The Wounded Soldier

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Paul felt an arm lift his shoulder, and another beneath his feet. He knew he was slipping in and out of consciousness; as a med student, he knew the theory but had never experienced it. Until now.

He tried to move, to stand up, to ask what was happening to him, but all his efforts were in vain.

Oh God what is happening to me, Paul tried to say. Blood sputtered from his mouth, his lips moved but no sound came out. All around him everything was getting dark and darker still. He tried to raise his left arm, but the pain was unbearable. Must be broken.

He tried to recall. There had been an explosion, a deafening one. That’s exactly when everything became dark. He tried to remember where he was and what must have caused the explosion but his memory was hazy.

People were talking all around him, “buddy … hold on …”, “hey … pull through …”, “hang on … c’mon bro …”

What is happening? Who are you? Where am I? He tried to ask all at the same time. Instead, he spit more blood.

Paul forced his eyes open; the surrounding light dazzled his eyes. He shut it immediately, and tried again after a few moments. With little effort, he began to recognize his surroundings. It was a village. And a war was on.

Oh God, please help, he prayed. Just like his Sunday school teacher had taught him all those years ago. At first his mum forced him to go but as time passed, he had started enjoying it. He still remembered the look on his mom’s face the evening he sauntered in grinning from ear to ear. The puzzled look on her face transformed to a radiating smile when he announced, “I just gave my life to Christ”. That was years ago, and remembering it now made him smile.

A sudden calm settled over him. He had given his life to a loving saviour, so even though he was in pain, Paul knew that he was in good hands. That assurance lulled him into a deep sleep.

The ‘deep’ sleep lasted all of two minutes before a jolt woke him again. Groggy with pain, Paul tilted leftward where a face hovered over him.

He recognized the face – Jack Rover. They were roommates and best friends right from their first year in the med school. In fact, Jack was the reason Paul chose to join the medical department of the defence academy. And together, they had opted for advanced military training so they could provide medical care on the war front.

Paul tried to speak, to ask Jack what happened. But his head protested. Jack smiled and extended a hand to soothe his chest. Paul couldn’t hear his words over all the noise but he saw the promise in his pal’s eyes: you will be fine.

Paul turned to his other side and saw more faces he recognized. He was on a stretcher being carried towards a chopper with whizzing blades. They walked fast, in spurts; severally, they stopped in a crouch behind a shrub or a shed, and crawled out again moments later. They were trying to avoid being detected. At the same time, they frequently glanced down at him with faces full of concern. They wanted to ensure their movement wasn’t causing him much pain.

A sludge of memories hit Paul, and he quickly shut his eyes as it all came back to him. The men – Jim, Cross, Jitsu and Dele; all of them infantry assigned to that regiment for a peace-keeping mission in Iraq.

They had been in Baghdad for three months, maintaining the order. That morning they had received report of an attack on a squadron in the neighbouring town of Karbala, and had set out immediately in a convoy of tanks, gun trucks and a medical Landrover van. But just as they were entering Karbala, an enemy jet fighter leaving Baghdad spotted them and dropped a ballistic missile. It missed them by a few feet, hitting a transmission pole instead. The pole fell on the medical van sending it somersaulting into a sandy ditch by the roadside. Paul was in the passenger seat.

Pain jolted him back to reality. Just then, Paul saw a figure that looked like … no, it was him. Col. Sanders. Driven by habit, Paul tried to lift his arm in a salute but pain crippled him and he yelped. The colonel touched his shoulder very lightly – at ease, soldier – the unmistakable glint of kindness in his eyes. The colonel was carrying him too? Paul looked around again, slowly.

Though his face stayed as stern as it did when he was supervising a parade, Col. Sanders indeed held on tight to one end of the stretcher Paul was on. How on earth could Col. Sanders suspend a mission to care for a wounded soldier?

Paul was puzzled.

Then he remembered. It was the colonel who taught them never to leave a wounded soldier behind. “No matter what, never leave a wounded soldier behind” Col. Sanders had made them yell it over and over again on their last day of training in Denver.

