On October 20, 2020 the Nigerian government massacred an unknown number of its citizens at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos. I watched in horror from home until I saw the picture of a bloody Nigerian flag. I turned off my phone immediately but I haven’t forgotten that flag. I don’t think I ever will.
Before that day, I would’ve never called someone a “weyrey,” which is Yoruba for a crazy person. But since then I have used that term freely and loosely. Because I am angry and there’s nothing I can do about it. I am angry that the average Nigerian life means nothing, yet all we’re expected to do is be quiet and accept it. To do otherwise would mean risking your life, or worse, losing it.
I’ve known for a long time that Nigerian lives mean nothing to their government. I used to work in a newsroom and I covered Boko Haram for years. Every morning I’d get a Google alert with the death toll, and I’d report it like it was just another day’s work. I covered stories of jungle justice and saw bloodied bodies burned to a crisp. I reported stories of police brutality where the victims never got justice.
I already know the drill, yet I can never get over October 20, 2020. Because while the whole world was watching, innocent young Nigerians were gunned down by their own army. The whole world saw it, yet no one has been held accountable, and no one will be.
All those people died, and we’re supposed to pretend like it didn’t happen. We’re supposed to forget it, like we forgot the ALUU 4, like we forgot all those Boko Haram victims, like we forget the thousands of Nigerians who die each year because their government can’t be bothered to protect them.
I can’t forget that bloody flag, and I don’t think I will ever be okay with knowing that all those people died and nobody will pay for it.