I’ve been contemplating on what to say about this. I found this write up by Joy Isi Bewaji and I swear I cried after reading it. My heart bled for the truth in this
Y’all won’t believe it, but I just heard about SARS for the first time this week. I’m sure I come across their vehicle and the officers, but I blank out anything that makes me contemplate pain in Nigeria. I don’t see anything. I’m a walking Nigerian zombie - a corpse. I don’t see or feel anything. Nigeria really doesn’t exist in my heart. It’s just a space I occupy with millions of people.
Why? Because I am helpless most of the time. And I hate that I am helpless. That when I see a child hawking by 10pm at night as I make my way home, I can’t do anything about it.
I hate that I can’t save a man dying by the roadside after a hit and run. I know someone who spent a really long time in and out of police cell because he tried to help a dying man after an accident. The hospitals won’t attend to him, and then police accused the good samaritan of hitting the man when the man died in his arms.
My helplessness as a Nigerian is all that I know. And the only way I can deal with it is blanking out.
There are no solutions to anything in Nigeria. No consequences.
And that is our biggest flaw - the fact that you can be assured a corrupt politician will not face justice. You can be certain that all the stories you read about “man kills wife”, “aunty pours acid on maid”, “father rapes daughter”… there are zero consequences.
Especially with police brutality, rape, paedophilia and domestic abuse. Not many people are going to jail for the real crime against humanity. We have more maggi cube thieves than rapists in Nigerian prisons.
I can’t pour my heart and mind into a system that works like that. I just can’t. Any society/establishment that doesn’t run a clear reward system, where consequences are a priority, will never be able to move above a certain progress level.
When we say: “The worst of us are ruling the best of us.” It shows how much delusion we are having for breakfast.
We are not ruled by the worst of us. We, the people, are not the best of us.
We are ruled by us.
This is who we are. SARS is who we are. Thieving politicians are who we are. Tithe-obsessed pastors are who we are. Rape apologists are who we are. Corrupt officers are who we are.
We are ruled by us. We are the worst of what we could be as human beings. There are no better Nigerians anywhere.
How is it that not one Nigerian in power ever live up to being the “best of us”?
Even journalists who spend years condemning the system, when they get the opportunity, they blend in like fluid into a larger ocean of disrepute and dishonour. Nobody ever goes into government and retains his sanity, dignity or humanity.
Your brother is in SARS. Your uncle is beating his wife. Your elder sister is beating her housemaid. Your neighbour is raping his daughter. Your father is a friend to a governor who isn’t paying salaries.
These are Nigerians. These are people you attend weddings with and have lunch with. Do not make it seem as if every Nigerian in authority is a poor representation of us. Not true. They are US. Period.
They are who we are. The only difference is they have a platform to exhibit our true identity. Their position displays the general tenor of our lives.
I can name a hundred events I have attended where corrupt and lawless officials were keynote speakers and were rewarded and regarded with respect. These are the people we will still come on social media to yap about. But you invite them for your events. You sit and listen to them tell you how they are different from others even while their noses grow longer.
We are pretentious people. I mean, that isn’t news. Until we are ready to stop blaming the “worst of us”, and accept that “all of us” are corrupt, lawless etc, we won’t be heading anywhere soon.
Have you not witnessed what Nigerians do with just a little power? Security guards, body guards, receptionist at a lonely desk, random employee who has stayed a minute longer than you at a company… every Nigerian is SARS.
If you have that uniform, you’ll be just as brutal, manipulative, inconsiderate, terribly unkind, drunk with power, abusive and corrupt.
This is you. Your religion doesn’t teach you otherwise. In Nigeria, nothing truly teaches you how to be a human being.
You build a mansion in the village after three years in Ukraine and not even your mother will ask you how in hell you finally made all that money. They’ll rejoice. Eat jollof rice and thank God.
We can’t criticise how pastors get so damn rich without foolish members tearing out their wigs and beards. That’s us. A corrupt people, unwilling to dialogue, unable to give account.
Everything is a miracle. Everything. One minute you are dirt poor, the next minute you are stinking rich…yet no one will ask the simple question: How did this happen?
When they do, they are labelled “haters”.
Yet… we are e-shocked that this society breeds drunken power and absolute control.
We are SARS.
We can’t end SARS, until we fix us. A name change isn’t what we require. We need an overhaul, not of our values (as we like to pride ourselves as having pristine values *yawn)… we need to overhaul the shit stuck in our minds telling us that we become what we do not prepare for… that we are a living testament to God’s yada yada… that we are a miracle.
You are no miracle. You are what you prepare to become.
Make room for consequences, then we wouldn’t need a thousand hashtags every damn time to fight our demons when they appear in front of us as SARS or police or politicians.
We are SARS.
By Joy Isi Bewaji