It was Chief Zebrudaya Okorigwe Nwogbo, Alias 4:30 (Chika Okpala) who in one episode of his comedic program said, “If you are lie too much, that you are believe ya own lie, you have gone crazy.” I have tried not to lie. If I do, it is necessary for survival, and I try not to believe my lies. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t celebrate when our ‘youth’ teams win anything outside Africa. In Africa, I celebrate, because na dog eat dog. Outside Africa, I pity those Europeans kids playing our men. But that is another issue for another day.
I know that it is religious and African not to speak ill of the dead, but I’m really tired of lying to myself. We are expected to eulogise the dead regardless of their conduct while they were alive. I don’t want to that. A few years ago, a very wicked neighbour of mine died, and we were all expected to pray for him to “rest in pece”, even when everyone present knows that there was no way he would rest, let alone do it in peace.
At the peak of this man’s “career” of treachery and wickedness, my old man pled with him to change the way he treats people, because this same people he maltreats will be the ones who will accompany him to the grave. The man’s reply was “if they don’t bury me because I’m their neighbour or brother, they must to avoid my stench!” And now he is dead and we were still expected to pray for him, and not speak ill of him.
I don’t have problem with praying for my neighbour or his kind, but I believe that doing so is a waste of time. Yes, we were taught that on account of our prayers, the dead may enjoy some reprieve from punishment. But is it also not teachings of Islam and Christianity that we not expect wicked people to rest in peace? Can they escape God’s wrath just because I prayed for them? I am not judging anyone. I’m only repeating God’s judgement – that He awaits us with reward or punishment on account of our actions/inactions on earth.
If people say may his or her soul rest in peace, I’ll say “amen” if I know the deceased to be good and deserving or if I don’t know the person at all. But if the steal pension funds leaving old people who served the country to die; if you steal funds meant for hospital and run abroad when you have ordinary toothache or whitlow: if you steal funs roads because you always fly, leaving innocents to die in the process; if you are profiting from war and ethnic/religious crisis; if you engage in rituals, if you steal funds meant for education, killing our education system in the process, but sponsor your own children to the best foreign schools; if as a result of your looting, we have to queue as early as 4.00am rice, detergent, and other essential commodities, then when you die and people say may his soul rest in peace, I’ll just walk away. No need wasting my precious amen. I’ll be stingy with it. I know it will not work. The Qur’an says it will not work. The Bible says it will not work.
When I first moved to Kaduna from Zaria, in a neighbouring community, a man scaled the fence to his house to go and rape his neighbour’s 13 year old daughter to death. Yes, he crossed the fence! But when he was outed by the 5 year old brother of the victim, he didn’t wait either real or jungle justice, they claimed he drank poison and died. The Mai Unguwa was so angry he said “kuje ku sa shi a rami ku dawo”; that, they should just go and dump him in a hole and come back. And some people said no. He should be given proper burial. They turned to an elder, and he angrily said, digging a whole requires labour, which means some people will suffer. Go to the back put a tire on the body and burn it. They looked at me and saw that, even as a stranger in the area I was angrier. I have no time for nonsense. They still went ahead to pray for him (waste of time) and buried him.
It is morally and religiously wrong, and even inhuman to sometimes wish someone die, pray for them to repent and change, if they are type to change and repent. If not ask God to take them away from their source power and authority over. But it is even evil celebrate, gloat or mock the dead. But don’t ask me to mourn people who do not deserve; those who the Qur’an and Bible have already condemned them to hell right from here on earth.
I hold this position because, though I may be religiously or culturally naïve, I always ask myself does saying “do not speak ill against the dead” also translates to SPEAK LIES IN FAVOUR OF THE DEAD? I think if a man dies, we should just pray for him, since it is norm, and keep quite. Saying a man or woman represents what he does not or saying he/she is what he/she is not in itself a sin against God, for we are lying. Therein lay my dilemma in this post today. I read of former British Prime Minister, “Iron Lady”, Baroness Margaret Thatcher’s death on Twitter yesterday at 87. Even as I have issues with such prayers, I’ll have no problem been religiously, culturally and politically correct to say May Her Soul Rest In Peace.
Where I have problem is the used of word “GREAT” to describe this woman, especially by Africans. No problem if young Africans below 40 refer to Mrs Thatcher as great. I also have no problem if British people refer to as great. Because they (England, Scotland and Wales) were her first priority as a leader, and she did right by some of them.
Still a great majority of her own people are not happy with her because of her “reverse Robinhood” policies of taking from the poor to give the rich. When the poor labourers heard of her dead they started singing, “Ding dong ding dong, the witch is dead”. But that is their problem. Ours is that any African above the age of 40 who pronounce Baroness Thatcher as “Great”, either did not know the meaning of the word, or that he/she is amnesiac, or worst, the person fits Chief Zebrudaya’s description of the crazy, for the person has been lying to himself and believing his own lies. How we can we display such complete lack of sense of our history that is not so long?
