The title of this post's the very first line in my homecountry's 'National Anthem'.Since the unsuccessful attempt of the suicide bomber last week,I really didn't think much of it until today.
Hubby and I were at the Nigerian Consulate earlier in the day to collect our new e-passports('e' is the abbreviation for 'ECOWAS which stands for 'Economic Community of West African States).The previous one is not even half-full and still has a couple of years more to expiration.But there's a deadline to its expiration for Nigerian Passport holders across the globe.Anyway,to cut a long story short,being there really made me feel somewhat nostalgic and I just felt this sense of patriotism.The Channel on the DSTV was CNN...go figure!Fellow Nigerians present there joked about how US's going to halt any visa offering to Nigerians because of this shocking discovery.I had a few words to say too.I mean,applicants practically sleep at the US consulate in Lagos,so they may as well just close it up,if that's what they wish to do.
But coming back to the real issue here,I am personally affected not just as a Nigerian,but as a Muslim.I have eased things for myself by accepting that 'islamophobia' is here to stay.But that doesn't suffice to say that I won't get concerned whenever there's some news (which happens more often than not) about some Suicide bombers in Afghanistan,Karachi,Pakistan,Iraq or anywhere in the world for that matter.It is really mindbuggling and saddening that people take things to the extreme and do not value human lives.Since when did my country get 'international attention' for 'bombing'?I mean,it used to be '419' and the famous 'Computer Scam'...like those weren't enough for negative publicity.What really bothers me is the 'stereotyping' one gets,innocent or ignorant,guilty or not.The fact that once you mention your nationality as a Nigerian,you get a quizzical look and a very suspicious one too,surely doesn't want you to scream 'am proudly Nigerian' anywhere you find yourself;hostile territory or not!And here I am clamouring for 'peace','patriotism','giving back' and all that mantra'bout true nationalism....I must be kidding myself,I think!
I mean,where do I actually begin?The consequences of the 'label' we have been tagged as a nation not really affects the so-called leaders directly,but the ordinary citizens like myself.
I will never forget the Bank experience while in England,a few years back.We were refused practically because we were first of all 'Blacks' and to worsen an already bad situation,by being 'Nigerians'.Hubby told me some of the Banks wouldn't open an account for me but he wasn't going to accept that lying low...I trust him for that.After the 'diplomatic' refusal at two different Banks,we ended up at Barclay's and we got our way..not without some resilience of course!
The South African experience is far worse,but not just because am a Nigerian....for a regular South African,being a foreigner is all you need to be stigmatised!No pun intended,that's the effect of"post-apartheid.Hopefully,they'll get over it sometime in the future.But what came as a teeny,weeny,tiny relief was the fact that an average South African knows something about Nigerian soccer or 'Home videos,really gave me a sense of 'patriotism' and made made me 'a little proud'.I won't go as far as saying that I can 'walk with my head up high'.. that would be overstating the fact.
I won't beat myself up for something I wasn't 'directly responsible' for,but it just isn't easy (at least not for me) to discard the news or hold it with a pinch of salt either.I mean,we've got enough going on in our backyards as it is already.We certainly do not need some spoilt and confused brat adding salt to injury.One thing I can say for certain is the fact that,the young man had his 'hypnotic state' into this cult of suicide bombers abroad.I do not have the statistics,but I don't even need one to ascertain the fact that,'my people love life' and suicide isn't just our thing..we'd rather suffer in silence and top it with a smile!People do not want to die,not for anything whatsoever.And if we'll be rated on a scale of one to ten,we'll probably be in position two or three.I know my people well enough and I can assure you we are very rugged and have a positive attitude to life,no matter how bad the situation gets.....it's still "suffering and smiling" according to the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti's lyrics.
And so,need I say at this juncture that,if at any point in time,you have been misguided into thinking ' all Muslims are fanatics,fundamentalists and hence,terrorists-YOU ARE VERY MISTAKEN!
I will first and foremost ask if you know me well enough,and if so,then tell me if you ever for once think I'll take a human life,an innocent child's life,defenceless women's lives,young, valued and promising men's lives as well?If your answer is in the negative,then think of all the Muslims you've ever known,had the privilege of interacting with and ask yourself,if ever for once you felt threatened by them,if you ever felt insecure and unsafe in their presence,if you ever had any cause to stop interacting with them nor associating with them because you fear for your life?Need I say more?Draw your conclusions therein.
I speak for the true and God-fearing Muslims across the globe when I say that,"the God,Allah that we worship does not grant us the permission to kill innocent people,destroy people's homes,render babies fatherless,incure huge unwarranted expenses on the government by committing arson or tear families apart and leave them in anguish....No,no,no,no,no way!
The word "Islam" means "peace".And no matter what Osama bin Laden is known for,he does not represent the world population of Muslims.He may have followers but that does not mean "every single Muslim' you come across is out to get you.You do not need to live in fear or be afraid to associate with people of other faiths.....God bless Nigeria and God help us out of this mess...!
I rest my case!