ln the face of evil, to sit silent is an even greater evil. Complacency is ever the enabler of darkest deeds ‘―Robert Fanney .
I read a story of remarkable courage on the BBC website the other day. It was the story of
Keisha Thomas, a black teenage girl, who saved the life of a white man from a mob that was trying to lynch him on the assumption that he was a KKK member. For those of you who do not know, the Ku Klux
Klan members are white folks who believe that all blacks are inferior to them and have been responsible for the torture and
murder of many blacks. For Keisha, a black girl, to have saved this man, who most people think deserved whatever he got, is
truly an act of courage and forgiveness. As I thought about Keisha Thomas, I wondered why no one made any effort to save those unfortunate four undergraduates
we now refer to as ‘Aluu4′. It’s been over a year since their barbaric death. I remember how shocked we were (and still are) by
their gruesome death, but perhaps what shocked us even more was the indifference of the crowd that looked on while they suffered.
I haven’t watched the video and do not intend to, but from all the stories I have read, the crowd that watched the gruesome killing were far more in number than the
actual persons who committed the act. I don’t think everyone in that crowd liked what they saw. I believe some of them flinched when they heard the frantic
pleadings and groans of pain from those poor young men. I believe some of them would have loved to end the horrible drama playing out in front of them. After all some
of them had children as old as those four boys, or brothers or friends. Yet they did nothing.
Why were they so helpless? Why did mothers, fathers and other young people just look on? Well, based on some of the eyewitness accounts I have read, the ‘good’
people in the crowd were made helpless by fear. They feared they would be seen as accomplices if they dared to help, and thus
suffer the same fate. Secondly they feared they were not strong enough to challenge the men carrying out the torture. And guess what friends? The fear of
consequences and inadequacy, which paralyzed the Aluu crowd, is in all of us. It is because of these fears that many of us find it difficult to confront bad situations no matter how sad and angry we may feel about them. But can I just say that nothing great has ever been accomplished without fear? It
was Nelson Mandela who said' "courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over.it. The brave man is not he who does not feel
afraid, but he who conquers that fear. ”
I have no doubt he was speaking from experience. He knew too well the consequences that came with confronting the Apartheid government of South Africa, he also knew how limited he was in
confronting injustice, after all he was not a parliamentarian or a lawyer. But somehow he found strength to confront injustice
despite his well-founded fears. Today South Africans are so much better for it because the likes of Nelson Mandela refused to let
their fears hold them back.
Another fear which often cripples people is the fear of doing good deeds alone. It is encouraging when people support us and
appreciate us for sacrificing our time, resources and even life for a good cause. But oftentimes that is not the case. The very people we expect to understand are usually
the ones who discourage us and belittle us and our dreams. All great heroes and heroines in our history books experienced that. But what made them famous is their refusal to let others hold them back. The fear of waiting is the last fear we will look at. Most people hate waiting, especially
Nigerians. One of the reasons why we go late to occasions is because we don’t like to wait. I know because I am guilty! But I have come to realise that nothing good ever comes easy or fast. Most victories we know of did not happen overnight. The Civil Rights campaign led by Martin Luther King
Jnr did not happen in a day neither did the end of Apartheid occur in a year. As Nigerians we have dreams for our country. It is sad that fifty three years after
independence and with all the great resources we have, we are still behind many countries. Talking about our.problems will not solve it; the newspapers
have been doing that for ages. Neither will prayers alone. So why are we not doing enough? Why do we say things like “it
won’t work? It has never been done
before?” Why do we give up so easily?
I believe it is because we let our fears hold
us back. For a religious nation like ours,
isn’t it ironic that many of us fail to depend
on God to help us confront bad situations?
Or do we only call upon God and
demonstrate faith in Him when it comes to
The Bible and Holy Quran are full of stories
of ordinary men and women who did
extraordinary things for their communities
because they trusted in God. These people
replaced their fears with faith in God. I
think of the story of David who was an
ordinary shepherd who had to face Goliath
the giant. He was just a youth who was not
even a soldier, whereas Goliath had been
fighting for ages. No one believed in him,
not even his brothers. What about his
weapon of choice? It was just an ordinary
sling or catapult whereas his opponent had
a spear that was longer than David! Despite his inadequacies, and other fears, David
defeated Goliath because he trusted in God.
Perhaps you are thinking this is irrelevant
to Nigeria or Africa. This next example
shows that with courage and persistence,
we can do what has never been done before.
In Botswana, four sisters aged between 68 years to 80 years, finally won the rights to inherit their deceased father’s property
after a five-year long court battle. In a conservative and patriarchal society where women rights are unknown, according to the BBC correspondent, these sisters did
something that “no-one thought was possible – they took on tradition and won.”
What made these women hold on regardless of the fears they faced? One of them, Ms Mmusi said it was “resilience and courage.” That, my dear friends is what is needed to
confront and succeed in any battle whether it is personal or for a greater good. You will face all manner of fears, but if you will
only hold on with resilience and courage and a trust in God, you will triumph over your fears and see your dreams achieved.
Some months ago I read about the tragic accident that occurred on Lagos-Benin expressway involving a fuel tanker and a
mass transit bus. Over fifty people were burnt to death: men, women and children. Like everyone I was saddened but I decided
it was time to do something about the.frequency of such accidents. But I was afraid. I didn’t feel adequate or qualified to
do the job. Here I was, a stay-at home mum, living in a foreign country and not related to any politician. I certainly didn’t
feel ‘important’ enough. What could I possibly do? How effective would my so-called online campaign be? Even my family
members discouraged me telling me not to waste my time, that no body would listen. But because I trusted God, I persisted, even
when my emails to many influential people were never acknowledged. I persisted even
when the DG of the Federal road Safety Corps didn’t reply. I was tempted to give up when people would say “didn’t we tell
you?” Finally the DG of the FRSC has started replying my emails and seems keen to listen
to suggestions. In due time, our roads will become safer.
I do not write this story to boast. Far fromit! But to encourage all of us that we can make a difference no matter how ordinary
and powerless we are. You don’t have to be old enough, rich enough, smart enough or
‘connected’ enough. Don’t let your fears hold you back from doing the right thing. If you are really determined and persistent
enough, with the help of God, you can achieve extraordinary feats.
I believe each of us was born into this generation and country for a reason. Our purpose in life should not only be to make money and live comfortable lives. We should aim to be agents of change and leave our footprints in the sands of time.To do that , each of us will have to make a choice: will you rather be like the fearful Aluu crowd or will you be like Keisha
Thomas, the Botswana sisters and others who refused to let their fears hold them back?‘Courage is being scared to death… and
saddling up anyway .’ – John Wayne .
Theresa Omoronyia is a trained business
analyst and has degrees in Management
Science and Computer Science. She lives in
Glasgow, UK with her husband and son.
Theresa enjoys being with people and her
passion is to help those who are hurting.
Please visit her blog for inspiration and
motivation at http://
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