When the famous English poet, T. S. Elliot, wrote his “Murder in the Cathedral”, a verse drama that was first performed in 1935, he did not envisage that his submission would have grim relevance to Nigeria. In his portrayal of the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, the inimitable Elliot at the end of the play lamented through the chorus: “Clean the air! Clean the sky!” because “The land is foul, the water is foul, our beasts and ourselves defiled with blood”.
There is no doubt that the air and the sky of Nigeria require cleansing and two grisly and sense-numbing event in the week illustrate it. We are moving from bad to worse and foul odour of madness fill the air we breathe and the water we drink. Pray, “our beasts and ourselves defiled with blood” and the beasts are not limited to blood-guzzling Boko Haram but also “ourselves”, our criminal children.
Or how else does one explain the gruesome murder of the late Mr. Charles Ajayi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, by no one else but his son? It is blood-chilling and sense-numbing that his 21-year old son, Tolani Ajayi, a student of Redeemer’s University, a Christian institution established to correct the oft-touted “rot” in the Nigerian public university system, committed the “murder in the Cathedral”. This is so because he perpetrated the heinous act at their residence at Canaanland Street at the Redeemed Christian Church of God’s Redemption Camp.
According to media reports, “Tolani was said to have slaughtered his father with a knife and later butchered him with a cutlass…. Tolani afterwards allegedly packed his father’s remains in a box and dragged them into the bush within the camp.” It was a killing so cold and cruel; he hacked his father to death. Though the boy said he tried drugs, it was not clear whether he was under its influence or not when he did the abominable act on July 3, 2014.
The day after Tolani committed his dastardly act along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, for which he said he expects an inevitable judgement, elsewhere another tragedy of similar hue occurred in Nigeria. On July 4, 2014, at Ugwuoba Local Government Area of Enugu State, Mr. Christopher Onu as a good parent called his son to his room and “advised him to desist from smoking weeds believed to be Indian hemp in order to avoid ruining his life.”
According to media reports too, “angered by his father’s wise counsel, Ikenna who was suspected to be under the influence of hard drug allegedly picked up and axe and cut his father’s head open.” The man slumped and bled to death. His corpse had since been deposited at a General Hospital mortuary for autopsy.
There are many things wrong with Nigeria but the dimension of patricide or killing one’s father is the unkindest cut. It is unbelievable! Having said that, one thread that runs through the two gory reports is the use of drug by the two young men and it is high time more attention is beamed at it. Drug abuse and drug dependency are often glorified in movies and the tendency is for the impressionistic young minds to want to feel “high” through friends and imbibe the dangerous habit.
I often find reasons to quote the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin and Secretary General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede, because of his forthrightness on issues. In an interview he granted “The Nation” newspaper on March 3, 2013, tellingly captioned “Drugs, not religion, is Nigeria’s problem”, he had actually dissected the fundamental wrong with our country the consequence of which has manifested in insecurity and the odd news that recently jolted us in the two cited cases.
“To me, if you ask me, we are only treating the symptom. We are not treating the real issue. I believe the real problem with us in this country, whatever might have been the reason, is drugs. Most of our youths across the country are acting under the influence of drugs and it is a problem we have to face though we are shying away from calling a spade a spade. When somebody is addicted to drugs, that is when he can become an armed robber, or any evil doer, ” he said while advocating orientation and rehabilitation for the victims.
Our land is foul with evil from the North to the South. Our water is foul with atrocities from the East to the West. The incidents of the past week should serve as a wake-up call that we have got it wrong and the urgent need we have is to prioritise raising responsible children, who will not be vulnerable to the antics of the evil doers in the society. It is high time we sat up and appreciate that our worldly successes would amount to nothing if we fail in the crucial responsibility of training our children when they are young, before they become the proverbial Iroko that can no longer be controlled later.
What sort of a boy would dare raise a finger when his father beat him? Certainly, our land is foul and our water is foul. Let us cleanse the land and cleanse the sky to forestall future recurrence by waging war against drugs. Let parents also create time for their children when they are young so that they will not grow to humiliate or eliminate them. It is sad.
May God save our families from the Tolanis and Ikennas of this world.
BRAZIL AS THE BUTT OF JOKES
Football can be wicked. How are the mighty falling! The merciless massacre of Brazil by Germany by 7-1 in their spectacular and jaw-dropping encounter this Tuesday reminds one of the world we live in. If you fall, the world tramples on you further and adds insult to your injury. But if you win or rise, people raise you shoulder-high, higher.
Since the walloping of Brazil, before the very eyes of their tearful fans, several jokes have been hauled at them. I have read of the “Breaking News” of how FIFA had said what we saw was a rehearsal and the real match would soon be played. I have read of how Brazil was spelt with the six remaining scores and all sorts of things. Nigerians have even thanked God sincerely that we were lucky to have been spared that humiliation in count-your-blessings fashion!
It only makes one wonder if we really think some foreign powers are going to help us out of the ditch we are in. If you are down, the world kicks you further. I commiserate with Brazil on the sudden loss of their beloved football pride. It is a pity.