It has surprised me recently just how passionate about social justice I am. I’m not sure if it’s COVID-19, Black Lives Matter or #EndSARS in Nigeria but my heart burns with a real desire for peace, justice and equality worldwide.
It started in June 2020. A video of George Floyd, a black man, being murdered by white policemen in America going viral.
And then Breonna Taylor, a black woman, being killed in her own home.
Then closer to home in the UK, Belly Mujinga: an African woman with respiratory issues who died after a man with coronavirus intentionally spat and coughed in her face.
Then on and on. More and more heart breaking stories of black people being harmed, disadvantaged and killed.
And now in October 2020, in Nigeria, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police officers are attacking, raping and even shooting young Nigerians.
There is enough information about each of these events online – and you’ll have to be living under a rock or intentionally covering your eyes and ears, to have missed it. This post is me figuring out my relationship with social justice, activism and faith.
I never would have called myself an activist per se, but I have always strongly desired peace, stability and equality. I suppose because I avoid confrontation most of the time I just didn’t understand how I could be an activist. But the truth is I care. I care enough to take a stand and therefore I am an activist.
You’ll know from when I started providing free career advice and CV help for black people I am a fixer. I like to come to the table with solutions. So I really struggled when I was seeing videos of young people in Nigeria being killed by the very people who were supposed to be protecting them. I struggled because I saw people who looked like me being killed by other people who looked like me, only older and male.
It is very easy to close my laptop or keep swiping because I’m living comfortably and safely in the UK but at the end of the day, I AM NIGERIAN. Nigerian blood runs through my veins. That could have been me bleeding to death by the side of the road.
I am sorry for the graphic image there with my words but I want to make sure the severity of the situation in Nigeria isn’t lost in my typed words. Many young Nigerians believe their options are either to leave Nigeria by moving abroad or to wait in Nigeria to die. If SARS don’t kill them poverty or lack of opportunities will.
That is not life and it shouldn’t be like this.
SARS isn’t the only issue. Corruption, instability politically, infrastructure, health, education. And if you look back, colonialism and the ‘West’ are the roots of most of Nigeria’s issues.
So, this is a lot. And I feel small and insignificant – how the heck am I supposed to solve all Her problems and give Nigerians the Nigeria they deserve? Nigerians are some of the (if not, the) most resilient, resourceful, intelligent people on this entire planet – they deserve a New Nigeria. Or at least a better one.
Again, I ask myself: “Paula, why do you care so much? You live in the UK, you don’t live there. You’ve never even lived there.”
I care because even if I am not there, Nigeria is always going to be home.
And that’s not to say the UK isn’t home too, it is. I have two homes. In fact, the Christian in me wants to chirp up here and say, actually, neither are my home. My home is with Jesus, in heaven one day – but until then, we move!
I am reminded of the story of Nehemiah. He worked for the king in a foreign land. Bible scholars think he probably had never lived ‘back home’ in Jerusalem. But when news broken that his people and the temple they worshiped at had been attacked, he mourned and grieved and wanted to do something about it.
He said: “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” [Nehemiah 1:4 NIV]
I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the thought that there is so much wrong with the world. That some have no concept of the value of life and continue to live as so. I am overwhelmed with the realisation that I don’t have the money or influence to significantly correct all the wrong doings.
But, there is hope – turn to your neighbour and say: “NEIGHBOUR!!! There is hope!”
I fight for justice because God calls for me (and all followers of Him) to do so.
It is as simple as that. I shout and pray and protest and donate to causes and vote in elections and sign petitions because HE CALLS ME to speak up on behalf of those who can’t, provide for those with needs and guide those who are lost back to Him.
Isaiah 58: 6-12 (NIV) says:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
And because I am a super practical person, here are some ways YOU can help with the police brutality problem in Nigeria:
Nigeria – #EndSARS #SARSMustGo #EndSWAT
- Donate via the Feminist Coalition who are on the ground during the protests, giving out food and water, paying for people’s hospital bills and bail when they are being arrested – https://feministcoalition2020.com/
- Pray – my friend and Nigerian Christian artist Limoblaze is organising prayer walks across Nigeria! – https://www.instagram.com/limoblaze_/ Pray diligently.
- Email or write to your local Nigerian Embassy. I have emailed the Nigerian Embassy in London using this email template to this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Embassies all around the world can add pressure on the Nigerian government.
- Raise awareness by sharing posts on Twitter and Instagram. This is history in the making and does not just involve Nigerians. The whole world needs to know #EndSARS #SARSMustEnd #EndPoliceBrutality
Wow 2020 has been a rollercoaster and it’s not even the end of they year yet!