Impressive, Paul thought, that even the almighty Col. Sanders walked his talk. In fact, it was not just impressive, it was humiliating.

Guilt washed over Paul as he remembered his youth pastor referring to Christians as soldiers. While speaking to them from the second book of Timothy, the pastor had highlighted soldierly attributes that should be possessed by young Christians, like discipline, agility, sacrifice, etc. But he hadn’t said anything about wounded soldiers.

Paul remembered that time Sister Judy got pregnant, how he had quickly condemned her in his mind and never cared to visit her even after she delivered. He hadn’t seen her in church for months, but he never even asked about her. He also remembered when his fiancée told him of a church member that lived on her street who was dating two guys. They had laughed at her impending doom in his apartment that evening and written her off.

A warm tear escaped Paul’s shut eyelids. The more he remembered scores of other wounded soldiers he had left behind, the more freely the tears flowed.

Thoroughly ashamed, he cried out to God for mercy. With quivering soundless lips he prayed, “Lord Jesus, as long as I am a soldier in your army, I promise never to leave a wounded soldier behind again”.

And he drifted off to a deeper sleep.


By Toby Nwazor

Toby Nwazor

Toby Nwazor is a freelance writer, public speaker and personal development blogger. He is the co-founder of www.tobyandkc.com where he shares tips for living a more productive life. And he thoroughly believes in networking.

Re: A DEBT THAT MUST BE PAID

I wrote and published the essay reproduced below in 2013, and I am forced to resurrect it by the stunt pulled by the Nigerian Film and Video Censorship Board in delaying the release of the movie ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ to the public. The board reportedly took this action because certain parts of the movie “tend to whip up tribal sentiments, especially on issues that led to the Nigerian civil war.” I find this absolutely ridiculous.

Nigerians are not unaware of the tragedy that was the Civil war – our parents and grandparents lived it; what we need in this country is access to properly assembled information on the experience so that lessons could be learned. As my grandfather would say, a young man who puts on agbada over a festering wound only to impress his bride will be wifeless barely a day into the marriage. Fool yourself not, Nigeria!

 

A DEBT THAT MUST BE PAID

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Specimen A: In the year 1861, civil war broke out in the country we all know today as the United States of America. The war originated from the attempted secession of the Southerners from the Union, a move which the Northerners perceived as a violation of the essence of the American republic and so, rejected. Ergo, war broke out between the Southern states which had formed themselves into the Confederate States of America and the Northern states which were called the Union. By the year 1865 when the war ended, casualties numbered over half a million on both sides.

Fast-forward to the year 1900, thirty-five years later, the United States had established itself as the world’s foremost industrial nation. Overall, the nation experienced a stunning explosion in the scale of industry and in the pace of production. [1]

Specimen B: May 30, 1967, civil war broke out in the country we all know today as Nigeria. The war was fuelled by the attempt of the South-easterners to secede from the country Nigeria. The move was condemned by the Nigerian government as injurious to the country’s oneness and a catalyst for an extensive disintegration of the nascent republic. Ergo, war broke out between the South-easterners who called themselves the Republic of Biafra and the Nigerian government. By 1970 when the war ended, casualties numbered well over two million on both sides.

Fast-forward to the year 2013, forty-three years after, Nigeria is 40th on the list of 79 countries which have been marked as ‘hungry’.[2] On a daily basis, 29.6% of the over 150 million Nigerian population lives on less than N190 and 83.9% on less than a miserly N300.[3] Outside the shores, the nation maintains its 7th position on the list of oil-producing countries but also is one of the highest importers of refined petroleum.[4] Nigeria is also notorious for crime, corruption, nepotism and terrorism.

In analyzing specimens A and B illustrated above, similarities abound but a singular (major) difference exists viz one country built a bridge over all of the post-war debris, blood and craters while the other did not. While the United States, spurred on by memories of pain and loss from the war, promptly commenced an effective reconstruction agenda, Nigeria evolved a selective memory, a porous reverse-filter which retained the chaff and let all the seeds fall through.

