May 12th, 2022 – Chinonso Marymartin Okoabu | Creative Nonfiction
Nothing shook the country greatly like the death of Deborah Samuel, a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto. It was not that she had succumbed to the cold hands of death as all mortals would someday, it was the gruesome way in which she had died and the inhumane way her killers had bragged about it. These people had not even a minute of regret. They had promised to kill another if they commit the same crime.
It was alleged that Deborah Samuel blasphemed against the Holy Prophet Mohammed and this had aggravated the already angry Muslim group. I want the believe the tense air in the country contributed to the cruel murder of Deborah. These bloody thirsty youths could have been affected in many ways by the recent happenings that had plagued the country, and the alleged blasphemy of Deborah was the trigger that unleashed their venom. I do not want to believe that it is written somewhere in the Quran that ending someone’s life is right.
The day Deborah had died, I had woken up hopeful, as usual- unperturbed by the scary happenings in the country. Don’t get me wrong. It is not that I don’t care that dollars have risen over 600 nairas or that people are being killed every day by kidnappers and ritualists. No, these things concern me, but I do not let them take over my emotions and disrupt my day.
On the morning of 12th May 2022, I had gone about my daily routine the same way you had, enjoying the little calm- not until the news of her death had spread like wildfire the evening of that day. I had taken to the internet and found the face of a beautiful girl covering almost every news blog. I read the news and that had set my heart on a one-million beats per second. My eyes immediately filled with tears as every word was the venom that killed her.
I could imagine the sudden turn of events for Deborah that morning. This was a girl who had left her home for school the same way she does. It was nothing short of routine- only for her to be confronted suddenly by angry Muslim youths. I could see confusion dance in her eyes as they came for her, holding clubs and stones like she was the new Messiah destined to die to save us a second time. Deborah would have tried to save herself, yes even her coursemates had tried to save her, but nothing could be done to stop those killers. They had taken her, dragging and stoning her with hatred following each strike.
With each strike, Deborah would have harboured hope somewhere in her heart.
These were her classmates who wanted her dead. Maybe they would come back to their senses.
I could imagine the pain when she noticed it was not ending. Instead, with each racing second, the strike intensified and her breathing ceased. Nothing would match the pain of knowing it was the same people she had seen every day, who probably she had shared a snack with. It would be how they had killed her, the anger and hatred striking more, the quick way they were able to forget she was their coursemate, the revenge they sought instead of forgiveness for a crime only they believed she had committed.
That would have ended her quickly, drawing her breath faster than the stones cast at her.
Did those Muslim youths alone kill Deborah? No. Nigeria also did. The failed justice system, the unconcerned leaders we have at every level of governance, I could go on- these were all part of what killed Deborah. These were part of what also killed David Imoh, the sound Engineer in Lekki, Lagos that night of May 12th, 2022.
News of David’s death was not as wild spread as Deborah’s death was, probably because it happened after hers. But, it had taken place that same day and in the same manner Deborah had died. They had both been killed and burnt for a crime that was forced upon them. None had envisioned this, none of them had wished to end this way. They had dreams like we too, dreams they pursued. But, it was only a dream that would remain longer than their lives, a dream that would remain only a dream.
READ ALSO: Let There Be Peace – Dera Udochukwu | Poetry
This would have teared you up the way it did me and if you haven’t heard of the story, then reading this probably would. If you have a bit of human empathy, then this would spook pain and anger in you. For we live in a country where survival has become an everyday struggle, the lives of the citizens no longer matter to the leaders who vowed to protect them.
This is a country that is being haunted by different manner of evils every day- the gory sight of murder, the heart-wrenching news we hear- the willful acts of injustices. Before you are done mourning one event, another is forced upon you, and you are forced to swallow the pain of yesterday to welcome a new pain of today. All these have intertwined into a thick cloud of darkness and it is hanging on almost every roof. But then, who do we run to? Where do we go? Nigeria is still our home.
In all these, being alive to write this is the greatest gift I can get from life itself. You being alive to read this is something to be thankful for. And for this, we keep hope alive. Something can still be done to salvage this country. We would keep striving to survive. Seeing each night turn into morning and the day darkened by the clouds should keep us going.
Deborah might be dead, but that’s not the end for us. Her death has triggered a fire in us. A fire that if we burn in the right direction can turn things around for the better. And for this reason, we match on and keep creating our own little peace in the storm.
About the writer
Chinonso Marymartin Okoabu is a student of the prestigious University of Calabar where she is studying Human Anatomy. She is a creative writer who focuses on SEO content and fiction. Her works have been published on different websites and in Love Feast Magazine. She aims to reach out to the youths positively with her stories.