Someone sent me a message last week: “You’re going to talk about the Aluu thing this week, right?”
And I thought, *gulp* I am?
After going back and forth trying to decide whether to write about it or not, I realised what I was stuck on was the same thing I thought was missing from the Aluu killings, a question of individual responsibility.
If you go out in Lagos, you run into a similar problem regularly. Last week, I saw two area boys beat up a conductor. And the week before that, it was a motorcycle rider and his passenger, they fought along the road until they bumped into a policeman. The policeman ignored them, taking two steps forward to escape the melee. I watched from across the road and glared at the policeman to try to make him feel guilty and act but it didn’t work.
I know these are much smaller events, but they involve people taking matters into their own hands while the law and the public look on.
After incidences like this, the local radio call-in shows often open up their lines and ask people to text or phone in with opinions and suggestions on how prevent this in the future. And Nigeria being the religious nation that it is, half of the callers say something like, “We, as a nation, must turn to God. There is no other way. No other way, I tell you.”
There is a scene in the Bible where God stands on a ledge overlooking the city of Sodom and tells Abraham that He is going to destroy it. Abraham is aghast, he pleads with God. “Will you really wipe out the innocent with the guilty? What if there are fifty good men in the city?”
God listens to him and agrees not to destroy Sodom if there are fifty good men living there. Abraham persists, and he bargains God down from fifty, to forty, to thirty, to twenty. Eventually Abraham says, “God, how about ten, will you spare the city if it has ten good men?”
And God says he will.
I am curious about the people side of that story, about the good men.
I imagine that question is asked about Aluu and everywhere else in Nigeria: what is the minimum number of good people needed to be in a place to avert a tragedy? How many people have to speak up during an incident to prevent injustice?
Maybe ten? But if we can’t get ten, what about five? Or three?
In the end, that is my hope. Not that justice is carried out after things have gone wrong, but that I can grow into the type of person who could say, if I was there I would have been one of the people who did something to prevent this.