Where Are We Now?

by Michael Ewetuga

Injustice is injustice no matter whom or what color the perpetrator is. I have always had strong distaste for injustice, it seems the distaste is inborn; it is not something that I wish or strive for it just happens, I just cannot stand injustice. It gives me the effect that you get when you eat something you believe is distasteful, like eating a foreign food that doesn’t really look good to you. It turns my stomach anytime I see injustice perpetrated and the perpetrators are nothing but messengers of the devil to me. The perpetrators are sadists, they derive pleasure in other people’s misery, the pains of the people give them joy and they rejoice at the common man’s tears.

Sometimes I do feel like holding my peace and let others deal with whatever injustice I perceived just so I won’t be labeled a trouble maker. Try as I can I am yet to succeed, it is like there’s a spirit inside of me that cannot stand injustice, a spirit of deciphering unfairness, what is not right, in most cases, is just not right.

It is easy for us to turn our face and keep quiet when injustice is being visited on other people. If someone is being kicked to death outside our doors it is easy to turn the volume of the TV up and pretend not to hear the victim’s cry for help. Like Pastor Martin Niemöller said when the Nazis were killing and inflicting unimaginable pains on the Jews and everyone perceived to be against the government of the day in Hitler’s Germany:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

When we are silent, when we refuse to speak up against injustice, sooner or later it will devour us, it will consume us and when we are at the receiving end there will be nobody to speak up on our behalf.

As the Nobel Laureate from my country, Prof Wole Shoyinka stated in his book “The Man Died” The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny” and as Dr. Martin Luther King said in one of his numerous speeches ““In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

It has been a long time since last I sat with people who refused to keep quiet in the face of tyranny, people whose blood boils when an injustice is perpetrated, people who will gladly give their lives for the betterment of the human race without expecting any gain in return their interest is a fair and just society.

When I am in the midst of people who gladly associate themselves with equal rights and justice it gives me hope, it makes me believe that maybe there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. Their speeches are like drinking cool water after one’s throat is parched from walking for miles on a very hot day, it is so refreshing and satisfying. It is also evidence that one has not gone crazy, that there are still people who believe in human value, that there are people who will stand side by side with one when there is need to raise one’s voice against injustice.

As a student I watched with dismay as pen robbers in government stole from the coffers of the people, subjecting the people to unbearable agony, telling them to have faith, that their suffering will soon be over. The people were advised to tighten their belts and sacrifice for a better tomorrow. Most of the people were ready to sacrifice, they tightened their belts like they were told to, most of them got in such a bad shape that they cannot undo the belts, their fingers had been weaken by hunger. They really did not have to worry about undoing the belts, the hunger shrunk their stomachs so much that the belts came off on their own accord.

People became walking skeletons, walking the streets as if they were in trance, smiles whipped off their faces. Men were deprived of their manhood, they could not provide for their families as hitherto. They lost respect and their children looked at them as failures. Stealing became a culture and your brilliance and success is measured by how cunningly you can steal and get away with it. Justice became a scarce commodity, available only to the highest bidder. Men died in their quest to obtain what was rightfully theirs, what they had worked for all their adult lives, what they had been promised, they died trying to get their pensions.

These men came from far and near with nothing in their bellies, wearing clothes that barely cover their nakedness. They were told that they would be paid their pensions, so they came, first in droves then in torrent; they borrowed money to get to their destinations, only to be made to wait for hours without end. Some of them died under the scotching sun that showed no mercy, with no money to feed death came swiftly, they had no chance against the strong hand of death, they succumb to the will of death like butter to a hot knife.

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