By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor
Tuesday, October 20, 2020 has gone down history globally as a black Tuesday in Nigeria. It was the day Nigerian soldiers opened fire at Nigerian youths who were waving Nigerian flags and singing the Nigerian National Anthem in a peaceful protest against police brutality and organized extortion, a corollary of bad government and governance.
All the denials, both by the Lagos State government and the Nigerian Army, are not good for this country. The cry over destroyed properties and blaming of the social media and #EndSARS protest in exclusion of the lives of the youths that were lost during the protests, especially at the Lekki Toll Gate shooting, are callous.
Human life cannot be equated with material wealth, no matter how valuable that wealth may be. The life of one youth lost at the #EndSARS protest occasioned by government’s failure could be the life of one Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, or Bill Gates lost.
It beats the imagination how anyone who calls himself a father, brother or sister could have summoned the courage to open fire on his children marching peacefully, for the good of fatherland, holding only the national flag and singing only the National Anthem, even if it were to scare them.
How could anyone command soldiers, clothed and fed with money from taxes paid by parents of the youths, to shoot at the youths with the guns and bullets bought by their parents?
These and many others are the questions artists are not just asking, but creating artworks as symbols and monuments of the Lekki Toll Gate tragedy specifically, and the #EndSARS protests as a whole. Why? Why? Why?
Expectedly, one artist who is interrogating the #EndSARS and Lekki Toll Gate tragedy is Bob-Nosa Uwagboe, Nigerian-born Africa’s foremost protest visual artists who returned to Nigeria from Poland last month where he had exhibited his works titled TRANSIT at the prestigious National Museum in Gdansk, Poland.
Bob-Nosa has created a number of works which document the #EndSARS and Lekki Toll Gate events. One of the works, though untitled, clearly represents the peaceful #EndSARS protesters holding nothing but the Nigerian flag. The second work Bob-Nosa has availed us the privilege of beholding is titled “The Undertaker”.
Together, these two thoughtful artworks tell a complete story: Youth protesters were demonstrating against police brutality and bad government of their country, then the politicians sponsored thugs and hoodlums to start attacking the peaceful protesters to make it look like the protest has turned violent, just to advance a reason to crack down on the youth protesters.
Then finally, the heartless killers and undertakers moved in, killed the youths and dragged away their bodies. “They should not tell us this is not true. We won’t believe anything they tell us because they have always lied to us, even before the protests and after the Lekki Toll Gate shooting,” an aggrieved, traumatized youth who survived the Lekki Toll Gate shooting told Vanguard.
“This is a work I did originally for those who lost their lives as a result of gross misconduct by our security operatives. As we can see, it is even more relevant today. I am re-dedicating it to all victims of the Lekki Toll Gate shooting on October 20, 2020. May their souls rest in peace,” Bob-Nosa said of a work he titled “The New Human Abattoir”.
What about the wounded
The wounded too are forgotten. We can all imagine the type of stampede the shooting must have triggered. We all saw pictures of the wounded with deep cuts on their limbs and other parts of body. We may have missed these details, but Bob-Nosa did not. He captured the wounded in this #EndSARS protest & Lekki Toll Gate Shooting monuments.
Yet, the authorities are busy bickering over the number of people that died and blaming the social media for what happened, instead of blaming themselves.
So far, there is nothing in government’s utterances and actions that suggests they have learned any positive lesson from the #EndSARS & Lekki Toll Gate Shooting. It is painful that our young people had to sacrifice their lives that way in search of a better country.
But now that the youthful blood sacrifice has been made, nothing else should stop Nigeria from transforming into a country where the youths and other citizens can actualize their dreams and aspirations in life. Enough of this failure and bloodletting.
Source: Vanguard Newspaper