Nigeria Matters

Extremists? Animalists? Beasts? Haramists?

Christmas is the day of our Lord, the day that Jesus was born. I grew up in oil-rich Nigeria understanding the tremendous significance of Christmas – that we ought to go to Mass in our most cherished outfits, me and my sisters matching the wooden ankara or the expensive dry lace my mother would have queued to purchase on December 23rd, at gegele market. My father is most happy on Christmas, but he does not fail to threaten leaving anyone behind – anyone like me who got up from bed first and showered last. His priest’s blessings are important to him, and he wouldn’t miss them for anything – least of which will be an unruly teenage daughter.

It is this Christmas mindset that I came to the States with, three years ago. But Christmas has always turned, for me, into my grandma’s acrid malaria concoction, one that I had to throw up five seconds after swallowing. There was 2009 Christmas, which would otherwise have been sensational but for a back-stabbing mutallabing nitwit who placed the burden of thousands of other simpletons like himself on himself. He had probably woken up on that day like every normal person on every normal day. But his mind failed to process the meaningfulness of life, the consequences of mischievous felony. He got onto a plane and attempted to perform a very intriguing underwear magic. Magic failed! What resulted, instead, was chaos, red-handed catching, and of course – trust American government – a well deserved punishment for our little pranky tortoise, a punishment that Nigerians sadly realized, soon after, was meant to be served by everyone who had the green and white blood flowing in their veins.

Christmas of 2010 went by almost quietly in Omaha, Nebraska, the frozen whites falling from the sky to remind me of home’s pleasantness and how much I should be praying to head back home some day soon. My sister made miniature sugary puffs of puff, our very own Nigerian dessert, to serve after we must have dipped morsels of pounded yam into steaming puddles of egusi soup laced with all kinds of aves and acquatic vertebrates and crustaceans. The meal would have been perfect if the pounded yam was not actually pando yam – a well-packaged average quantity of yam flour or yam powder – the closest thing we could get at the inconspicuous African store over on 72nd street. 2010 was a good year, probably the best I can remember since coming to the States. Christmas resonated home.

This is 2011, which will have joyously ended in a few days, but for some haraming sh*t that’s been going on in an almost desert-encroached Northern Nigeria. My phone’s shrill wail did the first depressing job for me on Christmas day. It was my friend who called. In my half-sleep state, I could make out the words “bombing,” “church,” and “Catholic.” I mumbled “hun-hun” and hurriedly hung up. She called back. I didn’t answer. As is my early morning tradition, I grabbed my PC and attempted to launch my favorite sites: 234next, lindaikeji blog, and of course, facebook. Then I saw the gory pictures, the handiwork of humans devoid of compassion and feeling. I saw children whose heads had been popped open. I trembled as I saw adults – once happy men and women who had gone to church to worship their God – struggling to survive the pain that had been inflicted upon their being. How can the dignity of the person be so trampled on?

My pastor Martin always asks me what I am passionate about; what I hate. He says he hates oppression. I think I do too. But what I am really passionate about, what I hate, as of now, is brutality – man’s inhumanity to man. I loathe it. I want to hit someone hard in the face and tell him how much I detest inhumanity. I wept on Christmas day. I was emotionally traumatized on the day of our Lord. I wept so much that not even the comfort of my downy feathery duvet could console me. The worst I hoped I’d get on Christmas was no pounded yam, or no African food at all. I didn’t hope for a killing spree in my country. I didn’t envisage such sad condition of life in Nigeria. How did we get here? What happened to a once known giant of Africa? What kind of giant is this one? A Goliath that will lose its head in the offset of a battle?

So has gone Christmas of 2011. After all of these savagery and violent acts, I can only hope for a glorious 2012, that 2012 be a new year void of evil.

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