I killed an ant today at the back of my house today while getting some water in cans. It was a large ant and it could have hurt me if I let it. This means I can argue that I killed the ant in self-defense! I killed the ant because I could. I am bigger, I was wearing footwear and the ant was different from me. The ant could not have called for help or called the police or brought out a gun. I could, so I did. And I have a valid excuse.
A few weeks ago in Ghana, certain unscrupulous Nigerians kidnapped young ladies and apparently wanted to use them in ritual murder. I am not sure whether those girls have been found as at the time of this writing. The case is so serious that the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana is involved and other innocent Nigerians may be paying for this crime in some parts of Ghana. Some Nigerians in Nigeria have become quite concerned about their relatives in Ghana this period because of rumours that Nigerians are being asked to leave Ghana or being attacked.
Over the weekend during the Nigerian Elections, certain unscrupulous fellows sympathetic to a certain political party in Lagos were nabbed in Okota, Lagos trying to snatch ballot boxes. Reports have it that one person was killed or seriously hurt. The response from the Odua People’s Congress, a well-known Pro-Yoruba group is that there will be retaliatory attacks on the Igbos who killed their brother.
The last two incidents I cited are similar to my killing of the ant in certain ways. One side or the other, a killing was executed because one party thought they had the power to kill and the reason to kill. The third common factor is the key issue in this post – difference. Nigerians are different from Ghanaians, Yorubas are different from Igbos, blacks are different from whites, Hutus are different from Tutsis, Moslems are different from Christians and so forth. Depending on the level of granularity we decide to descend to, we will always find that we are different from each other in one way or the other.
We are justifying our intent to kill one another on the basis of our differences but I think while doing that we ignore our real problems. Is the problem with kidnapping in Ghana cause by the presence of Nigerians or by the presence of kidnappers? Is the killing of an OPC member in Lagos cause by Igbos or by those who want to flaw elections? Are xenophobic attacks the solution to South Africa’s employment problems?
We can always make up excuses for our inherent hatred for our fellow man but that doesn’t really solve our problems. We need to sit back and really contemplate who the enemy really and what the solutions to our problems really are. If we do not do this, particularly in Africa, we will pass our problems over to our children and teach them the same hate we practice.