How can a woman, who alongside America’s Ronald Reagan, did everything within her power, in 12 years of reign, to foil any attempt to impose sanction against the White Supremacist government of South Africa be considered “great”? How can a woman who value profits repatriated by British companies from South Africa more than the lives hundreds of black South Africans, who were tortured, jailed maimed and murdered by the Apartheid regime be considered “great”? Thatcher and Reagan have used vetoes against any form of rebuke or sanction by the UN on Pieter Willem Botha’s apathetic regime.
At worst, her government and British companies sabotage it, either doing exactly what the rest of the world says should not be done, or by not doing what the rest of the world wants, simply because she want to maintain the minority white regime of South Africa in power.
How can a woman whose government, nationals and companies under her watch supported and funded Jonas Savimbi and his UNITA rebels in their war against Angolan people be considered “great” by any African? This woman’s son, Mark Thatcher, is an arm’s dealer, who goes from one African country to another to supply them with arms. It is believed that he runs the family’s business. This son of Lady Thatcher was arrested by South African security forces in 2004 for organizing a coup against Equatorial Guinea. He pleaded guilty, under a plea bargain.
Thatcher’s son was fined and given a “suspended jail-time” due to the “mother’s influence”. Why would a woman who showed so much disdain for Africans be considered “great” by same Africans? She was not one to pretend. she made it absolutely clear where she stand in the African struggle. Can we be saying Thatcher is “great”, if we were South Africans, Equatorial Guineans or Angolans? Should it even matter if we are not?
I don’t think any South African will refer to this woman as great – not even the REAL GREAT MAN, Nelson Mandela. He may have forgive her, alright (the man has Jesus-like heart for forgiveness), but will he qualify her as great? No! Mandela will never refer to a woman who justified his imprisonment and her own support for the minority White Apartheid regime by describing him and all ANC members (about 90% of South Africans at the time) as “TERRORISTS”, just for seeking to be free of the shackles of the White Apartheid regime.
Another GREAT global citizen, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, may forgive her too (he is a man of God), but not refer to her as great. He was once quoted as saying, “no leader has worked against the people of South Africa like Lady Thatcher and Ronald Reagan”. To me, the action of the woman contributed in no small way in prolonging Mandela’s and South Africa’s freedom by more than a decade.
Right until her death yesterday, this woman was unrepentant – she refused to apologies to Black South Africans for calling them “terrorists” or even acknowledge that she was wrong. Even when the opportunity to redeem herself avail itself when she met Mandela later, she still refused to apologies or acknowledge that she was wrong. At least the current Prime Minister, also of same party as her, has acknowledged that she was wrong.
Our own President, Dr. GEJ, who is also our chief diplomat, has for that reason already declared that, “Thatcher was one of the greatest leaders of our time”. It is diplomatically okay for him to say so. At least one special diplomatic skill that Heads of States must have is the ability to lie to foreign countries to make their own country look good. But it is important that our Oga does not believe his own lie. That will be a serious tragedy. We must never forget who this woman was and what she represented while alive.
This woman is simply a racist, as far I’m concerned. And if Nigerians see this woman as great, then may be one day we will just wake some Liberians will one day say that Gaddafi is great, and; may be, people of Sierra Leone will also see Charles Taylor as a great man.
Stepping out of Africa, may be Argentinians will declare Thatcher as great, for using her country’s military might to defeat them in war over Falkland Island, which is just a couple of kilometers away from Argentina, and about 8,000 away from England (that war cost 755 Argentine lives), just because of oil found on the Island and because some White Settlers want to maintain their British identity. JUST MAY BE!!!
I’ll grudgingly say MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE, but I will not lie to myself again, I’m just tired. So, I’ll also say that SHE IS NOT GREAT. May be she was to some Britons and to a lot of White settlers in South Africa and Argentina, but surely not to me or any African with a sense of history. That woman is the true representation of evil in Africa. It doesn’t matter if she had given $1million to each of other 6.2billion people in the world, to us in Africa, she is evil.
Thatcher is like that wicked stepmother who pampers her own children with delicious meals on the dining table, and makes her step children eat crumbs in the kitchen. Her children will say she is best mum ever, but definitely not those stepchildren. I wonder why any African above 40 will hail her. If the person is below that, I’ll say “well, may be, he didn’t read about her actions in Africa or no one told him who this woman was or what she represents”; but not above that age. How can I ever forget her shameful role in the subjugation of Africa and Africans? NEVER!