The Value Of A Black Nigerian Life By El-Nathan John
This last week has been bloody in America for black people as well as American law enforcement. Several black men have been shot dead, some in the full glare of passersby who recorded the events on video. Understandably, people globally were outraged at the senseless loss of life. I have said before that America ha no value for black lives. In fact, I have suggested that if they do not want the black people they came to Africa to fetch in the first place, it is not too late to return them. We will just calculate how much work and contribution they have made to building American society and send their government an invoice accordingly. They don’t have to pay immediately, we can give them a few years to pay. Money is hard to come by now.
Nigerians on the internet also joined in this outrage, as they should have. They posted videos of the black men getting shot and used the appropriate hashtags. Look, it is important to get the right hashtag and I am proud that Nigerians did not disappoint black people worldwide.
All of these events have made me wonder what the value of a black life is in general and what the value of a Nigerian life is in particular. Let us start with the value of a non-Nigerian black life.
A black life abroad is precious. Especially if this black life is an American or British black life. There is something that crossing seas and oceans does to a black person. It insulates them from the indifference that is associated with black tragedy occurring in a black country. A black life capable of a British or American accent is worth a lot. Maybe not to white police officers. But to us Nigerians, it means a lot. I do not mean black lives who leave their black countries, go on one trip to attend a two-week conference and then come back saying wanna gonna. I mean black people with a non-black passport. Black people who were born in a non-black country. We are allowed to feel pity for them. We are allowed to demand human rights for them. We are allowed to say that it does not matter if they stole some items from a shop or sold illegal items. No one deserves to be shot by police extrajudicially. Not even when such a person has a prior conviction. The life of a foreign black person means a lot.
In calculating the value of a Nigerian life however, we must never apply the same rules. We cannot afford to. Black lives in Nigeria are far more resilient and we do not want to spoil people by showing them too much empathy. It is important especially if they are not from our ethnic group or religion. It is not your fault if a person goes and chooses to come from the wrong ethnic group.
You know Nigerians. The moment you give them an inch they want to take a kilometre. So it is important to reserve empathy for those who deserve it. For those who do not go around asking to be killed and provoking people with guns. Not people like Shiites who block roads and constitute themselves a nuisance in civilised society. I am not saying that we should take up arms and kill Shiites. We have the army to help us with that – with killing them and imprisoning them without charge for indefinite periods of time. I am saying that when the army gets angry and decides to surround them, shoot them one by one, destroy their buildings and bury them (some of them alive), we must not do silly things like feel sorry for them or protest the killing of women and children and non combatant men. We must never never create hashtags because really, they are the ones who decided to go and become Shiites. Yes, we all block roads too when we are doing weddings and naming ceremonies and crusades. But we are not Shiites. The value of a Shiite life is not the value of a black American shot by white police officers. A dead black American deserves human rights even if he had a prior conviction. A dead Shiite deserves to be asked questions, about why they block roads like the rest of us. Or practice religion the way they do.
The same rule applies to say, Biafra protesters. The value of a black life protesting for Biafra is not very much really. We must look the other way when the Nigerian army shoots them because we must let the army do their job. The army restores the balance of things. For example, when an empty street is occupied by Biafra protesters it is the job of the army to clear that street by any means necessary even if that means killing people who are carrying placards. They say a hug starts from a handshake. We must never feel empathy for a black life we do not like when that black life is extrajudicially killed by our beloved, hardworking army. Human rights are for humans. I am not yet sure that they are humans. They are yet to prove it to me. But Americans, kai, those ones are human. Their black lives matter. Our black lives matter when they belong to our religion or ethnic group.
Ok. I am rambling now. I apologise. Let me reduce these last two paragraphs to one formula that is easy to use in calculating the value of a Nigerian life especially if that Nigerian life is Shiite, gay, female, Biafran, or maybe just poor. The value of these types of black lives in Nigeria is a little less than the value of Jollof rice. Because we will never think twice about fighting for Nigerian #Jollof (especially against those damn Ghanaians but I will leave their matter for another day).
So this is what you must do. Forget about all the Shiites that are still in detention nearly six months after the great Zaria army massacre of December 2015. Forget about the Amnesty International report about women and children buried alive. Use that time instead to show solidarity with America. Post the video of American police executions. Use the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. Because you care. You really care.