With all modesty, I’ll start this article with the words of Jesus Christ in Luke 13:34 which says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
Deducing from this expression of grief however, it is axiomatic that from time immemorial, humans are renowned for disparaging, vilifying, ostracizing and more often than not killing sages whose exceptionalities and ingenuities professed nonconformity to antediluvian beliefs and/or certain prevailing ideas of that era.
However, these presumed “misanthropists” had turned heroes to successive generations who in their honour and reverence erected monuments as well as, authored inspirational books to encourage innovation and excellence among young people.
Paradoxically, those statements and actions of theirs (considered sacrilege then) which led to their grisly annihilation now provide model which we had painstakingly dovetailed in book form with uniformity of style and proper balance between chapters for preservation.
In other words, aversion to change and/or subservience to convention have become the albatross that circumscribed us from recognizing and celebrating men of exceptional gifts when they were alive and dwelled among us.
Not long after the dastardly act had been committed, then the dictum, “HAD WE KNOW,” will saturate the airwaves.
My heart bleeds each time I remembered the man referred to as the “father of the Nation”, a man who led the Indian independence movement against British rule and inspired movement for civil rights and freedom across the world employing nonviolent civil disobedience.
Despite his goodwill and self-sacrifice for the birth of India, at exactly 5:17pm on 30, January 1948, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi born on 2 October 1869 was murdered by Nathuram Godse who fired three bullets from a Beratta 9 mm pistol into his chest at point-blank range.
Gandhi’s assassin was a Hindu nationalist, a member of the political party. Simply put, he was a member of Gandhi’s consanguinity. After committing the dastardly act, the unabashed Godse tried to justify his crime by accusing Gandhi of complacence towards Muslims. He also blamed him for the sufferings of Partition, and generally criticized subjectivism and pretension to a monopoly of the truth.
According to Mallot (2012), Godse blamed Gandhi for the continuing to appease Muslims in a manner “that my blood boiled and I could tolerate him no longer.” Despicable! Isn’t It?
Oh! My soul is comprehensively inconsolable, as I remembered Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr. January 15, 1929). King was murdered by James Earl Ray on 4 April, 1968 in Memphis Tennessee when he was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C to be called the Poor People’s Campaign.
King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as first president. With the SCLC, King led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against Segregation in Albany, Georgia and helped organize the 1963 nonviolent protests in Birmingham. Alabama. We cannot forget his 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered the famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Ironically, a man who was hated and murdered because of his activism in civil right movement/combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Also Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous USA states beginning in 1971 and as a USA federal holiday in 1986. Hundreds of streets have been rechristened in his honour and a county in Washington State was also rechristened for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mail in Washington, D.C, was dedicated in 2011.
But remember, all these afterthought honours never brought him back to life. Regret upon regrets. Majority of us would have wished King was with us. What a loss!
Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara; a Burkinabe military captain; Marxist revolutionary; pan-Africanist and President of Burkina Faso 1983-87, he was viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution. Known as Africa’s Che Guevara, his revolutionary programs for African self-reliance made him an icon to many of Africa’s poor. He remained popular with most of his country’s impoverished citizens but his policies alienated and antagonized the vested interests of an array of groups, which included the small but powerful Burkinabe middle-class, the tribal leaders whom he stripped of the long-held traditional right to forced labour and tribute payments.
He was overthrown and assassinated in a coup d’etat led by Blaise Compaore on 15 October 1987. A week before his assassination, he declared: “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.”
Just as the India-nation, USA and Burkina Faso were blessed with sages, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Thomas Sankara; a tiny State in South-east Nigeria (Abia State) has been blessed with a rare gem, our own Senator Theodore Orji.
Popularly referred to as Ochendo (shelter), Sen. Orji gave birth to what is today known as “The Modern Abia”, just as Gandhi did to the India-nation. In a nonviolent revolution in 2010, Ochendo ensured the liberation of Abia State from Occultism, Idolatry and god-fatherism and established egalitarianism and equity which ensured the financial and political freedom of Abia citizens irrespective of class.
He abolished wheel-barrow; head pan, and shovel empowerment of Abia youths and replaced it with cars/buses. The health sector was revolutionized to ensure a healthy society. Education sector was not left out as the foundation put down by Ochendo while Governor ensured Abia State maintained first position in WAEC since 2016.
Just like Martin Luther King Jr., Ochendo became the most visible voice that spoke for Abia State and its youths against tyranny ensuring her citizens discard the attitude of flunkeyism and nihilism prevalent among youths then. This led to their consciousness and subsequent rise to the challenges of democracy and elitism.
Like Thomas Sankara, Ochendo policies elevated the youths and made him popular among majority of Abia’s impoverished citizens but these policies alienated and antagonized the vested interests of an array of bourgeoisies precipitating the campaign of calumny against him on social media.
Ochendo has taken some steps further using his office as the distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to affect positively the lives of other Nigerians with the sponsoring of 12 life changing bills; youths’ empowerment; road construction; electrification of communities; scholarships and water projects. Obviously, with these achievements, Ochendo has dropped a footprint too large for his cynics; the very reason they are sponsoring propaganda and hate speeches against him on social media.
God will never allow the plans of his enemies come to fruition, because the presence of Ochendo means light and life to majority of indigent Abia citizens. Before we cry “had we know”, I want to refresh our memories with the heartbreaking speech of India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru shortly after Gandhi was confirmed dead.
“Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives, and there is darkness everywhere, and I do not quite know what to tell you or how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that; nevertheless, we will not see him again, as we have seen him for these many years, we will not run to him for advice or seek solace from him, and that is a terrible blow, not only for me, but for millions and millions in this country.”
God forbid that we will ever have any reason to say these regrettable words because, the benefits of having Ochendo around for many years surely worth more than mere politicking. Let’s not be like the Jews who are still waiting for the coming of the Messiah they ignorantly killed like a common criminal several years ago.
Obinna Don Norman is the Media Adviser to Senator Theodore Orji
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