Rivers 2023: Deafening Silence Amid Intimidation

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By Kingsley Wenenda Wali

“Fear is not for man” – Fela

Everywhere you turn to, everyone is complaining of how the basic essence of the Rivers people is being trampled on by the natives who are now the kids in charge. But ruled by fear, the conversations are in whispers. My response has always been that if you’re tired of the rot and despotism, then come out from your comfort zone. It’s not about Tonye, Atiku or even Integrity. Our dear state is under siege and it’s not just for politicians to fix. They broke it, and we all have to fix it.

We are at a place where they now want to regulate who we vote for, who we associate with, which market we buy from etc., Indeed our freedom is under attack and we can no longer stick our head in the sand or turn away and pretend we are blind to what is happening around us.

Your silence in this instance is not golden but indifference. So, if your silence is a polite way of rejecting the nonsense going on, sorry, that’s exactly you being indifferent. Let me burst your bubble my beloved. Indifference in the face of tyranny, despotism and vicious attack on civil behavior is criminal.

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Dr Martin Luther King Jnr. once said and I quote, “It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, Wait on time”. Wilhelm Stekel was even more scathing when he said that “The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference”.

The point is that when the fundamental and shared values of any society is threatened or viciously violated, then resistance by all sane people becomes a duty. You never know who the next victim would be. This is no longer about politics or power struggle. It is insane and inane determination to institute a hegemony that is based on the values of Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, François ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, Hastings Banda and a most vicious version of Josef Stalin.

My dear citizens of Rivers state, it is within our powers to seek freedom and liberty for ourselves today, so our children will not see evil and glorify it. We must see in liberty, the opportunity for rapid growth. What is happening in our state is abnormal and certainly not politics, but an unprecedented rape of our values. They want to kidnap who we are and violate us as they will. Our freedom as a people with a great history of progressive republicanism, should not be sacrificed on the altar of PDP or APC. We are a free people, who love life and live life as shared value. Freedom reflects in our choices – politics, work, commerce, social life, sports, culture etc. We suddenly cannot begin to contemplate life in servitude. God forbid!

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Freedom, to us, is everything. It is our dignity and our integrity. It is our everything as a proud people. It is not up for negotiation. It is that window through which rays of humanity, dignity and spirit will pour in. This is why Nelson Mandela said that “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Does the way we are living now, reflect who we truly are? Or “Is freedom anything else than the right to live as we wish?” At least, within the ambits of the laws of the land.

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If we must be free, then we must be bold in our challenge of whatever we consider evil. And like Charlotte Brontë said in Jane Eyre, because we are not birds, no net must ensnare us. We are free human beings with independent will. We are the ones capable of giving ourselves freedom. It does not matter if we are blue collar professionals, traders, mechanics, politicians, clergy, students or native doctors. We are all threatened and must rise up to challenge vicious plots to deny us our basic essence. In all we do, we must remind ourselves of the inspiring words of Aung San Suu Kyi …“THE ONLY REAL PRISON IS FEAR AND THE ONLY REAL FREEDOM IS FREEDOM FROM FEAR”.

Join the March of Freedom for you and Rivers state. It’s not a luxury but a duty to we the people and the future generations of Rivers state.

Wenenda Wali, a Port Harcourt-based good governance crusader, social activist and ardent humanist, is the National Leader of Unity House Foundation (UHF)




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