Before I sat to write, I watched The Torture Virus, a BBC Africa Eye documentary that exposed the kind of torture methods our security agencies (including the notorious SARS) subscribe to. Prominent of these torture methods is one called Tabay. To torture with Tabay, a person’s elbows are tied behind the back to inflict excruciating pain. Sometimes, the ankles are also tied behind a chair. Sometimes, this person may be twisted into a triangle and hung on a rope. Sometimes, a weight (a cement block or a tree trunk) is laid on his back; the middle of that triangle. This documentary was incredibly painful to watch. I couldn’t stop crying. At some point, I screamed: “God! What are you doing up there? End this freak show!”

Later that night, I thought of my outburst and the demand I had made, the question I had asked. What is God doing up there? In theory, I know what God is doing up there. I know why Christians have been put on this earth. I know that this whole thing will end with victory ascribed to the Lamb. I know about the last day and rewards and punishment but this is all too much. The pain. The suffering. The ugliness. Too many broken people. What is God doing up there?

Nigeria is just a gigantic crime scene; a culmination of oppression, suffering and too many human rights abuses. I mean, you can pay police officers to kidnap a person or two for you. You can do anything, say anything and get away with anything. The government can declare days of fasting to fix the country and rats can take over our version of the white house. Anything can happen and with the whole of my being, I have always known this but something about protesting to end SARS made me rediscover Nigeria. The protest became a mirror to reexamine everything I thought I knew for sure. Several weeks have passed and the protest is long over but my life has not remained the same. My mental health is suddenly too brittle (it always has been brittle) and I now think of my traumas as pre-protest, during protest and post-protest. I now recognize a great divide, something like an awakening except that nothing awoke. Maybe somethings awoke but other things died first.

I was never an optimist. Never. I take my pessimism and my cynicism everywhere I go. When it comes to Nigeria, I know the depth of the rot and its many faces. I know how we got here – who and who did what, who and who said what – but I don’t know where we are going. I can’t see where we are going. But in my bid to end SARS, I let my guard down. Mumu me. I dared to believe that the prayer walks and the collective goodwill of millions of people would end in something positive. It didn’t. Instead, government-sponsored violence and a massacre happened, and every other thing went downhill from there. Deception right in your face. Did you steal the meat? No. Two days later. Did you steal the meat? Yes, but it is not the cow meat. We don’t normally steal cow meat in our village. Four days later. Okay, I stole the cow meat but the meat flew out of the pot first. It landed on my scrotum and I had to kill it.

Sighs.

Fixing Nigeria was never supposed to be easy. You can’t move from a dictatorship (colonialism) to a democracy (“independence”). It is a matter of common sense. But, is it really supposed to be this hard? Are we supposed to pray, believe and “activist” our way to toothpick production?

In my bid to end SARS, I endangered my mental health. I rediscovered Nigeria. I set myself up for grief, sensory overload and heartbreaks that even Asa’s songs cannot heal.

God, what are you doing up there?

I know the theory. I know about freewill and how the writer cannot step onto the stage until the play is over. I know about mansions and a utopia where there will be no pain or sickness or regret. I know that, regardless, we will all have pain in this world but by accepting Christ, we walk through our pain with a nail-scarred hand. I know the theory but I could really use that mansion right now. Maybe not me, maybe those people being killed in Zamfara and maybe, Somalia or the children in Yemen. Maybe everybody in the world.

But what makes my grief special? Is history not a culmination of the many things man can do to another man? Is history not evidence that some people will suffer and others will get away with making them suffer?

Why won’t God do something? I don’t mean appear in the cloud and announce “I am the Lord, your God” in a booming voice. I mean subtle things, subtle reassurances. A humming in my chest. A vision in my sleep. A heart attack or two. Or five. Even thirty-seven. Maybe four hundred and sixty nine. Abacha style. Kidding. Or not.

The Christian Bible remains the greatest purveyor of hope in the world. Lots of promises. A whole lot of promises. I believe in all those promises but sometimes, wheew. Well, maybe “Is there anything God cannot do?” was never really the question. Maybe the question should have been: “Is there anything God will not do?”

