The world was silent when we died but they belted out the song of their fatherland as bullets sprayed over them like acid rain. The Nigerian national anthem is full of a pride we have never really felt and promises as empty as deserts. Yet, they screamed the words into the night, invoking whoever or whatever to protect them. The labour of our heroes past easily washed away by the bravery of our heroes today. Instead of peace and unity, we are offered bullets, death and dischord. A week has passed since they killed us.
The sun has risen seven times since, but their eyes were shut forever so they will never see the sun again. I pray they are bathing in eternal light, the kind that can never die.
“The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.”
Caged Bird by Maya Angelou
And that is exactly what they turned our brothers and sisters to that night. Caged birds who were singing for freedom before this evil place snatched the light in their eyes and the voices from their throats. This is what Nigeria will do its best and bravest. Slaughter them for their audacity to dream of a better life.
I will never have enough words for Tuesday 20th October 2020. I will never have enough words because the words to describe such evil have not yet been conceived by the English Language. No really. What do we say to those who opened fire on kneeling protesters waving their countries flag? What do we say to those who saw mouths open singing our national anthem and instead decide to feed such mouths with bullets? What do we say to those who tried to convince us we made it all up after 150,000 of us traumatised ourselves watching our comrades bleed out in real time? I am sure those who invented Instagram live never ever thought it could be used for such purposes. To broadcast the massacre of a people by the government sworn to protect them. I often think of DJ Switch and how her singular act of revolutionary storytelling saved us all from the insanity of gaslighting. We saw it happen but they swore we were cooking up stories in our minds.
There are no words for this kind of evil.
Believe me when I tell you there are no words for this kind of evil.
Everything I have tried to write has felt desperately insufficient. What will my words do for those who were slain? What can we say to send their blood back into their bodies? What do we offer them for their immense sacrifice?
The best we can do is to engrave their names in our memories. To remember them. To remember that they wanted a better life so much that even in the face of death, they stood. Such bravery. We watched our heroes die. We do not know that they wanted to become heroes. Maybe they just wanted to be alive. Maybe they just wanted to wake up in a country that was not trying to kill them, in every single way. Maybe they just wanted to see the sun rise again.
We will never forget. We owe them our memory and remembrance. We owe them our voices and our fight. We owe them the dignity of eternity.
Rest in Peace. Rest in Power. Rest in Light.