I don’t know where you come from, but where I come from, people die – the rich, the poor; the sick, the healthy; the tall, the short; the young, the old; the crazy, the wise; those who live at home and those who live abroad.
The other day, a man in my hometown began confessing his sins. He admitted that he killed over 17 people using poison delivered via voodoo. He named the people he killed over a long period of time. He demonstrated how he killed each one of them. He also stated what they did to him to deserve death.
People clinched to the scandalous story behind each death. The tales of this man appeared to absolve everyone of any responsibility in the death of those people. Even those who died seemed to have been cleared of any sense of personal responsibility in the way they lived their lives. To compound matters, those who died in of car accidents, this man owned up to killing them.
It made me wonder if nobody ever dies of natural cause in my hometown. If this man killed 17 people and the other woman down the road, who turned into a witch of some sort, killed 15, what is left for High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Typhoid Fever, Cancer and AIDS?
I love believers of all faith. They are wonderful people. When things happen, it is because God wanted them to happen. When nothing happens, it is equally because God did not want anything to happen.
But there are things that believers waste no time in rejecting with a loud proclamation, “God forbid! God forbid bad thing!” But what if God refuses to forbid? God has the right to refuse, doesn’t He? What if God fails to forbid?
It has been said that 911 was simply “a failure of imagination.” If America had thought it possible that someone could hijack a plane and use the plane as a weapon of mass destruction, they would have taken steps to prevent it from happening. But Americans didn’t, even though that scenario was a plot in a novel published before September 11, 2001. Now as part of America’s security preparations, thriller writers are invited to help security operatives think up all possible scenarios a potential terrorist could employ.
There is a reason why fire drills are performed. Fire drill prepares everyone for actions to take in the case of fire. It is a set of contingencies to be taken should the unpleasant happen. It recognizes that in this world, things happen.
The other day, I watched a Nigerian man in America leaving his house. He reminded his 7-year –old daughter to remember to call 911 in case of an emergency. His mother-in-law who was babysitting told the little girl to ignore his father. “There won’t be an emergency,” she declared. “It won’t happen in this house.”
Chances are that if you live long enough, you will encounter a situation that will require that you call for help.
But that is not the thinking in most corners of Nigeria. Out of a sense of hopelessness, I think, people deny even the reality staring them in the face. Or maybe it is out of a culture that has refused to apply the imagination.
As a young boy, I watched a house in my village burn. Villagers gathered around the burning fire totally helpless. From a well, they drew water with a bucket and poured on the house. Others scooped sand from the ground to heap on the burning house. It was an ineffective effort as the fire raged on. When the house was reduced to rubble, bodies of two children were pulled out of the ashes. Over twenty years after that horrific incident, nothing has changed. More children have since died in such fires while parents were busy asking God to forbid bad thing.
The fatalism in “God forbid’ essentially makes us to sit on our imagination. It leaves our flanks exposed when things happen. Serious people who perform fire drills do so because they hope for the best yet prepare for the worst. And the worst does happen. It happens not just to others. It will eventually happen to us, too.
Throwing up our hands in the air and saying it is the way that God wants it is not an act of a people who want to survive.
Whatever it is, if you fail to think about it, you are ultimately thinking about failing it.
Here are some bad things that could possibly happen if God fails to forbid.
1.) What if Boko Haram attacks Lagos? We have all heard of that possibility. But have we done anything to prepare? If we have a situation where tens of thousands of people suddenly are injured in a big city like Lagos, do we have hospital beds where they can receive treatment? Do we have medical staff and facilities to handle such an emergency? Do we have morgues that can take up to one thousand dead bodies?
2.) What if Boko Haram attacks Aso Rock? Obviously, the president’s security personnel must have thought of that one. How will the nation react? Are there systems in place in Nigeria that can pull the nation from the brink in such a situation? Can Nigeria’s democracy survive under such an assault? Will Nigeria follow the post Indira Ghandi’s India or post Juvenal Habyarimana’s Rwanda?
3.) What if Niger Bridge collapses tomorrow during rush hour? How do we handle the calamity? What equipment is there to fish out vehicles from the river? How will drivers get into the East as the federal government finishes procurement work that has delayed the project for ages?
4.) Natural disasters happen to other people until they happen to us. What if the land shakes and buildings fall? Do we have the crane to lift concretes off screaming victims? Or are we going to expose Nigeria as a glorified Haiti?
5.) With thrash all over Nigeria’s cities, poor hygiene everywhere, what happens if an infectious disease hits a major city in Nigeria? Can we handle an emergency where thousands of people are sick at the same time?
Oh, I forgot. Those things do not happen to people like us. The blood of Jesus, Allah and Olumba Olumba cover us while the people that suffer such fate are not covered.
My guess is that each time we say God forbid, we mean to say God forbid that we should ever use our brains.
Please correct me if I’m right.