The Nigerian nation woke up to the death of one of its renowned and popular figures, John Pepper Clark, a Nigerian poet and playwright; noted as one of the nation’s modern day foremost literary icon, a versatile thinker and a true progressive. Many of his numerous works has been celebrated within and outside the shores of the African continent. In the description and evaluation of many, he is regarded as a contemporary writer whose works raised various questions, causing controversies whenever and wherever he wrote or published them.
While the people mourn the death of this amazing poet and literary figure who dedicated a larger chunk of his life to national development and advancement through literary appreciation, the nation also rejoiced for a life well lived of an international icon who used one of the most potent gift humanity has given mankind, the pen!
As he departs, Nigerians have not only taken their time to celebrate the literary icon for his literary prowess, they have also taken their time to reflect on one of his foremost and popular works, The casualties. A poem which brought to the forefront of our national discourse the major contemporary issue which has plagued the Nigerian society. One which has not just stated now, but has been with us right from the beginning of time as it took it time while it reared its ugly head among us.
The casualty was a poem written by the departed against the backdrop of the Nigerian Civil War which lasted from 1967 to 1970. Reflecting on the implications of this poem written by a man who left the nation when the Nigeria populace is shouting and screaming for collective reforms of the structure called Nigeria.
We must ask ourselves the questions who are the casualties in the Nigerian community, the layman understanding of the word, “Casualties” means the victims or war, simply put, people who are killed or whose lives are grossly violated over the event or occurrence of a bad incident
An objective critique and evaluation of the literary piece in relation to the Nigerian realities will show those who we can describe as the casualties within the Nigerian society.
The nation’s national outlook has been heavily characterized within the last two weeks with rising voices of the nation’s Youthful Populace as they take to the street to demand an end to police brutality among other reforms in the nation.
For an agitations which started on the platform of the pages of the social media which has now transformed to a nationwide movements. These agitations remind each and every one of us that we are all casualties and victims of bad leadership and governance in Nigeria.
A nation which was predicted of having the potential of becoming one of the world’s biggest Economy but has unfortunately seen the nation’s Economic lot fall down the slope over the inability and ineffectiveness of the few ruling the nation to steer the affairs of the nation, harnessing its resources for the better
The recent protest by the nation’s youth which can be called Civil Disobedience is a clear indication of the ills within the Nigeria society which needs to be addressed. It is one that gives room for a larger reflection of our present State of the nation.
The youths are the biggest casualties of the inadequacies of the system, over the years they grew from the stage of childhood hearing the phrase, Youths are the leaders of tomorrow” while the same set of leaders have continued to rule the nation for the past few decades while the youths grew over the years watching these same circle of leaders rule and plundered away their future.
While the Nigerian nation sees a reality where its lawmakers collect the highest paycheck among other law makers in the world, while the youths suffers from neglect. A large chunk of the youth daily roams the corridors of the nation searching for jobs.
The casualties are the parents who have labored through the thick and the lean to train their children and wards through the various levels of the Nigerian Tertiary Institution while they still have to live the rest of their lives in frustrations seeing the children they do heavily invested on languish in pains and agony of not security a better reality for themselves where they can thrive and develop in the nation. Adding more salt to the injury is the sheer sight of men with the connections use their high ranks to secure juicy roles for their children as they continued to trample on the dignity of the masses
The Casualties are the various Nigerian workers who spent a larger chunk of their lives working for the government who after the duration of 35 years which is the official years a Nigerian worker is expected to use in the civil service or any other government establishment are given a paltry sum as compared to what men who are elected and lawmakers get after serving for four or eight years.
The Casualties are the masses that goes to the poll every four years to elect new leaders but are always gutted to realize how they have been fooled to electing men who are nothing but old breeds of vipers with no value or substance.
The Casualties are individuals with high hopes and aspirations, ones with dreams of a better tomorrow, ones who are committed to the path of progress but have been left down over the failures and inadequacies of the system to give them a viable platform to help nurture them and push them to the attainment of their goals.
The Casualties are all of us who have watched the system we had proudly call our own neglect us and fail to see to our wellbeing in our time of need.
While we are all Casualties of a bad government and a disoriented leadership with no viable plan for tomorrow, we must also ensure that we live for tomorrow; fighting for a better realities for our children who are the next generation. That they will not be called the Casualties, but a beneficiaries of the fight of the predecessors who stood against bad leadership to birthing a new reality for those yet to come.
By Marcus Amudipe