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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Whilst l was Dazed

The past few days have been an emotional blur. On June 12 I was at the town meeting at the Muson centre to mark the 14th anniversary of the rape of democracy in Nigeria. Prior to that fateful day, democracy had been taunted and harassed, post June twelve, her honour taken, she was systematically dehumanized until the 1998 reprieve. Now she walks around in bright new garments her wounds unhealed, her soul damaged even as she is chastised to smile, forget the past and keep moving. This appallingly by some of the active participants and bystanders at her rape and dehumanization. Some of the known casualties of the June 12 struggle where there but by far the most powerfully haunting moment was when three ordinary, young men, one of them with one amputated leg were called on the stage to be recognized. These men had been shot, injured and jailed during the dark days and they stood on that stage representing the thousands who were murdered, maimed or jailed. They also stood there an indictment to a government that had benefited from their sacrifices but had not deem it fit to honour them nor work towards entrenching a society where such sacrifices will no longer be necessary. As l left the event, l drove into one of those notorious Lagos traffic, a friend called that the tri weekly armed robbery operation at Osborne in Ikoyi had started so l calmly tell my driver to turn in the opposite direction.

Time to kill so l go to cactus and order a meal and l began to read THE KITE RUNNER. l only put the book down 3 hours ago. Why l had not read it before now is beyond me for l had heard about it. l followed the story of the young privileged Amir in pre Armageddon (that's what the Afghan long drawn out wars and conflicts are) idyllic through the wars to present day, the skilful, spare and haunting writing drawing me deeper into the taste, colour, culture, contradictions and eventual savagery of a nation gone wrong, the disturbing thing is that so much of the themes are chillingly familiar to me as a Nigerian.



In all of these, my emotional rollercoaster was briefly halted by a phone call from Mrs Betty Irabor, publisher of Genevieve Magazine. She was uncharacteristically flustered and the sum total of what she had to say was Funmi, l have made a terrible mistake, how can l make amends. Why not articulate your deep apologies and circulate it in the media, people will sense the genuiness of your feelings. She said she'll mail me a copy and we signed off. l sat back staring sightlessly into my book.

Here l was mulling over unrighted wrongs from June 12 and the great lengths a man is willing to go to right many wrongs in Kite Runner and l wade into this situation. If there is one thing l know for sure, it is that true bravery lies in the ability to right the wrongs we wittingly or unwittingly commit or even more importantly to right the wrong of others. Thus, Betty Irabor did the right thing to apologize to Yinka and Genevieve readers but most importantly, she faces up to the little and not so little acorns of prejudice in us all that can potentially grow into irokos of unspeakable wrongs.

15 comments:

Gold88 said...

True, real courage is to right the wrong.

snazzy said...

that robbery thing was crazy, those guys came in a bus. did u here of the little robbery activity on 3rd mainland on sunday morning.

anyway obi is back in office and dokubu is free

on Mrs. Irhabor said...

her apology was one kind too...

My 2 cents said...

I still feel slighted by Betty's views. The first cut is the deepest, you can't display that on print, it will never go away.
she might apologise and all but who is to say the millions of people who live with HIV/AIDS will ever forget, just my 2 cents..

36 INCHES OF BROWN LEGS said...

@snazz
i was on third mainland on that sunday morning!! madness!! i dotn even know what to say!!

36 INCHES OF BROWN LEGS said...

oh and on Mrs Irabor, her apology was indeed one kind If no one had complained, would she have apologised or just think she can just, write it, and get away with.her apology though accepted by a few people was offensive in itself. what was 'playful' about what she wrote? editors really do need to re-think before publishing o.

Anonymous said...

Betty did the right thing by publishing that experience, but I missed the lofty morale of the tale if there was one. All I noticed was huge relief - not a lesson in tolerance or compassion.
I wonder how Ms. Jegede will feel after reading Betty's article?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for indicating "The Kite Runner". I'll go grab a copy.

I've just finished "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls - an oyinbo rags-to-riches of a unique kind. Spanking good read.

Mandy Brown-Ojugbana said...

Just finished reading her apology on Jeremys blog before reading the actual article on your blog.We as a people all have a long way to go.Let us judge not.

catwalq said...

Just to show how numbed the bulk of us are to June 12, I had completely forgotten about its significance.

Ms Irhabor's intentions, in my opinion were not well articulated. She has explained in a response to an email I sent in to the magazine immediately I read the article, that she only tried to highlight the fears that plague the bulk of us. Fine. I am not too sure how I will act if I was in her shoes. But I do know that if I had been the one writing the article, I would have taken great pains to explain why a reaction such as the one she exhibited was unjust and unwarranted. Her patronising conversation with the woman in question was insulting and I felt the last statement "But for his grace..." was extremely tactless.
Many have created an uproar about this because she is the last person we need to exhibit any type of ignorance. Few people in our society are worthy of respect and emulation. Ms Irhabor has over the past few years earned the right to have that and that is why we, her admirers were most disappointed with the tone of her article.
It was like the few advancements we had made as a people had been dashed to the ground.
Just think about the millions who will read that story and accept that as their creed. Not acceptable at all.

Moriam said...

Lagos will always be Lagos, On the note of Mrs irhabor, we are all human, but it is good when we realize it and correct our mistake...

Jola Naibi said...

The Kite Runner is an absolute page-turner. You might also want to pick up his latest book - A Thousand Splendid Suns. On the surface the plot reads similar to The Kite Runner but with female protagonists but according to reviews, it is the complete opposite and just as enthralling

funmi said...

@ all, l must confess that the apology doesnt appear to come from a deeply contrite place or recognise the import of the damage, we have contacted Yinka, the poor lady is still so raw that she broke down in tears. l suggest that mrs lrabor gets up, goes to yinka's home and do whatever she must from a deep and sincere place to right that wrong making sure that the next morning dew reflects a purity that comes from learning and a soul that honors all.

@36 and snazzy, friend of mine got robbed in front of his office in VI extension next morning, sometimes it feels like we are all sitting ducks.

@anonymous, thanks for the recommendation, will go get Glass Castle and perhaps we can compare notes? kite runner is a must read.

Judy123 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

i think if we r goin 2 b honest all of us or in d least most of us wld ave acted d way Mrs Irabor did,d only thing we mite nt ave done is to put it in a paper.

for me,i think i have an idea of who she is and she dint mean it d way its being percieved,lets take it easy on her,really hw many of us think she's not a compassionate prs and why do u quickly turn away when sm1 close to u has just sneezed...

i await d rain of verbal blows.

Aunty Funmi pls kip up d gd wrk,i love,love new dawn.