Many people today, urged on by contemporary schools of thought, will preach a total annihilation of past experiences in favor of the present and hence, future – “throw away the burdens of the past so that you may herald the treasures of the now and future!” But the wisdom in that approach is yet to be seen. The past influences the present just as much, if not more, than the future does. Albert Einstein noted, “The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”. With every passing second, the future becomes the present and the present, the past all within such short intervals of time that George Calin further posited thus, “There’s no present. There’s only the immediate future and the recent past”.

Therein lies the secret of the richness of the American culture today. In the United States, children are taught about the civil war as early as the third grade, the Nigerian equivalent of Primary 3. They are taught to understand the institution of slavery prior to the Civil war and its principal role in the breakout of the war, explain the reason(s) for the states’ secession, and outline the course of the war among many other requirements. In an article published by Education news, “(teachers) use props like milk-cartons for boats and blue marbles for cannonballs to illustrate battles…” and field trips are taken to any of the Civil war sites which have all been preserved. In Yale university, History 119 – The Civil war and Reconstruction Era, 1845 – 1877 is a course taught to freshmen twice a week for fifty minutes; it is also made available as an ‘Open Yale course’ on the internet for downloads by whoever is interested. It would be needless recounting the series of books, movies, documentaries, etc that are available with war accounts from both sides of the conflict. The US government went a step further by taking pains to preserve sites where some of the most eventful battles were fought and today, those sites are unique walk-through museums which also earn the country revenue.

This publication is not an effusive idolization of the US; if at this point you think it is then unfortunately but not for the first time, you have missed the point. Late Prof. Chinua Achebe’s There was a country is a book that was trailed by perhaps just as many harsh criticisms as it was by acclamations. One subject of one too many heated debates is the role played by the late Obafemi Awolowo in the starving of Biafrans, as alleged by Achebe. In arguing either side of this issue, Nigerians missed the point again. Achebe understood the relevance of written history in the building of any nation. As he noted in his introduction to the novel, “it is for the sake of the future of Nigeria, for our children and grand-children, that I feel it is important to tell Nigeria’s story, Biafra story, our story, my story”. That was the point – the narration of the open secret, the untold story and lessons of the Nigerian Civil war. Over time since the end of the war, the same has been done by others who played parts in this momentous conflict. Nigerians like Olusegun Obasanjo, Joe Achuzia, Wole Soyinka, Alexander Madiebo, David Ejoor, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu and even foreigners such as Frederick Forsyth, Holger Ehling, Laurie Wiseberg among others belong to this class. Unfortunately though, these men and women will have wasted their energies if the Nigerians for whom these books have been written continue to approach them with the sole aim of finding ammunition for inter-ethnic attacks.

The point should not be who was most wronged or which group of people must apologize to the other. The point is about learning the truth exactly as it happened because with the objective learning of this truth comes acceptance, then reconciliation and eventually, a reconstruction agenda. Regrettably, the possibility of acquiring this undiluted truth has progressively dimmed as the currents of time have swept away many artifacts, landmarks and symbols. But late is not the end and nearly is a word that is yet to kill a bird. The government needs to stop banning movies and books about the war just because they ‘threaten national unity and integration’. We must realize that the real threat to national unity and integration is a student writing his West African Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) whose response to a question regarding the extent of his knowledge of the Nigerian Civil war is “ummm…I don’t really know much shaa but it was a very bad war”. The real threat to national unity and integration is the absence of ANY landmark in honor of the brave soldiers (Biafran and Nigerian) who fought gallantly and died in Uzuakoli, Calabar, Abagana and Owerri. The war museum that was barely scrapped together at Umuahia deteriorates everyday fiber by fiber and the ‘Old soldiers’ day’ celebrated yearly on the 15th of January has about as much influence on the Nigerian populace as does the ant on the hide of the elephant. These are the real threats to national unity and integration.

The needed reconstruction project is an all-encompassing one which must either be taken on wholeheartedly or not at all. The pervading bugs of white-elephant projects and ghost organizations must not be allowed near this sacred task. Historians worth their salt need to be engaged by the government in a fact-finding mission; every document or artifact belonging to those thirty months of conflict must be collected and preserved. The ‘Biafran pound’ frames, Nigerian army uniforms and Ogbunigwe at the National war museum in Umuahia need to be dusted off, shined and showcased in glass with renewed pride.

