My father and I were speaking on the phone on Saturday morning when I told him I was going to Alausa to join the #EndSARS protests. He went quiet for a moment, and I knew what was coming: his disapproval.
“Do you have to go?” he said. “There are people there already. You just stay at home and do your work. Let the people protesting protest.”
His sentiment is one shared by so many parents of Nigerians youths. And, when you consider they spent a chunk of their lives under military rule, able to find succour and hope only in religion, birthing the pentecostal fundamentalism and Islamic near-extremism that rules Nigeria today, you begin to understand the fear and why Nigeria is the way it is today.. A very important observation made by Twitter user @teslimalabi_:
How did our parents go from rocking Afros & dressing eccentrically in the 60s and 70s to telling us Afros & dreads are thuggish & criminal thereby justifying police profiling?
Nigeria traumatized & scared these people and they didn’t fight back, but we will #SARSMUSTEND
— Saint Mari (@teslimalabi_) October 12, 2020
My father is afraid for me, like so many other social media users have shown that their parents are afraid for them, too. And they are right to fear: just this Monday afternoon, while President Muhammadu Buhari gave a speech on police reform, the police were opening fire on peaceful protesters in Surulere, killing at least one person. How many died in Ogbomoso? How many were assaulted in Abuja?
But what these parents do not understand is that the fearlessness and gumption we are showing today is necessary so that we will not be on the phone, thirty years from now, dissuading our children from protesting, too, afraid for their lives. That it is necessary, so that we might have a better Nigeria, and become the leaders they long ago told us we’d become in the future.
We are in little ways luckier than they were: our government is not a military one, so they are not quick to submit to impunity. The police, not fearsome and battle-trained soldiers, are the ones on our roads. We have social media, hence the democratisation of information. So we must ride on this luck, refuse to let it go to waste. We must use this little luck of ours, fight for the betterment of, if not our own lives, then the lives coming after us.
See all the ways our generation is defying those that came before us:
— Oreoluwa (@Kunbii_) October 12, 2020
my dad just said he prays all the protesters are arrested today and I told him they’ve left the toll gate so he can head towards there now , let him get stuck in traffic , rubbish . #SARSMUSTEND
— ♡ (@xenloner) October 12, 2020
I swear my mum just called me telling me not to go out to protest… I laughed in Chinese and told her I’m at lekki toll gate already 😂😂 my sisters in the background dey hail me #SARSMUSTEND #SarsMustGo #Lekki
— MICHEAL (@SADDOR) October 12, 2020
My mum told my kids not to go to school tomorrow and not to let me out of the house,she told them I want to leave them motherless.
Dear mama, I understand your fears ,but if we don’t end this ,they will end us all someday…
Tomorrow we lend our voice and chant #SARSMUSTEND pic.twitter.com/X7PMFM7ypj
— chinels kitchen #iteenugustate (@Stansbaby) October 12, 2020
— Rodiya❤ (@raadeeyah) October 12, 2020
Highlight of this morning was my dad and neighbor shouting that I should not go and protest. My mum said “she’s stubborn. She will go” #SARSMUSTEND
— Zayyyy (@zainy_dammy) October 12, 2020
My mum woke me up before 7am today to tell me tht she was scared for me and I should stop all of ths End SARS activism. That it’s dangerous.
I told her tht SARS is more dangerous. She either joins me or gets out of my way because #SARSMUSTEND and my brother showed her the door🤝
— Brenda Faiyaz (@ThaBigAppple) October 12, 2020
Photo Credit: @NoraAwolowo