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Being Dead in Abuja

Can the dead feel shame?

There are many ways to die. Some are–shall I say–less graceful than others. Like when a bomb blast struck a Catholic Church in Abuja on Christmas Day. 16 dead. Or is it 17? A really nasty way to die. You lose your life but then you lose coordination. You find yourself striking the strangest of poses. Some complain about having two left feet. Imagine having no feet at all and having your left thigh lie next to your right arm, detached, like a discarded toy. What a way to make the acquaintance of the 800 million active users of Facebook! What a spectacle!

It’s, perhaps, startling to be alive one minute and be a lifeless body the next.  But then to become a thing of curiosity, photographed and put up on Facebook walls. And then to be introduced not by your name but by warnings. They say it’s the civilized thing to do…this warning from one sensible living person to another sensitive living person. Awful pictures from Abuja bombingGraphic picturesDisturbing photosViewer’s discretion advised. That’s got to be embarrassing…for the dead, I mean. And it’s got to be tough too, being dead…I mean…in a place like Nigeria. To have people at home and 6000 miles away gawking at your severed limbs, your awkward posture, your dusty hair.  And let them not say that by circulating these horrid pictures they are bearing witness against the violence by which you were slain. Is your inconsolable loss not witness enough? Why must they drag along your remains in underserved disgrace?

—-For the Xmas Dead

Read the CNN coverage of the “Christmas Carnage” here.

Photo: Yoko Akiba

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

3 Responses to “Being Dead in Abuja” Subscribe

  1. ajebutter 2011/12/26 at 09:18 #

    I’m just short of words, but may their souls rest in peace..

  2. Boye 2012/01/03 at 00:42 #

    And others will stand to gawk at their bodies, some will weep inconsolably as they recognize parts of bodies they once touched, once rubbed against, once held. Others will shake their heads mutter one or two words, some in prayer, some aphorisms, many malapropisms. Inside them all yet another tiny sliver of that thing buried deep in us all, that honorable human that Melville’s Ishmael describes so poignantly, will flake off, tarnished irreversibly. Further coarsened, they will walk away, less alive and less sensitive than they were before. Crushed under the weight that their lives have no value. They would not look to their elected leaders, ineffectual, incapable, incompetent, marauders and pillagers of the treasury that they are for any succor. They would walk away with a prayer, not for those disembodied, disemboweled corpses whose blood mixed with the clay of Abuja soil, in reversal of their creation legend. They would pray that they would not end up like that, yet afraid of an even worse fate.

  3. Ainehi Edoro 2012/01/04 at 20:44 #

    Thanks Boye for your insightful words. Thanks for pointing out that we tend to disavow these misfortunes by being thankful that it did not happen to us, making it difficult us for us to truly mourn or acknowledge these losses as loss.

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