Gen. Yakubu Gowon continuously appears in news pleading and praying for a peaceful Nigeria but he is yet to publish a documentation of his personal memories of the war, as principal an actor as he was in the affair! And every day, so many neglected old men and women die, enriching the soil of the graveyard with the precious stories that are our history. The documentation of such memories is not a nicety to be engaged in at one’s leisure, we must understand; such a task is a mandatory assignment placed upon the actor by the gnarled hands of history. It is a task of so much importance that I envisage the Creator stopping whoever fails at it from proceeding beyond heaven’s gates. Because separated from their history, a people cease to exist.

The climax of this reconstruction agenda would be attained when all of this knowledge and wealth of experiences have been collected together and are then fed to every Nigerian child. From as early as primary education, the Nigerian child should be fed information and facts about the war that played no less than a crucial role in the molding of the country he or she has been born into. The NYSC (which was indeed created as a healing balm for post-war Nigeria in 1973) could be employed as the culmination of these lessons. The information taught would include the facts of events leading up to the war starting with pre-colonial Nigeria to the coup and pogroms of 1966; the reason(s) for the break-out of the war; the primary and secondary actors of the conflict, the various roles they played and the significances thereof; a timeline chronicling all significant events that occurred during the war; post-war attempts at reconstruction, why and how such attempts failed and the relevance thereof to the country’s present situation.

As Rick Warren aptly notes in his book, The Purpose-driven Life, “pain is the fuel of passion – it energizes us with an intensity to change that we don’t normally possess” So far, the pain of the Nigerian Civil war, excruciating as it was, has been lost to us all. It is our responsibility therefore, as a nation of people hungry for growth, to resurrect that pain or more aptly, the memories of that pain so that we can fully cash into the strength of its passion.

“…we fall.

All casualties of the war,

Because we cannot hear each other speak…

Because whether we know or

Do not know the extent of wrong on all sides

We are characters now other than before…”

–          J.P. Clark, The Casualties

BIBLIOGRAPHY

[1] – Microsoft Encarta Premium 2009;

[2] – cumulative Global Hunger Index rankings for 1990, 1996, 2001 and 2012;

[3] – World Bank Reports 2010;

[4] – Petroleum Insights: OPEC’s Top Crude Oil Producers, 2011 – January, 2012 by David Rachovich;

[5] – The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren.

 

 

BLAME GAME: BLAME WHO?

At about 2pm on the 3rd of April, I alighted from a bus under the Ojuelegba bridge. I came upon another bus parked just by the side of the road, with school children stuffed into it. My use of the word ‘stuffed’ is no accident because these children were not sitting; they were not even standing or ‘lapping’ – they were just stuffed. The phrase, ‘packed like sardine’ immediately came to mind as they were bundling themselves into the bus, stepping on feet and hands and bags, clawing, pulling each other down so as to get on, biting and yelling.

The driver of the bus sat calmly in his seat doing nothing, waiting; the conductor stood a safe distance away from the chaos waiting for them to ‘arrange demsef finish’ and when it looked like the open door wasn’t space enough to let them in, he opened the rear compartment. And of course, some of the uniformed mob broke away and commenced another regime of chaos trying to get into the bus through the boot.

A number of bystanders and passers-by tried yelling at the children to behave themselves and look for another bus but if you have ever seen a starving dog just thrown a bone, you should have an idea of just how much attention the children paid to the rebuke. While I watched, thoroughly harassed on their behalf, a police van cruised past, very slowly. Through the wound down windows and from the rear of the pick-up van, the Nigerian policemen observed the ruckus. Without braking for even the minutest of seconds, the van cruised on by.

It was at this point that I took out my phone and took the pictures below. While I took the pictures, many of the bystanders made cracks; some called me ‘Reporter!’, and one looking like a black Toyin-tomato snickered, “Don’t put us on Facebook oh”

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In that situation, I played no blame games. I did not blame the president or any minister, neither did I blame the policemen – they must have been chasing armed robbers in slow motion. I also did not blame the bystanders or passers-by whose actions could be aptly summarized as an occasional rebuke, snicker, sigh and/or shake of head; what else could they have done?

