To pray - or not to pray - for Paris

Sunday, November 15, 2015

If you do not know by now that within the past 48 hours, France was a victim of extremist terrorist attacks …then that rock you’ve been hiding under must be pretty solid. 

Chances are you’ve heard of the attacks.

Death everywhere is a horrible thing. This is why various nations have poured out comforting messages to France. (Facebook has even installed a new feature, enabling users to ‘hoist’ France’s flag on their profile picture).

People from all over the world expressed condolences to and their  solidarity with France. All over the world includes Nigeria.

Nigerians poured in their grief as well, some utilizing the new Facebook feature to temporarily super-impose the French Flag on their profile pictures.

The discussion dominating the world scene is what this attack means for Syrian refugees waiting to be taken in by Western Countries.

In Nigeria however, uproar has (surprisingly) ensued on the internetsphere as to why prayers and solidarity should be showered on France for the 'just' 129 lives lost, when thousands of lives have been lost in Nigeria as a result of terrorist attacks by Boko Haram, without similar reaction.

Some aggrieved have blamed this trend it on Western Imperialism. Citing how everything regarding the West is always celebrated, while all things African are relegated.

Ok...

Maybe that's a possibility. I mean, considering that the bulk of our entertainment and life commodities are imported from the West, maybe this is the West's 'way' of ensuring that their matters remain the most significant in the world. Even in terrorism-laced affairs.

Others have blamed this on the lack of patriotism on the part of Nigerians who have been hoisting ‘pray for Paris’ and similar messages as being quick to mourn with others, while having their own fair share of dead. Words of wisdom such as “Charity begins at home” and “Pray for Nigeria/North-East first before praying for Paris” have suddenly sprung up everywhere.

That also is a possibility; the lack of patriotism in Nigeria.

I mean, almost every Nigerian has a favourite English or La liga Club. Nigerians even host parties when their favourite foreign club wins. Which is why Multi-choice - another foreigner - rips us off, through the Super-Sports Channel. Yet, the bulk of the same ‘patriotic’ Nigerians have no idea that that for the seventh time, their own local club Enyimba Footbal Club just clinched the local league title.

So yes. It is a 'possibility' the grief being expressed by Nigerians over Paris is due to lack of patriotism by the commiserating Nigerians.

Or maybe Nigeria vis-à-vis Boko Haram is no longer getting commensurate sympathy and coverage because everyone is tired.

The World is tired. Nigerians are tired. (I am tired).

Boko Haram began as something minuscule. But due to political gains, cultural and religious affiliations and sheer irresponsibility on the part of the government, it was allowed to fester and grow into the gangrene it is now. 'Patriotic' people who could have trooped out enmasse to condemn and rat out members of the sect kept mum.

I remember when the Chibok debacle happened. For the whole of three weeks, the Nigerian government was silent. The Nigerian media on the other hand was confused as to whether or not to give exposure to the ongoing nightmare. Only Channels Television dared to, albeit fleetingly.

The same Western world being accused of discrimination stepped in. Aisha Sesay and Nimar Elbagir (amidst others) moved into Nigeria, to create exposure, with Nima taking residence in Maiduguri (Note that local News journalists never attempted this).  Protests sprang up in countries all over the world, creating further awareness. Notable among these countries was France.

In the meantime, the Nigerian government officials mumbled their way incoherently through interviews on the matter. Contradicting each other, and one another.

Stories of persons sponsoring the terrorist attacks would filter in. No information from the government on whether there were any investigations on any such persons, or if any investigations were ongoing at all.

Oh wait! There was that news that the only suspect in the Nyanya bombing was released due to poor prosecution.

I recall help being offered from other countries. There would however be one scandal or the other over the way the matter was being handled. Foreign aid began to be withdrawn. Then the government would throw their hands up in exasperation due to ‘insufficient facilities’.

The present government has not fared much better. Despite the goodwill from all over the world, (even France), reports by the Army regarding their 'onslaught' against Boko Haram appears to be contradicted with the corresponding killings. This is not surprising, as their ‘intelligence’ methods leave much to be desired.

For example, selecting poor looking cars and searching their booths with a cracked torchlight ... while praising the drivers of the beautiful looking cars, in the hope for some monetary gratification.

It is indeed possible that the world is TIRED. Nigerians are TIRED. Of praying for Nigeria. Of talking about Nigeria. Of carrying Nigeria’s problems on its head, even when the Government could not seem to care less.

So for once, maybe the world needs to turn its attention to someone else who is more serious about the lives of her citizens. As noted by Chinyelu Chidozie, “you can't help a suicidal man who is bent on suicide. So you take your help where it is needed”. 
Chinyelu Chidozie via www.facebook.com

And remember… we all flock to London. To New York. To Paris.

For Vacation. To seek greener pastures. To escape from political victimisation.

So are these cities just good enough to host our proclivities, but should not be prayed for when they face torment?? Have we even considered that in our typical fashion of seeking green pastures elsewhere but home, there are thousands of Nigerians permanently living in France, which means at least, 1-5 Nigerian families will be affected?

I do not think praying for Paris means not praying for Nigeria, or Kenya, or Syria ...or anywhere else that is home.

I do not believe that because your house is always getting burnt down, you cannot take a moment to share an 'eiya' with a neighbour whose roof gets blown off. The neighbour whom you look up to for help to quench the continuous fires. The neighbour whose house you go to 'cool off' from the stress of work on vacation.

That saying of "Charity begins at home" does not hold water in this case. Especially where ‘charity’ has already been taken away from home in most other respects.

If we are so hung up on ‘Charity’, let us discard all our EPL and La Liga t-shirts; let us wear only the Jerseys of Enyimba FC and Kano Pillars.

Let us throw away our Multi-choice Cable Decoders, and focus only on Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).

Let us take our kids to Bodija and Kachingoro for vacations, and not Switzerland or Paris. Let us wear only made-in-Aba shoes, and stop patronizing the Italians.

It is only after we have done these (and more) that we can truly point fingers at ‘unpatriotic’ citizens, and sanctimoniously preach about charity and home.

Until then, I pray for peace all over the world. I pray the Nigerian government gets its act together to flush out the perpetrators of the incessant killings in the North.

But in this very moment, I pray for God's comfort over the families in and the Nation of France.

Meg.



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2 comments

  1. Nice read as usual. Nigerians are hypocrites. And the worst kinds are the ones who think that every other person around them are hypocrites. The same people claiming patriotism are the ones who would rather visit Dubai and not cross the airport before coming back than go to Obudu Cattle Ranch. Later they will be shouting that they are more patriotic than Fela.

    Actually laughed at "the searching their booths with cracked torchlights". Don't mind those people thinking they are deceiving us. I always tell people, the easiest way to kill the president and smuggle the body away is via Nigerian roads. All you need is a tear rubber jeep (Maybe an Escalade or a Range Rover jeep) with an Abuja License plate and watch them wave you through with big smiles and "Anything for the boys?"

    Chinyelu Chidozie

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