It is only human to acknowledge, first, the unfortunateness of those whose lives suffered untimely dispatch a year ago in Nigeria. These were indeed unfortunate deaths, and the burden of life in a cannibalistic society as Nigeria, I think, imposes a most daunting responsibility of remembering the dead on the rest of us. But I now suspect that we are yet to grasp the profundity of this responsibility which, like a jangling knell, bellows into our collective minds a reminder, to reflect a little more deeply, on the ascendancy of fanfarization in the modes of memorialization.
Adebayo Raphael speaking at a public function.
It is noble, no doubt, to remember the dead. But I also think it is ignoble to remember the dead inadequately or excessively. The question here is this: How do you remember the dead? Further, shall we commemorate all deceased humanity in the same way, or shall we remember some differently? The answer should be clear to discerning minds: there is simply no prestige in death for those who die by the brutal cudgels of tyranny and inhumanity. It is they who have lost the battle of conscience, and except the living remembers and exacts justice on their behalf, they would have died for nothing. Those who live and depart this life free of these horrendous cudgels assume a more sober place among the dead, and it is they to whom we may concede the luxury of fanfare. Even so, the self-immolation of Bouazizi or Mayrock affirms a particular moral high-ground in honour of irrepressible convictions, one which may be memorialized only by acts of historical eternization for the hearts and minds of the living and the unborn.
However, there is a kind of death that reeks of inhuman dispatch, which compels consciences to question the ethical core of some human beings. It is no honourable death; it is the death of unwilling martyrs, of enforced martyrdom, of martyrdom by twisted circumstance. Those who suffer this kind of death—like those who died during supplications to conscienceless tyranny in October 2020—should not be further diminished in death by the trumperies of fanfare. These victims of inhuman dispatch—many of them young and unnamed—continue to sleeplessly roam the surfaces of the water and soil of Southern Nigeria. It seems, therefore, that we dance on the fringes of dishonour when we fail to remember appropriately these victims who remain a blain on our collective consciences, yearning for a particular type of justice, one which will never be achieved by the organized processions of parodic hearses.
This is no ethical censure; it is merely an attempt to remind us of the daunting responsibility of memorialization. We have just not done enough; perhaps we have done nothing at all, and I fear we never will for as long as the chaos for justice is tempered in deference to the tyranny of a cannibalistic society and the continued pleasure of sadistic human species.