The Fear of the unknown

By Fr Pat Amobi Chukwuka

A certain couple was sleeping with their four children in their 3-bedroom flat in the first floor of a 4-storey building a fortnight ago. After midnight, a wall gecko fell on the head of the mother of four. She screamed and shouted, “Fire! Fire!! Fire!!! Back to sender!” Out of fear of the unknown, the husband jumped out of the window and accidentally fell down into an open tank filled with water.

He battled to save his life and to avoid being drowned at home. When the security man heard his shouting and screaming, he shot twice into the air in order to dispel any attack of an intruder. The drowning father of four became more frightened. He called the security man by his name, shouting, “Sule! Sule!! It is me, papa Favour! Stop shooting! Come and rescue me from this water tank before I die!” Sule recognized his voice and rushed to the tank with his burning torch.

He assisted the fearful and drowning tenant out of the water tank. For one month the rescued father of four did not drink water because his entire body system was over watered. Anyone who eats a head of watermelon and drinks enough water on top of it has drunk overdose.

Three days ago, I was taking my normal fitness walk along residential quarters. Suddenly, a middle-aged woman ran out of one of the houses. She was half naked and was running at a high speed. Out of inquisitiveness I asked in a loud tone, “Mama, what is happening?” She shouted, “Run away for your dear life!” Since life has no duplicate and a dead man does not give account of what transpired, I ran into a nearby bush and took cover like a gallant soldier.

I was breathing heavily like a lizard that fell from an iroko tree. There and behold, an elderly man was pursuing the woman with a double barrel gun. He was fuming. He shot twice into the air and shouted, “Foolish woman! I must kill you today!” By God’s grace some courageous men ran after him and overpowered him. They carefully snatched the loaded gun from his hands.

He was fuming and shouting, “Leave me to kill this stupid woman of no respect!” I came out from my hiding place and drew nearer to the scene. We enquired what was amiss. A tenant who was an eyewitness told us that the woman on the run slapped the gun wielding man, who is her validly married husband. The fear of the unknown exists also in marriage. It is for better or for worse.

A fearful event happened again few days ago around the area of my pastoral assignment. I was strenuously walking fast along a hilly road to keep mind and body at equilibrium. Unexpectedly, I saw a fearful masquerade coming opposite me.

Thick black smoke was coming out of his mysterious head. He was also brandishing a sharp machete in his right hand. A little amount of fear grabbed me due to the human element in me. Instantly I made the Sign of the Cross and soliloquized, “The devil is a liar.” I convinced myself that as a priest of God I am more powerful than the fearful masquerade.

I was holding an umbrella on my left hand because the sky was cloudy. The ferocious masquerade stopped before me. I also halted. He raised his machete up to frighten me. Then I raised my anointed hand prayerfully. Power met power. Immediately the masquerade shouted in esoteric voice, “Abia ha-oo! (They have come-o!) I don’t want to die-o!” He ran into the bush and disappeared like lightening.

I couldn’t control my laughter. I asserted, “I thought you have died before.”He ran away for fear of the unknown. I laughed and laughed till I got home. Someone who knew me asked me, “Father, why are laughing alone?” I replied, “I am laughing for fear of the unknown.” He asked me what the fear of the unknown meant. I told him that it shall be a topic of discussion for another day because darkness was descending.

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. But the fear of the unknown is the climax of insecurity. In 2019, the fear of Coronavirus led to the lockdown of everything. Schools, offices and markets were closed. Even the places of divine worship were also under lock and key.

Thus God and the people were separated for months. The worst was that the Holy Week liturgical ceremonies and Easter were suspended for the fear of COVID-19. The congregation went on exile while the ministers of God were de-flocked and rendered redundant. Satan, the Commander of evil forces, rejoiced because of the closure of churches and other places of divine worship.

The powers that be ordered everybody to sit at home. The wearing of face mask became a law. Everyone became half human and half masquerade. Hardly could you recognize any face again. After sitting at home and covering the mouth for a long time, the virus of hunger broke out.

Necessity forced many people to go out and look for something to eat. The Federal, States, philanthropic groups and individuals shared palliatives here and there, but they were not enough. The mask on the mouth was torn for food and drinks to enter the stomach which was almost decaying. The virus of hunger fought with corona virus. There was no victor and no vanquished.

The 2020 Christmas celebration came and we taught that COVID-19 has gone. We entered the New Year 2021 with higher expectations. January passed and February arrived. Surprisingly it was announced that the second wave of Coronavirus has come with greater force.

All were advised to observe the protocols more seriously. The wearing of face masks resumed in earnest. This time people preferred washing of hands before food than for the fear of coronavirus. We should continue to thank God for shielding us Africans, especially Nigerians, from the dire consequences of the COVID-19 because who do not have facilities. Indeed God protects a cow without tail from the menace of flies.

Before now, insecurity was the order of the day in the North-East of Nigeria. Unfortunately today, it has spread to all parts of this country. The Federal Government can no more guarantee the lives and properties of her citizens. It is now to your tents O Israel! Nigerians and residents are now living in fear of the unknown. Boko Haram, Fulani bloody herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits and cultists are on the loose.

Blood is flowing here and there. As if enough is not enough, unknown gunmen are leashing bloody mayhem all over the places. Even security men are mostly targeted. Anambra State, which hitherto had been the safest state in Nigeria, is being attacked on frequent basis by the unknown gunmen.

Innocent lives are destroyed and valuable properties burnt. We are gradually returning to Thomas Hobbes concept of State of Nature, where might is right and the survival of the fittest reigns. The sky is cloudy. The song of war is sounding seriously. God forbid!

Our economy is dwindling seriously. Many foreign and local investors have relocated to other countries due to the fear of the unknown in Nigeria. Hardship is written on the faces of millions of Nigerians. Our Naira has depreciated so much. The Federal Government resorted to the printing of more money to meet her various needs. This worsens the economy more and leads to total economic failure.

The printing of more money ends in serious inflation. The fear of insecurity, hunger, leadership failure and war outweigh any virus. We need the vaccine of security more than coronavirus vaccine. We need food on the table more than face masks.  We need prayers more than hand sanitizer. We need peace more than war. An elder does not sit at home while a she-goat gives birth tethered on a rope.

The States House of Assembly and the National Assembly members should discuss nothing else now than the security of lives and properties of Nigerians. A person whose house is burning does not pursue rats. Those politicians pursuing their future agenda by all means ought to know that it is only a living person that can vote and be voted for.

The polity is seriously heated. Senseless killings are going on here and there. People are being kidnapped and slaughtered like fowls on daily basis. The fear of the unknown is giving all Nigerians sleepless nights. God, deliver us!