British Burglars: Who Dares Wins

The great British public is currently embroiled in a hysteric debate over the right of Mr Joe Blogs (a fictive name) to kill intruding burglars who gained entrance in order to steal, maim or kill. Recently, four dare-devil masked men went to a property in Salford, Greater Manchester in a bid to raid the house and steal valuables. At home was the 59-year-old property owner, Mr Peter Flanagan, Neil Flanagan, 27, his son and the son’s girlfriend. This is a classic case of “when trouble sleep, yanga go wake am” as rendered melodiously by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Fela’s yanga may have met its palaver but the case of one of the masked burglars, John Bennell, 27, was worse than palaver. The 59-year-old Salford man made for his knife and stabbed Bennell to death. As is common in this Isle, jittery liberals are up in arms to dissuade the generally placid British public from behaving like the Salford terminator when faced with a desperate burglar caught with his fingers in our tills.

Probably we should begin to offer warm cup of tea to every Balaclava-wearing geezer just to demonstrate how civilised are the subjects (not citizens) of this little Island kingdom. Does that mean that we are not civilised in Nigeria in our jungle justice to thieves? The most poignant and horrible case of instant justice I witnessed happened in Lawanson, Lagos. This tall, handsome thief had stolen the sum of N10,000 from a market woman. Raving lunatics and, well, the illiberal horde, gave chase and cornered the frightened thief at the gate to my flat. Instantly, I saw a physical replay of the tribulation of Stephen who was stoned by the Sanhedrin crowd until he fell asleep. Determined to halt a noonday lynching right at my doorstep, I waded into the fray to intercede for mercy. The baying crowd who were not in the mood for any intercession asked if I was also a thief for defending a thief. I shouted, moaned and mouthed some Biblical lines but they were all like fuel for the feral Pharisees bent on crucifying a helpless thief. Thirty minutes later, the Lawanson thief fell silent. His bartered and bloodied body was dumped in an open drain. The noonday sun kissed his naked, big, black ass!

In the UK, have-a-go-heroes who kill burglars or thieves for that matter are more than likely to face prosecution. However, the Prime Minister, David Cameron has promised a change through a new Justice Bill that would “put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties, will not be prosecuted.” There has been overwhelming public support for Cameron’s take against the menace of intruding burglars, who, up till now have enjoyed legal immunity from attack from homeowners whose goods are being plundered under their very noses.

Though, UK is yet to equal Nigeria’s lynching of public thieves through ‘necklacing’, at least the Prime Minister has given me an assurance that I can now defend my property through kung-fu, kick boxing, judo, biting (God bless Tyson) and headbutting, aha, (God bless Zidane) without any fear of prosecution if things should go awry. Well, there is a bad news. The Salford man, Mr Peter Flanagan, who killed masked burglar, Mr John Bennell, is in police custody on suspicion of murder.

I was consumed with anger over a recent BBC Panorama programme that exposed a shocking regime of abuse against the elderly in a care home in the West Country. Female carers were caught on camera making rude commentaries on an innocent 80-year-old grand mother left under their care. It was sad to watch a proud and dignified but vulnerable Mrs Worroll being mistreated and pushed down by paid care workers. Scenes like these in care homes almost always remind me of the great cultural divide between Europe and Africa. The tradition among the European tribe is to pack off ageing parents to care homes for adequate and protective care for the remaining of their earthly existence. Most care homes are expensive boarding lodges built in beautiful surroundings and with well trained staffers. A great many Nigerians undertake the work of care in many care homes and are doing fantastically well. Arguably, it is the commonest job to find because of the stigma attached to it. Care work is a starting job for many black immigrants in the UK.

However, I am yet to read or hear of a case where Africans send their frail, timid, old mums and grandmas to remote care homes to be cared for by total strangers. The African gene is full of sympathy for their aged mothers and grandmothers. Rather than leave them in the care of over-worked, over-taxed and over-stressed carers, we accommodate them in our homes and meet their needs until death. That is not to say that there had never been tense moments when daughters-in-law disrespect our old mums in a shameless show of power, supremacy or who-is-in-charge in their matrimonial pads. UK care homes are now facing a new aberration. The old, all-white landscape of care homes is now going through a colour make over. Ageing black people are now finding their way to care homes in alarming rate. I can understand a situation where older black women who have no children to take care of them may find comfort and care in a home. It becomes an enraging cultural somersault when we send our parents to care homes. This situation is becoming an irritating reality among the West Indians who see themselves as very British in everything save their black skins. This is where the cultural similarity of Diaspora Africans part ways from our Caribbean cousins and uncles.

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