The other day a family friend of mine mistakenly struck down a commercial motorcycle rider (Okada in common parlance) and the young man died. Now the family friend in question stopped his car and came down to help, however this did not seem to matter as a crowd of angry people had gathered and proceeded to beat the living daylights out of the driver despite the fact that he kept pleading that it was an accident. He was being dragged to the bush to be burnt alive by the mob and was saved by the timely intervention of the Nigerian police (ironic, seeing as the Nigerian police typically isn’t helpful to the citizenry but I guess since this happened in Abuja it makes sense). The driver was near death and was saved from the swiftness that is jungle justice.
Now the common approach to analysis of such a situation is to somewhat berate the perpetrators for the barbarity of their actions and to analyze the justice system in place that allows such occasions of jungle justice to happen without any consequences for the perpetrators. My friend’s situation reminded me of the Aluu 4, the 4 young university students that were lynched and killed by the mob hungry for blood. It made me think that perhaps the typical Nigerian is walking around with a lot of repressed anger because why and where does the crowd that throws a tyre around a thief and lights them on fire come from? Why are such a huge mass of people so pissed as to abandon common decency? Could a malfunctioning justice system be solely to blame? Well I have a theory.
The average Nigerian is angry very angry and often times does not realize it. He/She can explode into a fit of rage and go from 0 to 100mph in a second at the slightest provocation. I recently had a flight delayed by 6 hours on Arik (A domestic airline) and noted to myself that at a certain point in my frustrating wait I had to restrain myself from making the daydream of walking up to an arik staff and delivering a beat down or simply using a machine gun to shoot down all their staff (Yes I might need to see a therapist for having such violent thoughts that brought a smile to my face) a reality from happening. We are nation of Incredible Hulks walking around and not knowing the capacity for destruction we hold.
So what could we all be angry about? To understand what we could be angry about one has to realize that we live in a system that doesn’t work and when it does work it seems to be by some form of luck, God or deus ex machina. The typical Nigerian is angry about their bad roads, the poverty, the fact that they have to pay bribes to police on the daily, the fact that they wake up without power and have to source for water to take a bath before braving city traffic to get to a job that pays shit and get home late to do the same thing the following day. Of course this description doesn’t cover the gamut but it gives a sample of what is bothering these people. Perhaps armed robbers visited their neighborhood the other day and upon seeing this young boy that stole an orange they remember the people that stole their beloved dvd player and go into a fit of rage egging the mob to burn the young boy alive.
Nigerians must be angry about their government and the fact that there is economic and income inequality because there is nothing more pleasant to the common man in Nigeria than having a rich or wealthy person at their mercy. When the wealthy bro with his Mercedes jeep breaks down in the middle of the night in a poor neighborhood best believe some people will try to take advantage of his situation. It is that Nigerian anger management failing again.
Of course to an extent Nigerians have managed to keep the anger repressed by paying attention to such tropes as the story of a man who died for the sins of the world and who is waiting at the right hand of his father for those who are good so that they can receive the reward for the suffering they suffered on earth by virtue of being Nigerians in Heaven. Frankly I think, being Nigerian should be enough penance to get you into heaven but what do I know. Nigerians keep it repressed with hope and with a belief that in such a random system they might be fortunate to one day do a favor for a man or woman who eventually becomes a minister and gives them a lot of juicy contracts so they can afford that house in V/Island and drive that Range Rover Evoque.
When they said we were the happiest people on earth a decade ago they were mistaken, they must mean we are the most repressed people on earth. Nigeria and Nigerians are like a ticking time bomb. The plethora of problems we are ignoring so as to face our individual problems hoping that someone else will solve the collective problem only help to keep us spiritually angry and ready to explode into jungle justice, ethnic or religious violence or even just the plain old fist fight or slap of the coworker.
Anyway my dear readers if you still exist, Are Nigerian an angry people? If yes why are we angry? What are the causes of jungle justice? What makes you angry as a person? What are your thoughts when a thief is getting burnt by an angry mob? Leave your comments after the beep…