By Odimegwu Onwumere
Gov. Adams Oshiomhole had apologised for telling a roadside trader-widow, “Woman, go and die”, in Edo State. The woman was squatting on the ground, pleading that her confiscated goods be released. Gov. Oshiomhole, had perhaps apologised, having seen that most Nigerians are like a disappointment of not sleeping with one’s fantasy on an issue like this.
However, I’m looking at the comment from the linguistic background. An example is in Igbo. When a pitiable person did wrong, much used comment is, “Ga nwuora onwe gi.” Meaning, “Go and die by your hand.” This literarily means, “I’m not the one that will kill you.” But someone who picks words from the marginal view, instead of from the idiomatic angle, would read a different meaning to it. I think this is what happened to the governor.
Some people might say that such comment is unconnected with touts and not, high profile-man like Oshiomhole. Others might see any contrary view order than ‘bring the governor to the stake’, as offensive defense. Many would direct that anybody, aligning him or herself to the governor, should go and watch the U-Tube, where the action between the woman and the governor was posted.
Whichever, I’m of the belief that there are words or comments that are ‘synonymous’ with a particular tribe. I’m not sure which Hausa person can resist ‘Kai!’ in certain provocations, no matter the position. Remember that OBJ was using “nko”, even while officially addressing the public. He might have been later rebuffed for using such words, but that does not stop the idea that most of his tribe’s people use ‘nko’.
How emblematic and reasonable some persons might have thought that the governor’s comment was not; besides, if the governor was a Justice, can the woman use “I’m a widow” to evade justice in the court of law? If we say yes, then an armed robber may approach the laws the same way.
A brother reminded me that going by the explanation above, “Ga nwuora onwe gi”, was even taken in Igbo from the point of limitation, but the governor used the comment from the position as one saddled with the responsibilities of Edo State and that, there was nothing wrong with the comment. Assuming that the woman was apprehended by security personnel and she was pleading to the governor to rescue her, but the governor proved deaf ears, many would have also said that the man was wicked; and will not remember that everybody is said, is equal before the law.
This brother said that those mouthing Oshiomhole are those responsible for the woes of this country. For me, there is no person who is above the law. But to the adherents of the two imported religions from the Middle-east to Nigeria by Europeans, sentiments should surmount the laws of the country. For hearing that she is a widow, they believed that no penalty should be meted out to her.
But come to think of it, if the governor had handed the woman over to the police, owing to the fact that this is how a sane society works, the same people would have still taken the governor to the cleaners that he was stonehearted to have taken such an action, upon that the woman had pleaded. And if she was charged to court of law and was found guilty, they would see the governor to have committed the unbelievably sacrilege against humanity. All these drawbacks happen in a country like ours, where religion can be said, plays upper role than the constitution of the country.
What many people do not understand is that if it were in a court of law that the woman was found guilty say, to die by hanging, the Justice would have used a seemingly appalling comment like, “Woman, you will die by hanging.” And, this might not make any meaning to the religionists of this world. I was reminded to understand that what Oshiomhole used was what is referred to in linguistics as language practice, which varies according to peoples. I was also reminded to know that what less-weight would it have had if the governor had used, “Go f-k yourself”, or “Go with your trouble”, or ‘do your worst’.
It is certain that if it were in Europe, the woman would have been weathering in court. Not even “I’m a widow” would have saved her. Some folks would say that the governor’s comment was a crass and that the court would have been better off. I’m not sure what the reaction of people would have been if the governor had told the woman, “Woman, get out”, “woman, stop begging me.” Oh! These religionists would say that Oshiomhole’s deed can never be justified. But the woman who was selling wares on the road against the policies of the government can be justified? This is where these alien religions in Nigeria have dragged most of our people’s mentality to.
The religions in the country do not make some people to see things beyond their already programmed minds or, as a friend would put it, Zapped minds. I read something in Sat. Sun, Nov. 30, 2013, pg 10. It affirmed my belief that awakened minds knew that it was obvious that those with spiritual truths, not religion, respond to the same cosmic affirmation. But when I deliberated the comment with somebody, who said he’s a man of God, he labelled me an atheist.
What I read in that newspaper reads: All these middle-eastern religions in Nigeria are fake and delusional. All the purveyors of these religions are self-seeking crooks, who have no knowledge…, whatsoever. Their entire miracle claims are nothing but clever falsehoods and directed to their one single end – duping, cheating, acquisition of wealth and power. All these dupes should be arrested and jailed for life and their ill-gotten goods confiscated. This is Nigeria where anything goes. Nigerians should be pitied. Middle-eastern religions have lost their justification in Europe from where they were shipped to Nigeria but simple, gullible, credulous, non-thinking folks are running after them.
