By Uche Amunike
I have been through hell and back by virtue of my nationality as a Nigerian. Yeah! I can truthfully say I have literally seen it all. Talk about the hardship in this country for as long as I can remember. Where do I even start from? Is it the constant hike in fuel prices? Or is it the strike actions by medical doctors and Academic Staff Union of Universities from time to time which is no longer news, or even the other major sectors in the country?
Do we talk about poor leadership from the highest echelons in our society, or the massive rigging of elections right before the very eyes of the electorate at the centre during every electoral period? What about the endless killings of innocent Nigerians for reasons best known to the marauders, especially the recurrent mass killings of innocent Nigerians by the Fulani herdsmen. Need I mention the stoic silence of the president of our dear country no matter how many corpses are buried after being slain by his kinsmen, the violent herdsmen? And Oh, I remember the MKO Abiolas of our time, the Kudirat Abiolas, and Pa Alfred Rewane? What about Bola Ige and Funsho Williams? Have I mentioned the young Barrister Emeka Igwe that was murdered in cold blood at Awada-Obosi, alongside his pregnant wife? Nigeria my country has truly been one without any dull moments, I tell you. So, when I say we have seen it all, I say it without pride or prejudice.
It was in this country that four innocent young boys were brutally tortured and set ablaze in Aluu, River state. What about Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others who were executed at Ogoni? What about the recent pipeline explosion that killed and displaced hundreds of Nigerians at the Abule Ado part of Lagos most recently? what about the hundreds of millions of naira worth of property destroyed in that inferno? and yet, Nigeria are standing tall and determined to survive. The list goes on and on. Nigeria has no dull moments, I tell you. Through it all, we have survived as a people, always looking up to God and keeping faith. Nigerians are just created with tough skin and we always overcome.
The present Coronavirus scourge in the country, however has made me wonder if we shall truly overcome like we always did in the past. I do not remember this country ever being as tensed up as we presently are for any medical reason. I have never experienced such fear as I feel presently. Some governors have tested positive just as the son of Atiku Abubakar and the speaker of Edo State House of Assembly have also suffered same fate. Lagos is almost shut down as civil servants are home just as most markets are closed down.
The Catholic churches in Lagos are no longer celebrating masses and wedding ceremonies are just put on hold for now. It's a dicey situation and some other states have followed suit. Anambra of course, has set down rules for everyone to live by for our own general safety. Governor Dave Umahi also did same while Governor Wike has said that all borders around his state will be closed so that no vehicles can come into his state or leave. It is expedient for everyone to understand that fighting this scourge is a collective responsibility if we want to get it right. Unfortunately, a lot of people do not understand how serious the situation is.
The good old residents of Onitsha still dismiss it with a wave of the hand out of ignorance. That scares the living daylights out of me. I was changing my brake pads just yesterday morning at the mechanic workshop and I listened to people arguing back and forth about the coronavirus and all they kept saying was that it was just a scam by the government to syphon our money as usual. I took me almost half an hour to correct that impression and guess what? They still didn't believe me.
All I could think of was the kind of crowd we have in the Onitsha Main Market, Ochanja Market, the Mgbuka Markets both at Nkpor and Obosi, the Textile Market at the Niger Bridgehead market and all the other over crowded markets in the state. If an infected person goes to any of these markets, then there will be a real pandemic situation in the state. Thankfully, schools have been closed indefinitely and at least, our children are safely within our reach. We however need to educate and enlighten them on how best to improve on their hygiene and stay safe. I came across this beautiful message from Bill Gates. Let me share it with you. It made a whole lot of sense to me. I hope you learn greatly from the wisdom in his words. Please read…
What is the Corona/ Covid-19 Virus Really Teaching us?
I'm a strong believer that there is a spiritual purpose behind everything that happens, whether that is what we perceive as being good or being bad.
As I meditate upon this, I want to share with you what I feel the Corona/ Covid-19 virus is really doing to us:
1) It is reminding us that we are all equal, regardless of our culture, religion, occupation, financial situation or how famous we are. This disease treats us all equally, perhaps we should to. If you don't believe me, just ask Tom Hanks.
2) It is reminding us that we are all connected and something that affects one person has an effect on another. It is reminding us that the false borders that we have put up have little value as this virus does not need a passport. It is reminding us, by oppressing us for a short time, of those in this world whose whole life is spent in oppression.
3) It is reminding us of how precious our health is and how we have moved to neglect it through eating nutrient poor manufactured food and drinking water that is contaminated with chemicals upon chemicals. If we don't look after our health, we will, of course, get sick.
4) It is reminding us of the shortness of life and of what is most important for us to do, which is to help each other, especially those who are old or sick. Our purpose is not to buy toilet roll.
5) It is reminding us of how materialistic our society has become and how, when in times of difficulty, we remember that it's the essentials that we need (food, water, medicine) as opposed to the luxuries that we sometimes unnecessarily give value to.
6) It is reminding us of how important our family and home life is and how much we have neglected this. It is forcing us back into our houses so we can rebuild them into our home and to strengthen our family unit.
7) It is reminding us that our true work is not our job, that is what we do, not what we were created to do. Our true work is to look after each other, to protect each other and to be of benefit to one another.
8) It is reminding us to keep our egos in check. It is reminding us that no matter how great we think we are or how great others think we are,
a virus can bring our world to a standstill.
9) It is reminding us that the power of freewill is in our hands. We can choose to cooperate and help each other, to share, to give, to help and to support each other or we can choose to be selfish, to hoard, to look after
only our self. Indeed, it is difficulties that bring out our true colors.
10) It is reminding us that we can be patient, or we can panic. We can either understand that this type of situation has happened many times before in history and will pass, or we can panic and see it as the end of the world and, consequently, cause ourselves more harm than good.
11) It is reminding us that this can either be an end or a new beginning. This can be a time of reflection and understanding, where we learn from our mistakes, or it can be the start of a cycle which will continue until we finally learn the lesson we are meant to.
12) It is reminding us that this Earth is sick. It is reminding us that we need to look at the rate of deforestation just as urgently as we look at the speed at which toilet rolls are disappearing off of shelves. We are sick because our home is sick.
13) It is reminding us that after every difficulty, there is always ease. Life is cyclical, and this is just a phase in this great cycle. We do not need to panic; this too shall pass.
14) Whereas many see the Corona/ Covid-19 virus as a great disaster, I prefer to see it as a *great corrector*
It is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten and it is up to us if we will learn them or not.