I did not blame the bus driver or his conductor – it was just business. And I certainly did not blame the children – the bus was clearly charging a subsidized rate and many of them must have had little or no transport fares; those who might have had enough must have been saving it for a roadside treat or the rainy day.

I threw no blames.

On the night of Monday, 14th of April, 107 girls (ages between 15 and 18) were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents from Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS), Chibok, Bornu state. On Wednesday, the military spokesperson at the Defence Headquarters, Major General Chris Olukolade, issued a statement claiming that most of the girls had been rescued, with only eight still missing for whom the search was still on. He also claimed that a member of the Boko Haram sect that participated in the abduction was also nabbed by the military.

Reports from the Principal of the school and Executive governor of the state are however, contradictory. The Principal, Mrs. Asabe Kwambura, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday morning that the military’s claim was false.

“There is nothing in the military statement that is true about our abducted girls,”  Mrs. Kwambura said. “Up till now we are still waiting and praying for the safe return of the students; all I know is that we have only 14 of them, and the security people especially the Vigilante and the well meaning volunteers of Gwoza are still out searching for them.”

Borno state’s Governor Shettima was also quoted by the BBC Hausa service that same Thursday morning faulting the claims of the military.

He reportedly said, “We have recovered 14 of the girls and we have announced a N50 million reward for any credible information that will help us get our girls released and rejoined with their families.”

In this situation, I still play no blame games. Because where would one start and where, stop? Does one blame the government – their blame calendar is booked full a whole year in advance, or the military – they are always ‘doing their best’? Or does one blame the parents for letting their children out of their sights, the principal for taking the children in to write their WASSCE, or the girls for not running fast enough away from the abductors?

You could even choose to leave all human elements out of it by blaming the weather. Or a societal system so marred that the value of a child is non-existent. Or if you care, a society where human life battles fashion and food for a position on the scale of preference after crude oil, money, pride and politics.

For me, I still will not be part of the blame game.

Like a local wrestler, I dump all of the blames down in the center of the ring. And I turn around and walk away; he who has the strength, let him pick up and throw.

 

 

 

 

NYANYA BOMB BLAST

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Fellow Nigerians,

The Boko boys hit again, early this morning while men, women and children milled around the bus park in Nyanya, eyes still gritty from sleep. What can I say?

Eternal rest grant them, O Lord.

And for us who watch from the sidelines,

shamelessly commenting and taking pictures

writing poems and being grateful ‘they’ are not our family or friends

yet…

Please, have mercy.

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Signed,

Chisom Ojukwu,

shameless Nigerian.

P.S: I hope you enjoy the poem or maybe the pictures enough to drop a comment. The more infuriated it sounds, the better…we’re really good at that stuff.

 

 

PRACTICAL PATRIOTISM

A friend read my piece on the week 2 of the National Confab (read here) and thought I, along with majority of my readers who commented, was unnecessarily hard on our dear country. He had this to say in reply:

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Nigeria is only what Nigerians make it. Let us visit the legendary pages of history for a few perspectives.

Recently, a diplomat was caught with drugs (contraband) hidden in his diplomatic baggage. The first time such an incident took place, the contraband was a human being – former Transport Minister of the Second republic, Umaru Dikko, who was on exile in the UK and vocal against the Nigerian government. British Customs agents foiled an attempt to kidnap him; a crate carrying his drugged and unconscious body which was to be placed on a Lagos-bound plane as diplomatic baggage was intercepted. A full-grown man became commodity for import and export.

On the 26th of October 1993, our history told the tale of four daredevil Nigerian youths who hijacked a plane with the strangest weapons arsenal ever wielded – cutlery; forks and knives. The plane which took off from Lagos was bound for Abuja until the ‘dine’jackers diverted it to Niger Republic. They freed some hostages one of whom was the Chinese vice-president, and made political demands, threatening to burn the plane with the remaining hostages trapped inside. Top on their list of demands was the resignation of the then-military government and prompt hand-over to MKO Abiola, the duly elected democratic leader.