In-spite-of-this, people are much sold to the tales by religionists, especially by the Christians. This sect believes that anyone who dared question certain indoctrinations that people have swallowed hook, lead and sinker, that person is an anti-Christ or whatever they have in mind. They feign stories in politics against opponents like, “He beat a cleric.” Immediately this goes spiral in the media, the damage against the political opponent has been done. Or, they use, “Oh! He does not attend church”, and you see them disassociating themselves from the person. Hogwash! These people are of the philosophy that it is only clerics that are men of God, or they are the only people with the anointing and power to perform miracles.
Nevertheless, I’ve seen pregnant lunatics put to bed without any help, no pastor. I’ve seen deformed persons got healed after many years of suffering without the aid of anyone. I’ve also seen pastors who prayed against death for people, but were later killed by robbers or accident.
It is predominant in Nigeria where you tell those who have drank from the brook of the Middle-east religions that an atheist isn’t a person without God, but one without the Christian God, Muslim God, or Jewish God and, they see you with the same eye they are seeing Oshiomhole today: An ungodly fellow.
But my position has always been that if a traditionalist believes in his God, can he be equated with the crass matrix, “Only a fool says there is no God”? It’s even a biggest fool that generalises his God as the best. Moreover, the bible isn’t the word of God, but partly contains the voices of Jehovah or Yahweh and Jesus. It’s a distorted history book. The bible also isn’t holy; because Jehovah, Yahweh nor Jesus neither knew about nor wrote it.
The translation of bible from Aramaic was like when the early reformists described democracy as the government of the poor, but English translators transcribed it to mean the government of the people. Miracles aren’t meant for clerics alone.
That was exactly what people have done to Gov. Oshiomhole – misinterpretation. The same misinterpretation goes for many who think that Chi-ukwu (Igbo supreme God) is the same as Jehovah/Yahweh. But I advise that they should avoid such correlation, because Ndigbo had been using the word Chi-ukwu before the importation of Jehovah/Yahweh.
Chi-ukwu is Igbo, not Christianity. Truth be told, the sold concept that we are one in these names may not be truth, because in Malaysia on Monday October 14, 2013, according to media reports, court has stopped Christians in that country to stop using “Allah” to refer to their God. This was sequel to a 2009 ruling by a lower court that allowed the Malay Language newspaper – The Herald – to use the word “Allah.”
But three Muslim judges overturned that ruling and ban Christians in that country from using “Allah” to refer to their God. “The Malaysian government appealed the earlier decision, saying that “Allah” should be used exclusively by Muslims. The appeals court ruled Monday that “Allah” is not an integral part of the Christian faith and such usage would cause confusion,” confirmed VOA. (And you hear the religionists of this world watering it down our throats, saying there is one God, such that Christians in ala-Igbo are using Chi-ukwu to cause confusion as one with their God).
Because the dramatis with Gov. Oshiomhole said that she is a widow and the governor was protecting the policies of his government, many have said that he did not know God. This is just the confusion in Nigeria! Nigeria is a country where majority talk about God – Jehovah and Allah – yet there are many ungodly practices that are wont among the callers of the two names.
In this country, sending the guilty to prison is most times challenged by religionists. They ascribe it to that the persons Human Rights of freedom of movement is violated, but when they read from their ‘holy books’ where their God sent people packing and killed many peoples, you see them shout, ‘Amen’. For those who sent Gov. Oshiomhole to ‘prison’ before arraigning him before a court of law, should know that he operates governance, which is founded on a structure: constitution.
It is the constitution that makes human beings not to behave equivalent with animals in the bush, even though that it is crystal clear that man was on earth before laws are made. The sentiment that the woman pleaded much to a ‘deafened’ governor, hence the woman was allowed to go, is a clear direction that the laws of the country have been feeble and allows for much freedom. And much freedom many had said, should be given to the woman; and it was given to her. But such breeds incivilities in a given enclave.
Nigerians must see beyond the periscope of sentiment and understand that the laws of a given state or country supersedes widowhood, widower-hood and other hoods. Though, not all given laws are just, but any given law in a democracy seemingly, supersedes any human rights that fail to abide by the laws. Nature made it that if not the woman in question to become a widow, other person would have. So, it is not right for a widow to use her ordeal to go contrary to the rights of other people. I think, for us as Nigerians to move forward, we must eschew complicated hybrid emotions and sentiments.
Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.