A day ago, a cyclone hit Mozambique and as of now, the death toll is increasing. Let us pray for our siblings in Mozambique. They are bracing and putting in measures to brace against this. A few people on some platforms were shocked to discover that such a thing can happen in Africa, especially as it seems they only happen in oyinbo land. But there is the warning for Malawi and Zimbabwe too. I pray that it doesn’t get worse in that part – or in any part of our continent. It has been a horrible week, since Sunday, with news on almost a daily basis of one tragedy or the other, in different parts of the continent. God take control…
We also woke to news of the crazy killings in Christchurch, New Zealand. Shootings at two mosques and at least 49 were killed. The shooter is said to be a supremacist white and his crime being considered as a hate crime. There are debates now across several media channels on if he was right or wrong. This is in part due to the response of an Australian senator who blamed the Muslims for the attack. Fraser Anning’s comment has left a lot of people divided on who to support in a near open and close case that, as our dear Patrick Obahiagbon would say, is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf. Several people have condemned his statement, including the UK home secretary, Sajid Javid, former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnball and the current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
I am sure there are a couple of people from developing countries who would be happy to know the unthinkable behaviour of politicians and some statements that are quite surprising are not the exclusive preserves of their nations. Even oyinbo masef dey goof!
On the other hand, and importantly, the shooter has been charged to court! Swift administration of justice. Makes you wonder what would have happened here… Makes you wonder about all those shootings and kidnappings from Buni Yadi to Chibok and everywhere else… How far with that tori? But let us leave that one, for the moment. We have bigger headaches and more collapsed issues to talk about. That’s right. And I am shouting: PUN INTENDED here right now.
In Ibadan, our own Ibadan, a three storey building under construction collapsed. (Seriously, what is this thing with three-storey buildings?) So far, the reports claim there are no deaths, even though several of the rescued people are injured. This happens only a few days after the Lagos school collapse. In that case, as we know, it was a three-storey residential building that had a school on the top floor. About twenty people are confirmed to have died in that collapse.
The Lagos collapse was the same day that we had the candlelight for Prof Pius Adesanmi and I mentioned that the procession was for our coming disasters and collapses. Here we are today, with Ibadan. One would sound like a prophet of doom but we know the truth: it will still happen and who knows, how soon?
Only last year, there was a noted building collapse in Ibadan that killed 10 people. The building was under construction too o! Do we remember when T. B. Joshua’s building collapsed in 2014 with 116 people dying? On 8 March 2016, a five-storey building collapsed while under construction in Lekki, Lagos. 34 people were killed while thirteen were rescued and taken to the hospital. What of the celebrated 2016 case when more than 100 people died when the roof of a church in Uyo caved in? These are the ones that come to mind immediately. If you think of it deeply, you will remember one that happened somewhere around you. I know I have seen a number in Abuja.
And the interesting thing is that in most of these cases, what you will get to hear is that the buildings were distressed. The government would have found out and marked it for demolition or something. .. Then what?
In this light, the cyclones keep coming smashing souls and giving us needless deaths. How long do we have to keep weeping? How do we get to start thinking of implementation over just ticking a box to show that we have done what we ought to do? How many more lives do we need to sacrifice? It is easy to blame government but can we interrogate ourselves too? Those of us who own (and even those who stay in) distressed buildings that are clearly marked for demolition, or even if they aren’t, what do we think of? As owners, don’t we know that we are as guilty as that shooter in New Zealand when people die? Those of us who are meant to enforce these rules and don’t; those of us who collect small kobo and refuse to mark these buildings or demolish them as we should, don’t we all know that we are mass murderers?
And then, you see a government official – usually the Governor or Deputy or one big man or the other – going to the site for pic-op. A speech is given and then, they go back to doing whatever it is they do that doesn’t translate into progress for our people… Isn’t that Senator guy in Australia better than them? At least, he is speaking his mind and we know his stand. These ones who keep dribbling us and eating away our destiny, are they not worse?
Achebe says that writers don’t give prescriptions, they give headaches. Toh, maybe we should just keep giving these headaches till someone decides to listen.
Wherever you are, be the change that your place needs, biko. Whether as landlord, tenant, Executive, official, or just ordinary citizen. It must not be in stopping a building from collapsing… It can be from stopping any other thing to collapse. You can! Yes, you can!
In whatever way you can. And if there is something right you can do, don’t neglect it. Let us be careful not to create more cyclones in this our shaky country. The wahala don too plenti.