Still in our history, more than 8000 Nigerians were killed in only four days? This was in the 1980s courtesy of a banned extremist Islamic religious sect that claimed as its prophet, the late Muhammadu Marwa Maitatsine. The late Maitatsine had had the Koran fully rewritten, the only change being a swap of the Prophet Mohammed’s name for his. This daredevil sect was led by a Cameroonian exiled twice from our lands who returned stronger each time. He boasted of having an armory larger than the combined horde of the Nigerian police and army. Unfortunately for the later victims of his chaos, he wasn’t bluffing. By the time of the uprising, he had over 3000 followers whereas the entire Nigerian police could hardly boast of a hundred thousand men. His movement had the same ideology as Boko Haram’s ‘westernization is evil’ but given the era in which he ‘reigned’ and the evils he perpetuated, Boko Haram’s Shekau is a mere kid in comparison. Right now, his cremated remains are stored in a bottle at the Kano state police museum.

Nigeria! A country of history as deep as the Nile and sturdy as the Kilimanjaro! A country where five young majors risked everything they had for an ideal they believed in. How many of us can make such an ultimate sacrifice now? Imagine how much courage they needed to take on the audacious task of slaying their erring military masters. ‘The five majors’ lived in a time when men were judged, not by the size of their pockets, but by the tenacity of their courage to believe and sacrifice all for that belief. They paid the ultimate price too – one was tortured until he begged for death; another was dragged out of prison, brutalized and eventually buried alive; a third was ambushed and killed; a fourth was killed for supposedly betraying the Biafran people during the Civil war; the fifth Major survived to tell their story. Where on this lands could such raw courage ever be found in these times? Our five majors, I bless your memory and souls wherever you are.

It is in this same Nigeria that a woman stood up and singularly fought mighty cabals down to their skinned knees. Perhaps I concluded too early in the lines above, because this human, very human and Nigerian woman doggedly survived plots upon plots, and assassination attempts while holding on tenaciously to her God and a belief in rightness. They tried to bribe her, maim her, shoot her, bomb her, just so they could continue to peddle poisonous medications to fellow countrymen. But she refused. Professor Dora Akunyili, as you sit on the floor of that hall serving your country once again in the National Conference, hear this prayer – God will never forsake you!

Prof Dora

From the earth of this same country, Nigeria, a great mind sprang up, challenged status quo and carved a niche for himself in the literary world. Telling our story in OUR way to the world, he created cultural dynasties and a rich heritage from the ashes of fading memories. Steadfast till the end, he did not leave this world before gifting us with a final historical treasure – an outstanding book, the ultimate elder’s blessing. Chinu’ba’lumogu Achebe, you shall forever be remembered.

Achebe

I tell you, ours is a solid country. We single-handedly quelled two civil wars in two neighboring African nations with our formidable military might. We consistently produced and still produce the best brains and hands, the richest black man and woman on earth, the super-creative, super-talented and super-beautiful people. I tell you, Nigeria shall live again!

Its new life will begin with our generation, the generation of the now. Many times we fail to appreciate it but we have been strategically positioned to learn from the mistakes of the past and witness first-hand the promising potentials of a better future. True, we’ve been failed but so was China, France, USA and just about every other world power. New horizons, we must realize, open with great reluctance.

Complaining tirelessly about Nigeria changes nothing, except maybe your blood pressure. It wastes your time, energy and dreams AND leaves you with the same problem. “Nigeria is bad!” As my grandma would say – “So? Should I remove my clothes and dance in the marketplace upside down?” WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, ARE YOU DOING, WILL YOU DO ABOUT IT?

We only hear and delight in spreading horrible news about our country whereas there are so many great things happening as well. How many people heard when two young boys invented a pilot rocket in little ‘backyard’ Owerri? How many heard when a taxi man returned a bag forgotten by a passenger in his cab, with the laptop and 5000 US Dollars intact? Who heard that only last month, Nigerians in the US were rated most industrious of that first-rate economy? Or that UNN just graduated about 44 first class students?

