Freedom Within A Cage…

by Felix-Abrahams Obi

We live in a world that has an admixture of freedom and bondage intertwined like Siamese twins. The two must co-exist as long as we remain on earth. For instance, the experience of bondage and subjugation makes us appreciate freedom but I am not so sure if the converse is also true. For instance, darkness makes us appreciate light but who cares about darkness when light blazes forth unblinkingly from the sun and other man-made lighting sources like electricity? In the midst of an assured and bountiful supply of food and wealth, who would appreciate the graveness of hunger pangs and the hopelessness of poverty? For sure, totalitarian regimes may make us appreciate democratic freedom to some extent, but does freedom motivate us to fight for the oppressed? Those who seemingly live in an environment of absolute freedom are often blind to not see the dire needs of the oppressed around them. That was the malaise that beclouded even the good-natured white South Africans who enjoyed freedom amidst the subjugation of the majority blacks during the apartheid era. But is it proper to enforce or promote freedom when our sense of freedom is so warped?

The Truth is, freedom in the true sense can only be enjoyed within a spatial and circumscribed dimension. Freedom is not boundless but has well-delineated borders like every free country in today’s world. When God created the earth, He commissioned the first man, Adam, to live and work freely, but within the confines of the Garden of Eden. Though he was given some restrictions, but that in any way did not curtail his freedom at any rate. He was to extend the frontiers of the kingdom of God all over the earth. He was to increase, multiply, replenish the earth, and have dominion over all the things God created aside humans. From that circumscribed space, he was expected to extend the freedom he had enjoyed within the garden until the whole world gets to enjoy that freedom under the watchful eyes of God.

There were no physical boundaries in God’s original geographical map, but today, the world has become fragmented into tiny bits and pieces called nations and kingdoms. The complex security paraphernalia at the borders of most nations mock our concept of freedom. If cattle and other livestock can freely graze, why would not humans freely move around? It is as though we all live within a cage called the earth with innumerable compartments called nations. To move from one country to anther, an elaborate immigrations and customs protocol had to be passed, reminding one of the illusory nature of our idea of freedom. Being a free citizen of Nigeria does not in any way give me the right which citizens of other countries will normally enjoy. I may be free to walk around Nigeria with my shoulders high but such cannot be true once I land at JFK International Airport in USA

I hate to be in bondage, subjected to fear or be restricted in any way. I love space and wish I could erect my abode in high heavens among the clouds where there seem to be no restrictions. Each time I see clouds sail freely under the expansive canopy of the blue sky; I look up with a smack of envy in my eyes. “When will man experience true freedom on earth?” I keep quizzing with no answer in sight. When will the resources of the earth be shared freely and equally among all its inhabitants for whom they were originally given? When will the pervasive poverty in Africa be replaced with opulence, or have we been banished to a perennial bondage of poverty for all eternity?

I choose to think otherwise for the pangs and travails of childbirth experienced by African Women represent the pain of universal motherhood. The same biological processes that bring herald life in Africa are the same among Asians, Europeans and Americans. So we have a right to enjoy the good things of life like every other inhabitant on earth whether they were born or live in Europe, America or Asia. Africans must refuse to be categorized as the hapless inhabitants of a Dark Continent. It is our inalienable right to enjoy freedom, breaking forth at its seams. Our leaders may have a warped knowledge of freedom to rule which they misconstrue as an opportunity to loot our vast resource, thereby impoverishing the greater majority of us.

But if true freedom is purchased not on a platter of gold but blood, it behoves us to fight till the last drop of blood drips from our veins to ensure that we live and enjoy our God-given freedom to live a wholesome life in Nigeria, nay Africa. Our “democratically-elected” leaders in Nigeria seem to have their minds blighted by amnesia of sorts. They have forgotten that thousands of lives were lost before God delivered us from the grim horrors of military dictatorship. Many had hoped that our democratic license would ensure prompt delivery of the dividends of the social contract signed with our leaders through the agency of “free and fair elections”. But what with have today is more of an absurdity called “nascent democracy” which is being suffocated by insensitivity of the leaders over the needs of the generality of Nigerians.

If not, why would an elected governor be caught knapping in England with money meant for the development of his state? His idea of freedom to loot and not be caught misled him to think that same anomaly rules in other countries. I am glad he is enjoying the little discomfort of a prison yard in England and is being experiencing that the sacredness of the judiciary is a truism in spite of the disability of the Nigerian judiciary in upholding justice and fairness in Nigeria. May other elected or appointed leaders know that the immunity clause and diplomatic benefits they now enjoyed as leaders were given them just to leverage their delivery of social goods and services to the people that elected them in the first place. It never should be seen as a leeway and freedom to loot our corporate coffers, thus impoverishing the citizenry.

True freedom is that which makes us become all that we were designed, configured and created by God to be during our short stay on earth. Anything that fights this mandate is evil and must be resisted. We have absolute liberty to live right, and do what is right .We may think that we have an equal right to make wrong choices and do what is wrong on the other hand; we should also be prepared to live with the dire consequences of our freedom to choose. This is so evident in the epidemiology of diseases where morbidity is often orchestrated by decisions and unhealthy choices made in ones life. Smokers are free to smoke and inhale nicotine without restrain, but they equally have the freedom to live with the after-effects of lung cancer and the likes.

In conclusion, I think the greatest freedom we have, was that which Jesus promoted during his days on earth. He announced publicly that his life’s mission was to meet the needs of the needy, disparaged, lonely, and impoverished and the hopeless. He expended his energy going about doing good; healing the sick, raising the dead, offering hope to the hopeless and breaking the shackles that held many captive. He

said he came that people may live life to the full. To me, that is the epitome of freedom. That state of existence where we live without those snags that hinder us from expressing our potentials to the full. Not until we get there, the fight for our collective freedom as Nigerians would be as fierce than it ever has been!

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