Bloody Jubilee

2010-10-02
THE SUN Newspaper

The three friends sat down in the shade of an auto mechanic shop. They had just left Eagle Square to collect their thoughts and hopefully repair their minds. Abuja was now a Bali, an African Baghdad. When would the suicide bombing begin? Ibinabo cleared his throat.

"It was a sham celebration, a jubilee by force. It was a mistake to celebrate it. What was there to rejoice over other than the fact that, despite our best efforts at self-annihilation, we had failed to destroy ourselves?" "There you go again, Ibinabo, with that cynical attitude I can no longer stand," Kabiru protested. "Give this country a break. We survived a brutal civil war..." "That survival was not the point of this anniversary but independence from colonial rule".

"The two events are linked". Bakare hissed and made to leave. "And where are you going?" "Anywhere far from your useless conversation. You two are insufferable. Bombs just blasted this city and all you can yak about is that independence is related to war". "You have a wayward mouth, Bakare. Sit down".

"I will not! Can you not see that this country has just crossed an ontological Rubicon? We have severed the moorings that kept us on this side of a fragile sanity, dishonoured an ancestral code. We have unleashed havoc on Nigeria and let slip the dogs of... terrorism". "My friend, I say sit down! We have done no such thing. We merely went to Eagle Square and came here having listened to the finest martial music, watched impressive paramilitary displays and military aerial manoeuvres. We heard boring television commentary, and then three bomb blasts that are similar to the gunfire we hear every night when robbers raid our neighbourhoods. The invisible everyday experience of Nigerians became highly potent. When did we come close to this 'ontological Rubicon' of yours, and how did we cross it?"

The mechanic walked up to the three friends with two apprentices in tow. He held a massive hammer loosely in one hand and a spanner and green-handled screwdriver in the other. He squinted in the sun. "I beg you, young men. Abuja has seen enough bomb blasts for one day. Here you are hurling more verbal missiles in my humble workshop. One car has fallen in a ditch as its driver tried to escape your bombastic grammar. Do you wish to drive me out of business? Look at the commotion you are causing".

"Oga mechanic", quipped the man whose car had fallen in the ditch. "You too are a bombastic element". The friends looked around to find harried looking citizens emerging from the surrounding bushes. They were mortified to think they had produced much distress and anxiety among a people already living in a system that did not care for their personal safety and security.

School children peered from the undergrowth, their eyes beseeching them. Above, they could see trees had lifted their branches to cover their eyes so they would behold no more tragedy on that jubilee day. That was when Kaamonke walked into the workshop. "What happened here?" he asked. "What is the meaning of this commotion?" Fingers pointed. "Ask Bakare!" "He frightened everyone with what he was saying after the car bombs went off close to the Judiciary. These people thought more mayhem was coming".

"In that case, let everyone gather round. Let us huddle close and hear what Bakare meant and what he did not. At a time like this, we need a discussion." The bushes rustled as more people left their hiding places in a manner reminiscent of how women left forests at the end of the civil war. It turned out there were not that many school children after all but there was a huge number of unemployed graduates, hundreds of homeless beggars, thirty-six pregnant women without access to antenatal services, their protuberant tummies heavy in front of them, asking everyone to kindly make way. There were many people living with HIV and without antiretroviral drugs. The bushes were alive with all this movement. The workshop filled to the brim as Kaamonke spoke again.

"This nation is at a crossroad. What happened in this city today was a disastrous sacriledge. We constitute ourselves this day into a convention of the people's parliament, a parliament of the dispossessed. Let us resolve to meet in this mechanic workshop every Tuesday to vent our minds about these bomb blasts and other predicaments, chart a way forward". The group nodded in agreement.

"One of the twelve people who died in today's act of terror had been waving a Nigerian flag moments before the blast. It is now soaked in his own blood. That flag should be in the national museum. Next week, we shall discuss the significance of that bloody flag, and how we can overcome the memory of this horrible jubilee".

 

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