There are so many good things happening around us. Dwelling on the good will attract more goodwill to us, the power of which could then be channeled into tackling the wrongs. On the other hand, an intensely myopic concentration on the wrongs – as is characteristic of our present society – will only drag us deeper into the quicksand of misfortune. It’s The Universal Law of Attraction.

The western countries we always – again intensely myopically – praise for all and everything have their problems as well. But they tackle all of this very effectively because they have armed themselves with goodwill generated from an intense love and appreciation of country among the citizens. We can do this with our dear Nigeria also, we MUST do this because run where you may, home will always be home.

It takes one to teach one. Spread the word. Don’t be deterred. Preach our history to our children, tell our stories to the young so that when they have grown, it will never depart from them. Change your orientation, let us become the real Nigeria, the one heroes fought and died to preserve. The Nigeria I am advocating is one whose classrooms you could walk into and ask the boisterous boys and girls “where are you from?” They will answer “Nigeria”. Not Igbo, or Yoruba or Hausa or Gwagi or Ibibio or Fulani, but Nigeria.

That day will come. Let posterity bear me witness, it will happen. You only have to decide if you are willing to be a part of it.

I rest my case. God bless The National Conference. God bless our future. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!

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By: Akaeze Emmanuel L.

Emmanuel is an avid reader, a creative writer, historian and public speaker, a Process Engineer by profession, Business Analyst by occupation. Still single, he lives and works in Abuja. His life philosophy implores you to “Change the way you think, change your life”

Emma

 

what do you think though?

 

Mugando – “I swear to you…”

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They think they have won, that their victory is assured. And I do not blame them. We do not look anything near dangerous; not with our soil-strewn farm wears, pitch-forks, axes, machetes and dane guns. If anything, we look imbecilic, especially in comparison to the sight before us: neatly-aligned rows of gleaming sinewy bodies sheathed in equally gleaming armor, armored horses hoofing up the red earth beneath them are hitched to fire-red chariots stocked with swords, spears, arrows and cannons.

You won’t believe it but I swear to you that they have lost.

Standing here beneath the blazing sun, a ragged motley of men, we are not the farmers they see. We are not even men. We are empty containers yearning for the devil’s manipulation. We shed neither blood nor tears, we break neither bones nor heart, we only kill and die.

And it is all thanks to them. They made us this way when they rode into our village while we were away, stole our harvest and burnt out huts to the ground; when they tore open the bellies of our pregnant wives and fed the bloody fetuses to their dogs; when they defiled our children and stripped away the sheer curtains that protected our pride. They made us unbeatable.

They think they have won, that their victory is assured. But I swear to you that they are wrong.

I hear my blood bubbling up just behind the wall of my throat, and my heart thudding funeral beats as the sun sinks lower in the horizon. Or perhaps it is the blood and the heart of the men all around me that I hear. We are men of different tastes, colors and families but today, we unite as one. The heat of our resolve makes the sands jump and turns the sweat on our skins to vapor. It will only be assuaged by death – ours and theirs.

I can see their commander prancing to and fro along their frontline, he is very sure of victory. But I swear to you that he has lost. He inspects a sword, spots dust on a shield and harries a slouching man. He is yelling, calling on them to fight for their king and their god, Vusu. I pity them, the rabid dogs. They can take all the time, pray all they want, we are in no hurry. We have no one to fight for – Alab Muntah hanged himself from the center beam of his inner chambers in submission to the sentence of the Inner Council and our god, Mijashu, we broke into pieces and set ablaze ourselves. We are a kingless and godless lot, soul-less demons waiting for the doomed enemy to advance.

And eventually they do, their mouths open in war chants we cannot hear, their pounding footfalls raising dust we cannot see. We stand still, mute, waiting. Their arrows hit their mark and their cannons tear gaping holes in our numbers. But we dust off the blood of our brothers, we kick aside the corpses of our sons, and we wait.

We have waited a long time…I have waited too long.

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I am Mugando Xubhallallah Djibitou, descendant of Xhodashimu, the great zuzula of the ageless Zulu dynasty. And I swear to you that today, they have lost.