I remember the hundreds that were trampled in the canal almost ten years ago. They were running from the bombs. Bombs that were exploding in the Ikeja cantonment. Nigeria was not at war, unless you count the criminal negligence of our politicians as a special, more subtle kind of war. A war of attrition where each side tries to wear the other down slowly and steadily. We will win. We outnumber them. Yet, how many more will die before they give in?
The bombs exploded because they overheated. They overheated because they were not cooled properly.They were not cooled properly because there had been no running water in the military barracks for years. There had been no running water because someone had pocketed the money for the piping system. One day a petrol tanker caught fire close to where the bombs were stored. The heat spread. The bombs began to explode.
All over Lagos, people heard the noise and began to run. Those that were close to the bombs, those that were far from the bombs, they panicked and ran. They ran with their children. They ran with their merchandise. Some ran into the canal. A dirty brown waterway. Perhaps, those leading the charge stepped into the muddy waters and wanted to turn back. Once their feet touched the sludge, perhaps they came to their senses. What are we doing? Where are we running to? Why do we think that safety lies on the other side of this water?
But it was too late. Those behind were convinced that the bombs were right behind them. If they did not flee, they would die. And so they pushed them on, and others behind them pushed them on until people were stepping on bodies to cross the canal. A bridge of bodies. If you lost your footing, if you slipped on someones synthetic weavon, if you dared trip, you were clawed down and trampled. Those behind could not wait for you to find your feet again. Death was chasing them.
Over three hundred Nigerians died on that January 27th 2011. I saw the bombs flash red over the Ikeja night sky. I was there. iRemember.
Rest in peace Steve Jobs. You inspired us all.
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