Samuel O. Okanlawon
Black coloured George Perry Floyd Jr. (October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020) was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by chauvinistic Derek Chauvin, a white coloured Police officer and ably aided by three other whitecoloured Police officers. George Floyd died with the following words on his lips: “I can’t breathe”. This event has sparked intense protests, being tagged “Black Lives Matter”, in over four hundred (400) cities throughout fifty (50) American cities and internationally.
The protests are centred on the increasing molestation, brutality, and unjust killings of black coloured people in the United States. But as the late MajekFashek sang: “only the angels of God are white now”.
But roll back to April 4, 1968, when the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was carried out. Protests erupted all over America and began the affirmation of the right of Blacks to be coloured. This event began the tortuous journey of the affirmation of the rights of the blacks to live and be human in the United States.
History repeats itself. It is a cycle. Something is going to give way in the United States. The oppression, brutality and unjust killings of black coloured people in the US will halt. And the oppression will happen again. And the cycle will happen again. Some will rise again to suppress the oppression. It’s a cycle. History will always repeat itself. Only God is unchangeable. God and change are constantly constant.
As the blacks in America are rising against racism in America, there is going to be a rising against every form of “racisism” going on in the Nigerian polity. Rape, banditry, political brigandage, mismanagement of our national resources, miscarriage of justice, ethnic and religious-inclined killings, marginalization, and all evils being perpetrated by a minority against the majority or vice versa are all forms of “racism”. One day, all of these will give way. History will happen again.
Just like George Floyd said before he breathe his last, “I can’t breathe”, many Nigerians can no longer breathe. Our girls and women can no longer breathe. Our sisters, mothers and wives can no longer breathe because they are being raped without any consequence.
Our students in the University can no longer breathe because of incessant strikes and the stifling and caging of student unionism.
There is a kneeling on our throats in the educational system, national politics, places of worship, University unionisms, etc and we cannot breathe. But watch it. Something will give way some day. Those who prevent peaceful change are inviting forceful and vicious change. The child that says the mother will not sleep will also not taste sleep. I know this by experience because I used to be a “street boy”, who did not give his mother peace. Something will give way.
Watch it! Watch your back very closely. You, who perpetuate a hegemonic tradition of servitude. You, who suppress the legitimate voice of humanity, student activism, academic freedom, the universalisation of the University for the sake of parochial interests, and perpetuate the oppression of the female gender. Something will give way one day.
Parochialism will give way to broadmindedness. Prebendalism will give way to merit. Sycophancy will give way to speaking truth to power. Falsehood will give way to truth. Religiosity and “irreligiosity” will give way to spirituality. Rule of the minority over the majority will give way to brokered and agreed leadership. Pandemic of racism will give way to a breath of fresh air (not that of former President Goodluck Jonathan).
There will be a de-orientation and a re-orienatation; declassification and a reclassification; a de-cocialisation and a re-socialisation. Nothing lasts forever. The earlier those who are “suffocating” us “repent” the better. Watch your back!
Okanlawon is Senior Lecturer in Christian Theology, Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan