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Then, they ordered everybody to undress, and showed readiness to shoot anyone that resisted.

The subdued passengers obeyed with great fear. The ordeal had drained all of them

of every strength, will and courage. Girls, boys, old men and old women

 

 

Where Then Shall We Run To?

By Ugochukwu Einkeonye

 

This is an example of a country that has fallen down; it has collapsed. This house has fallen. Prof Chinua Achebe (in This House Has Fallen)

In an essay, I published a couple of weeks ago in my Wednesday column in Daily Independent (www.independentng.com), a national newspaper published in Lagos, Nigeria, I reported the chilling experience of a hapless man returning from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, by a night bus, to the warmth and comfort of his family in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital. As the ill-fated bus tore through the thick murkiness of the nights and got to somewhere near Lokoja, Kogi State, at about 2.00 am, some men of darkness who had all the while pretended to be fellow passengers took control of the bus, robbed them of all their valuables. As they did this, everybody lay prostrate on the floor of the bus as instructed by them.

About six young girls were in the bus. The men violently pulled them up, forced them to undress and began to rape them. As they took turns on these hapless girls, and raped them with savagery and beastly relish, the girls cried in deep pain. From where he lay, the man said it was impossible to determine how many times each of them had each of the girls. And as some of the girls screamed in pain, they shut them up with murderous threats and blows. They spent longer time on this. In fact, the gang-raping continued amidst the muffled cries of searing pain and anguish from the girls until after five in the morning. All those hours, while this horror and brutish exercise lasted, the vehicle packed by the roadside, on the expressway, undisturbed by anyone! Other vehicles simply sped past.

Then, they ordered everybody to undress, and showed readiness to shoot anyone that resisted. The subdued passengers obeyed with great fear. The ordeal had drained all of them of every strength, will and courage. Girls, boys, old men and old women (which means: parents, children, wards, maids, older relations traveling with younger ones), all pulled off every article of clothing on them, and scampered into the bush as they were ordered, thinking their tormentors would shoot them from behind. Then, the armed men sped off with the vehicle, carrying their clothes, bags and everything with them.

You can then imagine the trauma, humiliation and deep pain of these passengers, about sixty of them, as the otherwise friendly, soothing early morning sun finally drove away the thin cover of receding darkness and advertised the stark reality of their shame before an embarrassed daylight. Try to visualize it: sixty naked human beings, of different ages, emerging from the bush, in broad daylight, to seek help, to reclaim what remains of their battered dignity and personhood. Don’t ask me if any of the women was menstruating! 

Welcome to Gen. Obasanjo’s Nigeria, the giant of Africa, where there is a determined effort by pretenders to the throne to force civilization to beat a quick retreat! 

Well, that incident took place a couple of weeks ago. And since then, dear reader, I have heard several other equally chilling accounts, from people who had undergone the same ordeal, in a country somebody claims to be ruling, and even scheming to tinker with the Constitution to allow him encumber the ground for some more years!

The latest report I got of another instance of this kind of  modern savagery left me totally shattered. About two weeks ago, a young, fair, beautiful and bright girl, a 22-year-old medical student from one of Nigeria’s universities, was shown into my office on a very brilliant afternoon. Now, in this particular case, this girl did not board a night bus. Her own ordeal took place in broad daylight!

She had joined a Coaster bus at about 9.00 am in Benin, the Edo State capital to go to Abuja. As the vehicle approached Okene, one young man stood up, approached the driver with a gun, and ordered him to surrender the steering to him. As the driver tried to explain that it was too dangerous to do so since he was on top speed, he simply shot him on the head, shoved him aside, and took over.

As he did so, the vehicle swerved dangerously this way and that way, causing the other passengers to scream in fear. Immediately, his colleagues, four of them, whipped out their guns, and ordered everyone to either keep quiet or be killed. One old man thought they had a conscience he could appeal to: “But we have all been traveling together as friends, why have you suddenly turned against us?” he cried.

That proved to be his last speech on earth. One of the men shot him, and he slumped, and lay still. As the new driver battled to gain control of the vehicle which was going wild on the road, a woman suddenly woke up from sleep, unaware that the vehicle now had a new driver, and that she was at the mercy of some gun-wielding young men. And so, she shouted: “Ha! Driver, you want to kill us? Why are you driving like this?”

That too, sounded like the dying refrain of her own dirge, in fact, her swan song. A cruel shot instantly made her children motherless, and her husband, a widower! And now a stern warning rang out from one of the new lords of the hapless bus: “If you dare open your mouth, and say anything again, then you are dead!” Everyone was gripped with benumbing fear as the journey progressed.

Then, they met a police checkpoint and some glimmer of hope rose in the quiet hearts of the hostages. But, in a flash, the driver simply put out his hand, and gave out some notes to the cops.

“Okay, Area, carry go!” the elated cop shouted.

The policeman did not even bother to look inside the vehicle, as they usually do, even after a driver had “performed.” The new driver was obviously familiar! This happened so fast, that it must have seemed like a dream to the conquered passengers. It then increased the crippling fear inside the vehicle. As they neared Abuja, after a couple of hours, they diverted to a bush path which eventually took them to a cleared ground. 

By now, the sun had begun to show signs of weariness. They had done every robbery while the vehicle was still cruising on the expressway.  According to the girl, another girl that sat beside her, was shot dead for trying to play smart with her money, and her blood splattered on her own body, as she fell heavily on her. In fact, when the shot rang out, so close and dreadful, the girl said she thought she was the one shot, until she opened her eyes, to see she was still on this side of existence.  She tried to push the lifeless girl, now leaning heavily on her, with her fresh, red blood running freely, but she was too heavy for her, and she was too benumbed by fear to push too hard. 

Another man who tried to make a phone call had his belly shattered by angry bullets, and his intestines spilled out!

The young men ordered everyone to disembark and undress, but the passengers hesitated. Initially, they had thought “remove your clothes!” did not also include pulling off their inner wears. But when one man was shot for delaying to remove his underpants, they all, young and old, including one fat, elderly woman, had to hurriedly strip themselves stark nude before the young men. They then lay prostrate, as commanded. The vehicle normally should carry only eighteen passengers, but, you know our way here: it was overloaded. They were about twenty-two or more.

The girl, a born-again Christian, who had sworn to preserve her virginity till she got  married had led in prayers as the journey commenced. She had also wanted to preach the gospel to her fellow passengers, but when she noticed that a man nearby also wanted to do so, she deferred to him. So the robbers took to calling her “sister” and the other man, “pastor”. Both of them, incidentally lay near each other, very close to the bush, as four of the men began to select the girls they wanted to take away, while only one kept guard. She was the second they touched, as she lay down, praying silently. But as they dragged her up, and ran their eyes over her nude body, the leader of the gang exclaimed: “Can’t you see, that that woman is pregnant, you want trouble?”

“It is true-o!” exclaimed the other. “My mother once told me that anyone who did anything with a pregnant woman will surely carry a curse. Eeehh, oya, lie back there!”

And with that, he left her and selected another girl. Then, the four went into the bush with “their” girls while one kept guard.

Indeed, this girl was not pregnant. In fact, she was even midway into a four days fasting programme! Her tummy was not in any way big, at least, I looked at her. But then, as we all know, God has a way of shielding His own in an ungoverned jungle like Obasanjo’s Nigeria!

Now pause awhile, and reason with me: why was it necessary for the four men to take the girls into the bush? Merely to rape them? I certainly don’t think so! Why would they have to go that far to do what they could have conveniently done there, considering the risk in leaving only one person to guard the other hostages? Are they too foolish to not have thought that someone might jump at the lone guard? Suicidal, but possible! So, they must have taken that risk because, what they wanted to do was not what they could possibly do before the other hostages without attracting a revolt, even if suicidal.

Let’s face it: those girls must have enacted their own death-walk, to yield their delicate parts for ritual purposes, if you ask me! Although, rape must have preceded that, any way!

And to lend credence to this view, when the girl called her mobile phone, taken by them, the next morning, and introduced herself as that “Sister”, the voice on the other side retorted in anger: “So, you escaped!? How did you escape, by the way!?”  See what I mean?  And even before they began selecting the girls, they were taunting them and saying the girl and the other man: “Ah, Pastor, pray-o-o!  pray-o-o!  Sister, pray-o-o! Today is judgment day!” Guess what that implied.

Now, because, the girl and the preacher lay near the bush, shielded a bit by the body of the bus, the man whispered to her that this was their only chance to escape, as those men could kill all of them, once they re-emerged. They slowly, and noiselessly, crawled into the bush, and made good their escape. They never believed their guard would not see and gun them down. Yes, they never believed it. They just tried it nonetheless, and it worked. And suddenly discovering themselves safe and free, even though,  stark nude (who cared again?), they ran very far into the bush. Soon, they began hearing gunshots from the place they just had escaped from. They ran farther inside the bush. And about an hour later, convinced the men must have left the place, they traced their way back, still with fear and trepidation, hoping, at least, to retrieve their clothes. But when they got there, they saw nobody or vehicle or anything. Only blood splatter everywhere! Indeed, it was doomsday as the young men had promised!

Then, wearily and fearfully, they commenced the painful, arduous task of tracing their way to the direction they believed would lead them to the road. Fortunately, they met Fulani herdsmen in the bush who ran back on sighting them. But with the aid signs, the man was able to make them realize they  needed clothes.

The herdsmen threw their turbans at them, and still kept their distance. It was now getting dark, and in their desperation to find their ways to the road, they missed each other. But luckily for the girl, when she got to the road, she met a lady who had just disembarked from a bus. After hearing her story, she gave her something to wear and some money to get to Abuja.

Indeed, this girl actually passed through  the valley of the shadow of death! In fact, she told me that she still found it difficult to take her meals, even days after the gory incident.

“I have seen a dead body before, but I never imagined I would one day witness people shot dead before my very eyes. I saw blood gushing out. It is so difficult to get over what happened.” she said.

As we thank God that the girl is alive today to tell her story, we should also spare some  thought for the many others, not so lucky? What about several other unreported incidents of this of this horrible nature?

Indeed, Nigeria’s rulers must be worried by the unbearably harsh conditions they have unleashed in the country which are now driving people into  gory extremities and savagery. Are we sure the boldness and fearlessness of these hoodlums are not fired by their sudden realization that Nigerians live in an ungoverned, poorly policed country? As this nation continues to be run aground by totally selfish, greedy and unpatriotic minds in Abuja under the headship of Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, who suck the nation dry and manufacture lists of “achievements” to impress the world, burnish their image, and service their ego, incidents like these might multiply with alarming rate and become everybody’s nightmare.

This gory exercise may be taking place every other day on the nation’s highways, largely unreported. From the girl’s description, those men are likely to be young, unemployed graduates whose inspiration and motivation may be solely derived from the vulgar ostentation and boundless profligacy advertised unceasingly by unrepentant mis-rulers who daily weary us sore with drab and exasperating calls for more sacrifices and tightening of belts, while they wallow in reckless, lavish spending.

Somebody should better walk across and warn them, their cheerleaders and collaborators, because, every indication now points to the fact that this dangerously trend is gradually drawing close… even to well-heeled and privileged quarters! It is no longer the exclusive menu of the poor and underprivileged.

Just the other day, some hoodlums, reportedly gained access to the “highly fortified” Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja, where the nation’s legislators idle away at our expense, while a dictator is being systematically bred next door, at Aso Rock Villa. Well, the bacchanal and wild reveling  will soon be called off, because, the environment will no longer be conducive for all that. Have we forgotten so soon that not too long ago, Hon Ofodile was neatly abducted by hoodlums from the same “highly fortified” Apo Legislative Quarters and driven out through their well-manned gates, and was later dumped somewhere along the Zuba—Kaduna Road or so. Does that send any signal to anybody, that it will reach a stage when Aso Rock Villa will no longer be immune?

Okay, I am told, wives and children of the rulers, the wealthy and the privileged class do not patronize public transport vehicles? They should better rouse themselves from this myth of “impregnable” security around us, and begin to fix this gradually dying nation. Now, after they have left government, where are they going to stay to enjoy their massive loot? In the moon?  How do they hope to secure themselves in a country that is fast producing an army of hungry and angry, depersoned desperadoes, who place value in nothing, not  even their lives?

Indeed, now that we have a sincere, transparent man, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, as Inspector-General of Police (IGP), should we let the opportunity to refurbish the Nigeria police and re-engineer them back to patriotic duty slip from us? What indeed can horribly paid, poorly clothed, and grossly impoverished policemen possibly achieve before this dare-devil criminals? 

If the current degeneration and impoverishment of the citizenry continue unchecked, while the highly provocative, unimaginable display of wealth by those whose only known source of income is their appointment to one government office or the other continue unabated, very soon, many first wives or ladies, and first daughters may equally have their own generous taste of the harrowing ordeal related earlier, even if they are transported in armoured vehicles and flown to and from their well-guarded, cozy homes with helicopters. It is only a matter of time.

