The idea of this article came to me on the back of comments generated from another piece on my blogsite.
Nowadays, you can barely turn a newspaper page or scroll halfway down your facebook newsfeed before coming across at least one story of some form of killing. Death, although universally accepted as a certainty that all must face at one point or the other – has become so common and so unshocking that people rarely flinch at any news regarding a shooting or a beheading or any of the gruesome incidents you randomly find on social media and hear about on the news.
As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon for people to react in a way that lays blame on the dead victim as if anyone deserves to be killed – or indeed as if anyone has any right to take the life of another – regardless of the justification.
Following the unfortunate killing of Olamide Fashina RIP in Thamesmead a few weeks ago, I with many of us were deeply moved and touched by the news for various reasons – including the fact that he was so young, he was one of us (Nigerian) and also because of the closeness of the incident – almost on my doorstep.
But the reaction of others was just as shocking in intensity. Many dismissed Olamide as a drug peddlar, street boy, gangster etc whose death didnt deserve the publicity it generated. Others with personal issues with the mum, came just short of saying “she deserved it”
Have our people become so desensitized to death that the first reaction to someone being brutally killed is “they deserved it”?? Is killing or taking another person’s life a justifiable act – regardless of the circumstance? Are we saying that being stabbed or shot to death is now a proper form of punishment?? Really??
The same can be said of vigilante gangs that beat to the ground, a healthy, alive, breathing and talking man/woman; beat, flog, kick and punch them close to death before SETTING THEM ON FIRE while still alive – just because they’ve been caught stealing?! Just what kind of human being can do that with ease and glee to another human being without compunction?
Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea that I am soft on crime and criminals, I am in no way excusing bad behaviour. Certain crimes committed by some “victims” are truly heinous and do deserve appropriate punishment but by the proper authoities. However, in my opinion, most of these punishers hold in them more evil and greater capability for evil than the people they are punishing.
I was once a child – so also were my younger sister, brother, uncles and cousins – even friends – and we all got into fights and scrapes with each other. But we NEVER took knives or guns to our fights! What happened to having a good old wrestling match in the dust and beating the bells out of one another before returning home to probably more beating by mum for fiighting in the street – to be followed by the boiling water and hot towel and Robb treatment?! Why oh why do disagreements and arguments have to end or be settled with stabbings and gun shots?
Somebody looks at you the wrong way, you stab them. Somebody dates the girl that dumped you last year, you shoot them. A young woman is suspected of stealing a Nokia 3310 mobile phone and rather than hand them over to the local police, you publicly strip them naked and roast them alive like BBQ goat. Someone calls you a fool and you go home, pick up your father’s gun and return and shoot 20 people in your school – just to prove that you are no fool!!
And the American police is no better than street gangs and bullies in my own personal opinion. This morning, I blogged about a 12 year old boy that was shot to death by policemen for playing with a toy gun in an American playground. Unbelievably, some people are blaming the dead boy for playing with a (toy) gun. You might want to comment and justifiably so that a 12 year old shouldn’t be playing with a gun (toygun) but to come close to saying he got what he deserved is just to much for me. American policemen are supposedly highly trained to be able to shoot to disable an armed suspect giving them enough leeway to apprehend and take the perpetrator into custody – ALIVE.
But what we have today is constant news of polcemen shoting at people running away from them, moving towards them, looking scarilly at them or even shouting at them. If someone is brandishing a knife or a gun, as a trained officer, Im sure that shooting at the leg or the shoulder will disarm anyone instantly. But when you can look at a 12 year old child and fire shots at their head – then you are no different to what you imagined that child to be – only difference is that you actually killed.
And for every adult mother, father and indeed anyone who feels the police acted justifiably in shooting a little boy to death or that Olamide Fashina got what he deserved for being a drug peddlar – remember that death is not a punishment. It is a termination of life. An ending of a life that could have gone on for several decades and positively affected the lives of many – even a whole genaration. but once its gone, it can never be re-instated.
Ahow about those left behind? A grieving mother who has had her baby snatched off her breasts never to be returned ever again? Siblings who will have to painfully work hard to get used to the permanent absence of their brother? Or classmates who will have to deal with the trauma of experiencing death at such young ages??
So next time we are faced with the news of someone being killed, burnt alive or stabbed to death, let us find some humanity in us and weigh our reactions and comments before passing judgement on the dead.
Jummy Ariyo (BaronessJ 2014)
Posted following the stabbing of Olamide Fashina at Thamesmead, London