa, ẹni t’íbi máa kàn, tó ma kàn mí, má jẹ̀ẹ́ kí ó kàn án.

“Which in English means,

“Lord, save anyone whose affliction would affect me.”

I am ashamed to admit that although I am always moved to tears when I see these little children on the streets of Lagos, hopeless, desolate, with no thoughts for a future, I have done nothing. I just sit and scrunch up my face in readiness for tears that won’t come, shake my head, and face front. Basically, I look and pass.

But now I choose to do something. I choose to say something. With my mind, that is the only weapon that I have, and my words that are the pallets of my emotion, I choose to speak.

For people gone to soon,
Dreams maimed in hibernation,
For women and children damaged and ruined,
I choose to stand,
For justice and truth,
That is the anthem of our youth,
I will be quiet no longer.
If nobody will look,
I will.
When nobody will speak,
I will.
And what if I am just a voice?
I believe that I am not alone.
If you will stand with me,
If you will fight with me,
If only you will do something, as do I.
Nigeria is us.
I have no fault that I was born in desert planes and scorching sol.

But you, you have failed if the people under your government still live like this! Do well to share this with your friends, big reformations start small.


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