With so much money coming in from oil alone, does it not amount to outright sadism that the current government has not done anything to add the slightest bit of value to the lives of the people since it imposed itself on Nigerians through a massively rigged election six years ago? Instead, they unceasingly descend on the people with clearly punitive policies like incessant increases in fuel price. Through these insensitive and soulless policies, they compel the pauperized people to subsidize their insufferable inefficiency and unabated corruption.

Indeed, it is not yet too late to reverse this current decay and commence the process of fixing this country before we degenerate into an anarchic situation. Nigerians in the Diaspora who feel indifferent to what is happening at home, should pause awhile and ponder what it would be like to be welcomed home one day with this kind of ordeal. 

What of friends of Nigeria who daily rebuke us for not recognizing the “great achievements” being churned out by Gen Olusegun Obasanjo in Nigeria. Well, I think they should better to put in a word for their friend, the implacable Emperor in Abuja. At least, he has already accumulated so much for himself, his countless children and wives. Time has come for him to devote some of the billions of dollars realized from the sale of oil to fix the country. It is not too much to ask.

In Nigeria, industries are closing down due to unceasing power failure, high cost of gas due to countless price increases (in an oil producing country). There is repeated retrenchment of hardworking junior employees in the civil service, while the top officials whose salaries can pay all the junior workers put together, are left to go on stealing with utmost impunity. Obasanjo has countless ministers and aid, but many of them are assigned overlapping function, just to keep them there. Some just idle way there answering Special Advisers of Special Assistants, going home with fat salaries and incredibly huge estacodes from countless, frivolous travels.

Graduates are roaming the streets with no jobs. Schools are decaying due to lack of basic infrastructure. Libraries and laboratories are virtually empty. Teachers have been driven out of the country into better managed (though poorly endowed) nations because of this government’s anti-intellectual stance. There are no good roads to transport goods and services. The poverty and hunger in the land today are simply killing.

In the midst of all these, government has practically declared a war on the long-suffering citizens of Nigeria. It is trying to create a model city in Abuja with the blood of its poor citizens. Which is more important: human or physical development? If you beautify  cities without developing the people, the cities will one day degenerate to the people’s level. Today, citizens who had secured approvals to build houses and shops before this government came in are wantonly rendered homeless by arrogant and soulless officials, and given no alternative places of abode. 

For instance, in the recent demolitions of buildings and business premises, which took place in Kubwa, Abuja,  some people lost their homes, places of business, and even their Church where they could go to worship and get succour. Now, many of them are hiding with all their frustrations, shame and pain, in uncompleted buildings which would also be demolished soon. Poorly paid, and living in very harsh business climate, where can they source the funds to at least move their families to their villages, where they may not even have built any house? They have become refuges and destitute in their own country. The difference is that, in their case, no one cares.

Indeed, these are the terrible situations that breed the horrible men that has now turned round to become the nation’s nightmare. Indeed, Prof Chinua Achebe is right: “This is an example of a country that has fallen down; it has collapsed. This house has fallen.” 

Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye, Columnist and Member, Editorial Board, Independent Newspapers, Lagos, Nigeria,  could be reached with: scruples2006@yahoo.com

posted 30 August 2005

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power

By Zbigniew Brzezinski

By 1991, following the disintegration first of the Soviet bloc and then of the Soviet Union itself, the United States was left standing tall as the only global super-power. Not only the 20th but even the 21st century seemed destined to be the American centuries. But that super-optimism did not last long. During the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, the stock market bubble and the costly foreign unilateralism of the younger Bush presidency, as well as the financial catastrophe of 2008 jolted America—and much of the West—into a sudden recognition of its systemic vulnerability to unregulated greed. Moreover, the East was demonstrating a surprising capacity for economic growth and technological innovation. That prompted new anxiety about the future, including even about America’s status as the leading world power. This book is a response to a challenge. It argues that without an America that is economically vital, socially appealing, responsibly powerful, and capable of sustaining an intelligent foreign engagement, the geopolitical prospects for the West could become increasingly grave. The ongoing changes in the distribution of global power and mounting global strife make it all the more essential that America does not retreat into an ignorant garrison-state mentality or wallow in cultural hedonism but rather becomes more strategically deliberate and historically enlightened in its global engagement with the new East.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 7 February 2012

 

 

 

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