That Awkward Moment You Hear a Gunshot Close By
Laughter and lessons from a real-life event
2015 was not a nice year to be in northern Nigeria. You probably know why. A terrorist organization was bombing public places causing so much fear and panic.
The annoying thing for me was how these guys made the front-line (or front-page) news every time. Their making the mainstream news every time was deadlier than the havoc and killings. I wouldn’t say I was affected in any way, but I had my experience.
Earlier around the time the bombings started, a close friend of my parents died in a bombing. I knew the man very well. When I heard the news, I took it as we took floggings in basic (i.e. secondary) school. It hurts as it strikes but you act like it’s nothing because over time it will be nothing. We call it ‘dusting’. Those things only made me more resolute to my call.
In 2015, the challenge was still there and I was in one of those places where “something” could happen. Two times we got official bomb threats where I stayed but I was so calm and confident because of peace from within.
One morning, my roommate rushed to the room and shouted, ‘you are still here, don’t you hear gunshots?’. I dropped my headset and tried to pay attention to what he was saying. And sure enough, as I dropped my headset, I heard serious gunshots.
He continued, ‘they said robbers have taken over the town. I am wearing my clothes and going outside to join our neighbor, we will run into the bush’. As he was talking, he was wearing his clothes and then he dashed out.
My mind raced around a bit trying to make sense of what I was hearing. Then I went out to meet the neighbor to inquire what was going on. The neighbor said there was an assault by the thieves on the police force earlier in the day and it was quite bloody. While he was telling the news to my roommate, they started hearing gunshots. And they assumed the assault has continued into the town.
I went back in and thought about what it could all mean. One thing I know for sure is that I wasn’t going to be running into any bush. I stalled for a while and then continued what I was doing. And at the end of the day, it turned out to be a scare.
We later made jokes from the incident but when it was happening, it wasn’t a joke
Shortly after that, we heard that robbers attacked a nearby town. They shot at anything that moved. They stole (and killed) and there was nothing to hinder their operation.
The Solution Illusion
When I hear that they want to fight crime in a place, I often wonder what exactly they have in mind to do. It is almost like the chronicles of a thief but now, the person has graduated to a criminal. So, what can you do?
It is wise not to stand in front of a door you don’t have the keys to open. When the law catches up with the criminals, you can only watch as the law takes its course. But if there is a perversion of justice, what do you want to do?
If you say that doesn’t bother you, what do you do if that criminal meets you in a situation you don’t want to be?
The law doesn’t fight crime neither does it stop crime. The law is there to punish crime and criminals. There is no hope of crime ending by law and order. Crime can be reduced to a minimal level by conditioning people by the design of society. But the day a loophole shows or the criminals get sophisticated enough, all the good jobs you’ve done will go into the sewer. If you spend so much on something not happening, you only make it big news if (and when) it happens.
I heard something somewhere that goes, ‘peace is boring’. To be honest, there is an element of truth in that.
If you want to stop something or end something, what you should think about is what you need to start
That is because you don’t change things by trying to stop what is. You change things by starting something else to compete and replace what you don’t want. This is how to think forward.
In May 2015 when we first came into the town, it was a time like no other. Colleagues in the vehicle were already taunting themselves about where they were going. After an hour on the road, we had left the major town in the state. All we kept seeing were small villages with mud houses and bald bushes with hills. The morale of the group was at an all-time low. I wasn’t disturbed though.
After about 2 hours, we arrived in the town. The first thing we noticed was a bank that robbers had scattered. There were holes through the walls. It looked even worse than the picture above. And it was an abandoned building, an abode for straying animals. And we saw another bank in the same predicament. Then, a third bank in the same state. The question they started to ask in the vehicle was, ‘what kind of place is this?’
Fear of Bomb Blasts
Those robbers are different from the media-famous terrorist group. The bombing story of the terrorists is for another time. The thing about the bombers is that they caused so much fear.
I remember a story I heard that a man came to a market and dropped his bag to attend to something. Due to the way the man dressed and looked, everybody around that side of the market ran away from the bag in seconds. When the man returned, they discovered it was foodstuff that was in the bag.
The people had presumed it was a bomb. That is to tell you how much fear was in the air
One day, my roommate said he was going to the market. He returned very shortly without buying anything. Then I asked him what happened. He said a police officer (with other security personnel including soldiers) stopped him to search and check him when he got close to the market. After the officer certified him okay, he asked them what was going on and why they were present.
They told him that they got information that the bombers are planning to bomb the market that very day. My roommate without listening to further details told a motorcycle man to turn him back and take him back to his lodge right away. When he told me this, I had a good laugh.
How Strong are your Convictions?
There is something about a suicide bomber, he is ready to die. The problem is you that want to stop him — are you as dedicated as he is to his cause?
Can your convictions stand where his own is standing?
He is willing to die for what he believes — do you have something that strong that you believe? Are you ready to die for it? If you are not ready to die for what you believe, you are not ready to live what you believe.
This article was written in 2015/2016 from my experience in a community service initiative. Read the entire collection in the order it was written here.