By Praise Davies
It’s the type of heart-breaking bad news that our young hearts and minds cannot comprehend. Why must terrorists seeking attention make innocent children in concert halls their target? Why must they go for such “soft targets” as they call it? It’s such a sad, sad wicked world.
I was just thinking of the Manchester Arena tragedy when another one took place on a night of nightmare in London, on the famous London Bridge. I remembered the old kindergarten song: “London Bridge is falling down, falling down…” But thankfully, London Bridge did not fall apart to terrorism.
As a fan of Ariana Grande, this was one musical show I would have attended, if it had been in Lagos. From that standpoint, what happened in Manchester could have happened anywhere because terrorism has no borders. The build up to the D-day was electric! The jostle for the tickets was as stiff as a race between Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin. Sold out concert! Date was May 22, 2017 and thousands of fun-loving fans, mostly children and youths had converged on the Manchester Arena for the Ariana Grande Concert. The followers of Ariana Grande call themselves Arianators and I am one big Arianator. But just as the night was strolling into perfection, the ‘devil’ came calling, codenamed ‘Salman Abedi’, a young man of Libyan descent born in the same Manchester, ironically the city of his death via suicide bomb. Salma, the messenger of death orchestrated the bomb explosions that rocked the arena leaving himself, 22 others including an eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos dead, with over a hundred people injured as well!
My first reaction was one of shock and sincere sympathy. Up till this moment I cannot fully understand why or how any human being was able to summon courage not only to take his own life but also kill innocent people including children. Then, it crossed my mind, this could be a terror attack! And it was, indeed! Day after day, ridiculous thoughts apart from the reasons given by the police got me thinking. Questions like: why on earth would anyone, decide to be an instrument of death? What could have led Salman to derive fulfilment in taking his life and that of others? Was this suicide bomber deprived of a healthy childhood?
Or, let’s even imagine this: could it be that he had a crush on Ariana and got frustrated that she never noticed him so he decided to die a dramatic death that at least would ensure she knows his name even though she would most definitely hate him? Was he just someone who was depressed and wanted to die dramatically not really considering who died with him too? Was he under threats to do what he did or was he simply brainwashed by some radical people? These and many more questions kept running through my mind. And one after another the answers came along as provided by CNN which I followed closely for every update.
But before I go further, let’s talk about Ariana. Ariana Grande-Buteran popularly known as Ariana Grande (or ‘Cat’ by her teen and preteen fans who know and love her because of the ‘cute and innocent’ role she played in the Nickelodeon series ‘SAM AND CAT’ and ‘VICTORIOUS’). They are her core fans. The singer and actress got my attention in the series ‘VICTORIOUS’. Her likeable personality, pretty and innocent looks are undeniable attractions. And in spite of playing the role of ‘the not-so-smart cute girl’, we love her still.
Ariana began her career in Broadway at age 13 before getting the role of ‘Cat Valentine’ in the Nickelodeon television series ‘VICTORIOUS’ in 2009. This series lasted four seasons after which she starred in the spinoff ‘SAM AND CAT’ where she was co-starred with Jennette McCurdy popularly known as ‘SAM’ from another Nickelodeon television series iCarly. Her music career started with the soundtrack from ‘VICTORIOUS’ in 2011. She then signed a recording contract with ‘Republic Records’ and has released quite a number of albums.
Worthy of mention is her debut album titled “YOURS TRULY”. Music enthusiasts often compare her vocal range to that of Mariah Carey who Ariana admits she adores. Therefore, whoever planned the attack had clearly defined target victims which were children. This fact scares me! It actually means that a group of people have no compassion for children anymore. I mean innocent children!
Reacting to the attacks, Ariana tweeted: “Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.” I can only imagine how not only Ariana but also all the people who lost loved ones or got injured in the attack feel right now. She has since announced her plan to stage a ‘benefit concert’ for the bombing victims. The Ariana Benefit Concert tagged “ONE LOVE MANCHESTER” was sold out within six minutes of opening the portal. Report further says some people even tried to obtain the free ticket under false claims. That means the Manchester Attack hasn’t in anyway diminished fans’ love for Ariana. The benefit concert took place on June 5 at Trafford cricket ground, just two miles away from the arena. It was amazing as about 50,000 people were in attendance. Also, famous artists like Miley Cyrus, Justin Beiber, Pharrell Williams, Katty Perry and Coldplay graced the event to show solidarity with the people of Manchester against terrorism.
Now to the suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, he was from a family of six. The second youngest of four children. Salman was born and bred in Manchester by his mother, Samia Tabbal and Ramadan Abedi his father. Mr. Ramadan is a security officer who with his wife came as refugees to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime after which they returned to their country Libya. According to The Telegraph News, an anonymous Muslim community worker told a broadcaster that two people who knew Abedi at the college “tipped off” officers after he made statements “supporting terrorism” and expressing the view that “being a suicide bomber was OK”. Based on this, it’s no surprise that Salman was involved in this attack. So, if he was indeed brainwashed, the process didn’t just start days before the attack. That revelation made me realise that the attack had nothing to do with any crush on or obsession with Ariana, instead, it was an act carried out by someone who knew exactly what he was doing. He was aware of the consequences and still went ahead with it based on his belief and support for terrorism.
News has is that ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the police are still trying to get to the root of this case with some arrests made and valuable clues at hand. Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister Theresa May has initiated ‘OPERATION TEMPERER’ with which the British government plans to deploy troops to support police officers in key locations to forestall possible attacks. The Manchester attack shows that terrorism is a global challenge that calls for vigilance and collaborations among security agencies as well as the international community to put an end to needless killings and wanton destruction that come with the menace.
In Nigeria, the Boko Haram insurgency remains a clog in the wheels of our security. The kidnap of the Chibok girls (thank God for the rescue of a number of them) and other captives as well as series of bombings especially in citadels of learning calls for concern. Question is how secure are our schools? How protected are venues of convergence of persons: ranging from churches to event centres and so on?
As a teenager, I’m very much aware of the efforts by the Federal Government in ensuring that terrorism is a thing of the past. This, I hope and pray will be improved upon. I believe parents have a vital role to play, too. We must all support our government and security agencies by giving information on anything or anyone suspected of acts of terrorism. It’s for our safety—our future.
Let’s all unite and join in the war against terrorism!