Lately there have been terrible news reports from Nigeria. My husband gets private updates, so he knows what is happening from old colleagues and friends, he doesn’t have to depend on the media.
Yesterday we were doing driving practice and he said, not for the first time, “I love my country”. Like almost all who flee their homeland, yes, he loves his country. Those of us are ex-pats for whatever reason can love both our country of birth and our new home. I still love New Zealand, but Australia is my home. I did not have to flee for my life, so for me it is different.
I quote a BBC article:
The situation was, he said, “even worse than the civil war that we fought”.
“During the civil war, we knew and we could even predict where the enemy was coming from… But the challenge we have today is more complicated,” Mr Jonathan said.
“Somebody said that the situation is [so] bad that even if one’s son is a member, one will not even know. That means that if the person will plant a bomb behind your house, you won’t know.”
Mr Jonathan is the President of Nigeria.
My husband never planned to leave his country: he wanted to drive improvements, he was following in his father’s political footsteps. That wasn’t possible. He still has friends and colleagues and relations back home. He misses them terribly. He worries for them, as do many, many people who flee troubled lands worry about those they left behind.
My husband’s father was a Christian, his mother a Muslim. His father strongly held the belief that religion did not matter, it was the goodness of a person’s heart that mattered. My husband holds the same belief. He was raised a Christian and converted during his travels. He vehemently disagrees with the extremist interpretations of the Qu’ran, for my husband believes “Allah says we must not judge anyone, leave judgement and forgiveness or punishment to him to decide” and “Do not kill what you cannot create”. He believes good education is the way to improving conditions in Nigeria.
I quote Mr O:
When I was growing up, it was not like this. My father was a Christian who married a Muslim. I was a raised a Christian and married a Muslim. I went to church, sometimes my then wife came with me. There was none of this fighting. These people are angry they are not in control, but they are not the majority of the population.
For years we were told Nigeria was going to improve, yet it just gets worse. It is so sad, such a waste. So many educated people without jobs, so much fighting.
What I am hearing now is that politicians are using the religious conflict to cover up political conflict. Also the fuel strike currently on is providing further cover to attack political opponents.
I know his heart aches as his homeland crumbles before his eyes. He watches in sorrow. He knows Nigeria could be a great country, a world-class economy. I feel his pain.
News reports petrified me before my family came home. Now my family are safe, but the situation continues to worsen.
There is hope. I read an article yesterday and looked on this as hope for the future:
However, where there is the greatest danger, there is greatest hope. Nigerians have never been so united in years – last week, in the unofficially renamed Liberation Square in Kano, Christians guarded the space as their Muslim co-protestors prayed. In return, last Sunday, Muslims guarded Churches as others prayed inside.
Who are Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists? (BBC News)
Nigeria strikes over soaring fuel costs (BBC News)
The Fuel Subsidy Removal Protests for Dummies (NaijaBlog)
News reports terrified me (teamoyeniyi.com)
Note: This article has been in draft form for several days and was written jointly. Mr O has wanted to publish it, yet he holds concerns about speaking out, for what should be obvious reasons given his history. Equally he feels he cannot stay silent on the situation. Consequently this is a little late to press.