“I can’t share the award with the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha,
who was a “murderer and thief of no redeeming quality”.
I can’t think of nothing more grotesque and derisive
of the lifetime struggle of several of this (Honours) List
and their selfless services to humanity, as the `The Canonization of Terror’.
I reject my share of this national insult”.
-Prof. Wole Soyinka
What can I say? Other than that I’m greatly pleased that Prof. chose a time such as this to air his opinion in diction that is clear and precise.
The Canonization of Terror it was indeed.
One of my starkest memories to this day is watching my mum worry and stock up food during the Abacha regime.
Nigerian women became food hoarders (Not the likes of Mrs. Abacha though). Of mainly rice of course because rice was the staple back then in Lagos. This was bad news for us kids at the time because rations reduced and we couldn’t waste as much as we were used to. I remember the constant fear and the number of childhood friends I lost to ‘The Abroad’ as a result of frenzied emigration.
Abacha was a terrorist, plain and simple. And his terror was so far-reaching that it got past the gates of Queens College and touched us there, naive girls that we were then. Day students would often bring newspaper cut-outs with pictures of the latest assassination, abduction or torture of alleged coup-plotters that the General(the ultimate coup plotter) had in his custody and we would read and mull over them. Silently. Which in itself was a feat.
Queens College Yaba could have been called many things but never Silent. Someone was always expressing awe, joy, fear, homesickness, heartbreak or heartmake, Valentine’s day drama and all of that in a not-so-silent way.
I can still see the girls lose all semblance of ‘ladylikeness’ when we heard that Abacha was dead. There was dancing, laughing, Day girls were more eager to share their lunch than normal. It was also intense, there was a lot of tears, especially for the Diyas whose father had been in the General’s custody (a newspaper had run a picture of him roasting slowly over an open fire and I’ll never forget that)
So you see, it touched us all, The Canonization.
And it touched me and lit a flame within me when I saw Mrs. Abacha collect that diabolic Centenary award. Mr H tells me that on the day Nigeria clocked 100, there was no fuel at the pumps and the queues were as long as the sins of the dead General. I wasn’t surprised, only startled at the fires raging within me.
One would think that decades of disappointment would have transformed me into a blissful hearth of cold ashes.
I fear to think what would have happened if Snow White’s Apple had not resurfaced that day in 1998.
And what became of the two Indian girls who were said to have witnessed the death. Now would be a great time to write that book, ladies. 17 and 19, they were barely older than me
Perhaps Death has truly lost its sting and now offers a soothing balm as well- in the form of plaques.