I wept again and again, as videos of the shootings surfaced. I watched clips of gunshots, bullets, and true heroes fallen from screen recorded videos of DJ switch’s Instagram Live. As the sounds of the shootings rang in my ears, I could not help seeing flashes of the previous day’s events. The blood-stained flag was like a scene from a gory horror film. All through the week, I could not create any post for my social media platforms and I was not mentally stable for work too. I still cannot explain that feeling.
Today I am finally able to write about my experience drawing from a biblical character, Rizpah, whose experience is similar to what Nigerian youths suffered during the #EndSARS protests. I did not know much about Rizpah until today. Perhaps, I had come across her story in the past and found no importance, significance.
Rizpah, like Nigerian youths, was a helpless pawn in the story of David’s emergence as King of Israel. She was the concubine of the former king and enemy of King David, Saul. Trouble began when King David learned from God that the three-year famine in his kingdom was as a result of late King Saul’s deeds to the Gibeonites. Saul had killed them, defiling a covenant they had with Joshua when the Israelites first came to Canaan. After a dialogue, the Gibeonites demanded for seven people from Saul’s family for atonement. Davis delivered Rizpah’s two sons and five grandsons of King Saul to the Gibeonites. All seven of them were killed and their bodies left at the mercy of the wild animals.
Of course, there was nothing Rizpah could do to stop the barbaric act. She could not save them. In her grief, she stayed with the corpses for several months. Day and night she kept vigil, chasing away wild birds and beasts that wanted to eat the bodies. No one can comprehend Rizpah grief, living amongst the dead bodies of all her loved ones. Finally, David heard reports of her actions and felt guilty. He gathered the bones of Saul, his son Jonathan, Rizpah's sons and the grandsons and buried them in Saul’s family burial chamber.
Today, Rizpah’s silent vigil resonates with the cry for justice by the youths and the countless families who watched as their children were sacrificed and their deaths denied by those who committed the acts. Rizpah’s action can be understood as one that results in a small token of restorative justice. It shows how the power of silence can serve as a countercultural protest in our efforts to rebuild our great nation. It shows that the #EndSARS protests did not end with the Lekki Massacre and the youths can still emerge winners.
What next? How do we improve the situation of Nigeria today?
1. We need to support the families of the deceased.
We are a nation that forgets. It is sad that, less than a week after the massacre, our thoughts have shifted to memes and emojis about travelling abroad. As someone recently said to me, “I give you six months, everyone will forget the people that died at the toll gate”.
We forget that Rizpah’s presence on the mountain meant a lot in preserving the bodies of the dead! It was her dedicated vigilance that brought justice to the dead. Reaching out of the families of the deceased is one of the ways we can help ease their pains.
2. We need to work hard in silence.
Now that the protests are over, some of us are grieved by the realities we are faced with and our resolve to leave the country has been strengthened by our ‘wonderful’ president’s speech following the tragedy.
Many of us have also realized that we can only prepare for 2023 to make a change. We have called on the international societies for help, created and signed petitions. We should start developing new strategies which include creating political awareness and political parties because we cannot beat our political leaders.
So let us take pauses and deep breaths as we start the hard work, following the mantra “work hard in silence, let your success make noise”.
3. We need to heal.
As much as Rizpah got justice, there was no record of her getting healed (or how she died despite numerous queries on Google). The important issue, however, is that we may eventually win the war against police brutality, bad governance, and political hooliganism without getting closure from the episodes of the past few days. The shootings, blood-soaked flags, bullets, lifeless bodies and images of the uniformed perpetrators may not leave our memories so soon. But we must make efforts to heal.
If you you’re among those wondering “what do we do now”, I urge you to ask God for joy! I am sure it will grant you that feeling of peace and reassurance of a better Nigeria. It is time for peace, love, and work, cheers to a greater Nigeria, not time to give up and forget.
Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.
About the author: Aderinsola Jolaosho is a content marketer with experience in online and offline branding and public relations. Aderinsola holds an MSc in Media and Communication from the Pan-Atlantic University and a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Lagos. She has worked in the real estate, hospitality and franchise development sectors and is passionate about helping businesses thrive.