10 COMMENTS

  1. Here’s my conversation with the Hassler, I thought I should share it with you guys (on the Hassles request)

    Me: Liked your blog post.

    Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.
    Isaiah 57:1‭-‬2 NLT.

    Saw this scripture while reading this morning. It seems like an answer to a question in the blog post

    Hassler: Yeah. When they die. That’s my problem. Waiting till death.

    Me: Why is it a problem for you?

    Hassler: I dunno. It’s unsettling. Telling a woman with cancer not to worry cos when she dies, she will enjoy. Telling a girl who has been gang raped and got no justice to relax cos when she dies, she’ll be happy.

    Me: Here is a submission I want you to consider:
    First, the three virtues that are said to remain even till the end are love, faith and hope (1 Corinthians 13:13). And none of these speak much of present gain.
    Secondly, The major promise of God to us is that we will receive eternal life (John 3:16). Eternal life speaks of us living beyond when we die (or sleep as Paul likes to put it).
    Hassler: Yes. Yes. Hope, faith and love. Thanks. Write it on the blog na

    Me: Thirdly, sleeping is not the only way God can bring peace to a soul. God heals too. He heals people from cancer, headaches, HIV and even emotional trauma (Joyce Meyer is a prime example of the latter).

    That scripture is an IF scripture. What I mean by that is, if the righteous die as often is the case, God is most times trying to protect them from the evil to come (this evil to come is actually God’s punishment for the evil done to his servant – check out King Josiah’s story and how God allowed him to not see the carrying away of Judah – He made sure he died before it happened)

    Hassler: But there those who are not healed. In fact, the unhealed outnumber the healed by a large gap.
    All the evil politicians in this country are still balling.

    Me: That’s an assumption. _We tend to remember and internalise the bad and trivalize the good_

    Hassler: Lol

    Me: Trust me, even David had issues with this. I think you should read his answer in the Psalms.

    Hassler: Okay

    Me: I know they are at least 4 or 5 Psalms if not more where he ask this question.

    Hassler: Okay

  2. My own is how to subscribe to receive a message every time a post is made here, I long to know what hassles others are going through to be sure I’m not alone.

    If it’s about my faith hassles, I see them everyday. The street kid who asks for alms everyday. The little boy with torn uniform and broken sandals, running off to school without books because his parents were poor and his grandparents too. Perhaps, his entire lineage have never spent 1million naira cumulatively. In this world, saving your mental health is almost impossible .

    Some keep suffering while others get away with it. Thank you Pitan for always using the sóro sóke ️button.

    ❤️➕

  3. Lil’ bit of optimism could help too .

    The country isn’t far from redemption.
    I also think the last Protest helped a lot of individuals Who were once victim of the gruesome acts of “SARS” to Know that they actually do have a Voice.

  4. If the creator and master of the universe doesn’t do anything about evil, he either doesn’t care enough or is not powerful enough to stop it.
    There is no justice in this world except we make it. It’s obvious God is not making it for us.

    • I like the fact that you consider the fact that we tend to live in a funny contradiction.

      We say we believe in God but reject the absolute idea of what God is. To think that we grasp what He can and cannot do is simply an ignorant affront on his “God-ness”.

      To be God is to be beyond our understanding and shrouded in some kind of mystery (both revealed and not revealed).

      Hence I believe that this notion here suggests that the concept of God expressed is one that disregards the true meaning of what it means to be God.

  5. Smiles….I think that’s the right question

    Is there anything God will not do?

    We should also ask, is there not a chance that we’ve mistaken what it is God can do and God can not do? Yes, I mean “could it be that we’ve mistaken God’s ability?

    In reply to your question ma’am, “the anything God will not do is He won’t take away the ability for man to make his choices.

    Well done ma’am

  6. It feels good to know I’m not the only one struggling with all this. It feels good to know I’m not the only one asking him some serious questions and hoping, no, praying for some answers. Thank you so much for sharing, Pitan. You really are the bravest of us all.

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