“The Seven Social Sins are:
Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Worship without sacrifice.
Politics without principle.
Frederick Lewis Donaldson 1925.”
So we woke up on Sunday to what sounded like a scene out of a Godfather movie but this time directed by Quentin Tarantino. We heard that heavily armed gunmen stormed a Catholic church in Ozubulu chasing after a victim and shot sporadically killing people like chickens. As at this, we, as usual, aren’t sure of how many died. We hear of between 10-30 dead and scores more injured.
Initially, the report was of another dreaded Fulani herdsmen attack on a southern Christian place of worship, until the governor visited and declared it wasn’t a terrorist attack but an ongoing “war between brothers” hmmmmmmm.
Soon social media was awash as several stories made the rounds. Defenses and attacks from different sides but soon we learnt some obvious things from all the stories. Obviously, the boys were involved in some form of drug deals and had been fighting and killing each other back and forth first from South Africa and then now in Ozubulu. We learnt that the killers came after a baron who was supposed to have been at home and after not finding him at home, went to the church in search of him and his dad. Not finding him, they proceeded to kill his dad and mow down some villagers in true mafia fashion to pass across some message. And of course like the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger quote, “promised to be back” to complete the deal.
Okay now, so we have social media buzzing. The first story is how come the church was desecrated. What gave them the boldness to shoot people in the “house of God”? sounding more like if the killings would have been legitimized if the killers waited for mass to finish so they could send the worshippers straight to heaven as they trooped out of the church. But then we learn that the shooters felt justified that since the church was built and accepted knowingly with money from their trade, it was more or less their club house and they were justified to carry out club activities including shootings inside.
Another set of social media activity has centred around condemning the greedy Igbo boys and others who worship money so much that they are willing to turn a blind eye to the activities of the perpetrators. People are so enamoured by the glamorous lifestyle shown by these individuals that they welcome them and see them as role models.
Sadly, the big challenge as I read several of these posts is how I find so many of them hypocritical – thieves calling others thieves and calling for tires to hang the thieves.
My people, Nigeria is in trouble. Quoting my black American brothers, “we sure are in deep shieet Mehn!”. I really don’t know how we got here and truly, I am almost thinking there is no hope of getting out of here. Where do I start?
There is something the Bible calls “filthy lucre” – filthy wealth. Wealth gotten at the expense of someone else’s expense even if it is legal. The big problem with Nigerians is how much we have come to love filthy lucre – people just want to be rich at all costs. Students come out of school with a second class lower and expect to be paid N300,000 straight from NYSC without experience. People mostly want the end result without paying the necessary price to get there.
So we have guys making multi millions in dollars from selling hard drugs largely overseas. Everyone knows what these guys are into but when they come back here, they are feted by governors, police commissioners, the village and celebrities. Yet we are wondering why they are idolized by youths after being shown off as examples to copy.
The tragedy is not Ozubulu, it is Nigeria. It happened when all the Edo women were being shipped off to be prostitutes in Italy and coming back idolized after building hotels, choice houses and with all the trappings of that business. People knew what was going on but parents didn’t mind living in houses built on that trade, nor brothers and sisters boasting of their sister’s prowess. At a point, people who didn’t get involved were labelled as lazy and not wanting to work.
Some time ago, I was shocked as I read of and watched clips from the obituary of a drug lord who was killed by hanging in Malaysia. It was like a celebration as the whole village including the priest turned out for the burial. The guy was buried with full honours as the son of the soil. I cringed as I read the comments from people who hailed him as a hero who went in search of the golden fleece.
Yes, the tragedy isn’t Ozubulu it is the Nigeria where almost 3% of the population was involved with MMM. On the website, MMM was advertised as a Ponzi scheme. Participants knew they were engaged in kalo kalo. Each time they received money, it meant someone was being cheated, but just as in a game of musical chairs, it was a matter of getting yours out before it collapsed knowing that the last set of people left would be the ones holding the bag. And did people hold the bag? We hear of suicides, heart attacks, bankruptcies and all sorts of issues that people faced with the collapse of MMM.
MMM looks so far away from the drug lords of Ozubulu but you know that for everyone that committed suicide or faced ruin, everyone that profited has a blame just as equally as those who profit from enslaving others with hard drugs. Of course with the success of MMM came many copycats. I asked someone if she didn’t feel something was wrong with defrauding people this way and her response was that “everyone was doing it and as long as one moved fast enough not to be caught, it was okay”. I knew a guy who would spend time condemning Christians for not being holy enough yet was a chief MMM man.
One day, in church I asked a group of roughly 40 young people from different backgrounds a hypothetical question “what if your uncle was a governor, he had just one house when he became a governor and he left with just a car and the same house that he had before he became governor, what would you think?”. The answers shocked me. The answers ranged from “he needs deliverance” to “someone in the village has held his destiny” to the blatant answer of “he is a fool can’t he see his mates?” I was stunned! This was church people!!! But it showed me where we were as a country.
Truly, the tragedy is not just Ozubulu. There are countless examples of the tragedy as we look around. Politicians who don’t waste time lining their pockets once they have access to the cookie jar also known as national cake. We already know about these ones but we still idolize them.
Let’s go back to Ozubulu, maybe if the Catholic church had refused the gift of the church, so many of its members would still be alive today. Maybe one young man would have been encouraged to not enter the trade. And that for me is the way out from the mess our country is in – just say no. We must understand that just because so many people seem to be involved or seem to support something doesn’t make it right. Have the boldness to stand out and refused to be sucked in.
Yer, let everyone else seem to be involved but choose to stand out and say no. You might seem to be the only one but it might not be long. Someone else could be bold by your move and join you. It only takes one person to make a difference. Every single great movement started with One person. We can reclaim our country one person at a time. It might seem like an out of date idea but it has its merits. Maybe if that lady had chosen not to put money into MMM, the money wouldn’t have been lost, maybe if that lady had chosen not to step into that Ozubulu church this past Sunday, she would still be alive.
Yup, it is time to say no and save our great country from death. #justsayno