All decked out in black from head to toe, plus including the adornments that were invincible to the eyes, I checked myself out in the mirror, and I then realized what must be done. I am not combing my hair or beard until Agba and Sowore are freed from their unjust detention.
I had determined that I wasn’t going anywhere today. I was going to spend the day ensconced in my home, writing and generally avoiding the insane traffic that has become part of our daily existence as residents of Lagos.
I immediately swung into action seeking to avoid having to attend the only engagement that I had hitherto committed to attend; The Daily Report’s Town Hall meeting. I will spare you the ingenious excuse that I offered the organizers. Suffice to say that the “Nigerian factor” featured prominently in my WhatsApp message to him at the crack of dawn. Such was my desperation not to leave my home, that I spun a tale that even Uncle Lai would have applauded.
I was enjoying the purchased peace until I saw the reminder about #blackmonday on Aisha Yusuf’s timeline. And then I could no longer enjoy the quiet comfort of my home. I was reminded of Agba Jalingo, Omoyele Sowore came to mind, and I was reminded of the countless entombed alive in cells and dungeons, captives in the war that the Nigerian state has declared on its own citizens.
I took another look at the invitation and the topic intended for discussion: Nigeria: A Nation On The Cliff Edge, and I could not find any more peace in staying at home. The dreaded hours in traffic no longer mattered, the unwanted discomfort paled into insignificance compared to the pains that I am aware that the several captives are enduring, and I was determined to venture out wearing black in solidarity with them, and in mourning the death of democracy in Nigeria, and the birth of full blown demoncrazy.
I am partial to my white shirts. The monotonous uniformity of the plain white shirt is perfect for my lack of interest in spending valuable time preening in front of a mirror, and I would typically wear white shirts about 4-6 times in a week. I owned only one black shirt, purchased on the fly months ago for a friend’s 50th birthday party, and I had bequeathed it on my spindly framed 14 year old son. For today, there was a role reversal, I borrowed back my shirt, which I had given up, without the consent of the owner, who had gone to school.
All decked out in black from head to toe, plus including the adornments that were invincible to the eyes, I checked myself out in the mirror, and I then realized what must be done.
I am not combing my hair or beard until Agba and Sowore are freed from their unjust detention, I announced to the wife, and I could hear her unvoiced and inaudible groan: her husband has yet again embraced his insanity. But the supportive and loving wife that she is, she offered me her full support and understanding, even as she expressed the hope that Buhari shall soon repent, and not let her endure seeing a dreadlocked black man in her bed.
In protest against Obasanjo’s Third Term Agenda, I grew an Afro, refusing to visit the barber until he left power. When I tarried for what I believed was becoming inexcusably longer than expected in finishing my book, I vowed not to shave until the book was done. Today, I have taken a vow not to comb my Afro and beard until the unlawful captives are freed.
The Nigerian state is murderous. It is systemically so. We even coined a phrase for one of the many evidences of its bloodthirstiness, we labeled it “judicial murder” when the Nigerian state killed Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other Ogoni agitators. I have witnessed policemen shoot students and murder them in cold blood during peaceful demonstrations, I saw Kunle Sonowo felled in LASU by a bullet that could only have come from a gun within the school premises, I have found the head of a secret cult in the office of a ranking member of the university administration, in a manner that left me in no doubt as to the chumminess between the parties, I am familiar with the putrefaction of the Nigerian state, and I have had no illusions about it.
But this is different. In the same democracy for which countless numbers died, were maimed, jailed, and dehumanized, I have witnessed a government elected on the fraudulent mantra of change, become exceedingly repressive, lawless, and completely bereft of the most basic of respect for the rights of the citizens. We are advertised as a democracy, but our government is the most lawless entity in the land, and its lawlessness is mirrored in all areas of our national life, Nigeria has slid into state sponsored anarchy.
The black I wear today is not intended to mourn the evil and exceedingly unjust state called Nigeria, the black I wear is to mourn the souls lost to birth the Frankenstein riding roughshod over us all. I mourn because the evidence would suggest that they have died in vain. I have worn black to also mark the probable death of the Nigerian nation of our dream, the hope of which Buhari has all but asphyxiated.
Free Agba Jalingo today!
Free Omoyele Sowore today!
First published 9 December 2019.