Community, Uncategorized

Why we need a communal approach to equality and justice

A thought just clicked in my mind today, about selfishness as it correlates with injustice. Corruption is selfishness, racism is selfishness, promoting ‘gender inequality’ is selfishness etc. Injustice is very much centred around the idea of ‘the self’ which includes a person’s likes and dislikes, as well as his or her beliefs.

To really tackle injustice from the crux, we must constantly remind ourselves and society that there is usually room for more. Ever gone late to a class or a meeting that was being held in a small room, around a long but limited-capacity table? Well, what happens is that people start to make space and a space for at least one chair comes up. If there is no space at the table, the person who came late, will take a seat behind those seating at the table but still gets to hear what is being spoken. To me, that person is still considered to be at the table – and is benefiting from the same information that everyone else in the room is hearing.

There is usually room for more.

Again, selfishness is a factor that correlates to injustice. It is often puzzling as to why someone will take the effort run to be a political leader in a nation and end up looting the treasury and/or oppressing the people through wars or dictatorship. Some organizations aim to have diversity in race and ethnicity but do not care to make a plan that will sustain the diversity and make all feel welcome.

The marginalized must also not behave like the oppressors, in their defense for the self …

As a Nigerian, I try to keep myself in the loop of things trending in Nigeria. I noticed that it is problematic to some Nigerians (not all), when they see other Nigerians rooting for the Black Lives Matter movement. To such people, their anger is essentially – How about the injustices in Nigeria? Why not focus on Nigeria instead?

I can understand where they are coming from, as there is a lot of inequality in Nigeria. There is injustice. Also, I know the anger of feeling left out because your tragedy doesn’t make world news. But, we must remember that there is room for more. Injustice against me should not blind me against oppression that others are facing. I think that as a citizen of the world, it is my duty as it is every other person’s, to care about people no matter what part of the world they are in, especially when they are facing oppression.

Remember, selfishness is a factor that correlates to injustice. Even when the oppressed person takes on that notion of the self against others, it is wrong. It is just like acting in the manner of the oppressor.

In our collective strive for a just world, we must remember that there is room for more. A communal mindset sets the pace for just societies and hence, a just world.

Love & peace,


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The Raif Badawi Case: With every lash, our humanity weeps


Raif with his three young children (Source: Bloomberg News)

Raif Badawi is a Saudi-Arabian blogger who was arrested in 2012 by Saudi Arabian authorities. Stories regarding the reason(s) for his arrest vary as some say he was arrested for “insulting” Islam and others state that he wrote against some Islamic clergy. Infact, he was accused of apostasy. In the year 2013, Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a fine and 1000 lashes (which would occur over the course of 20 weeks).

It is impossible to make any assertions, since people do not know why exactly Badawi was arrested and sentenced to such conditions (we do know that in general, that he was accused of somehow being against Islam). So, I will take caution with the way I phrase the following words – If indeed Badawi insulted Islam which is a people’s belief, that was a very wrong course of action to take. We should respect people’s beliefs unless those beliefs are thoroughly proven to be structured to cause nothing else but harm. I am pretty sure that this is not the case with Islam.

However, there is no justification for the kind of punishments that have been assigned to Badawi. A simple letter or phone call to Badawi would have been a more humane response, not a 10 year sentence that will be accompanied by 1000 lashes. The first 50 lashes were served on Friday last week. The 31-year old blogger was meant to receive 50 more, yesterday but wounds from the first set are yet to close. The wounds are indications of the very barbaric nature of the sentence. When Badawi heals, he is expected to continue receiving the lashes. Let us hope that the Supreme Court to which Badawi’s case has now been transferred, can help stop this injustice.

In the meantime, you can help by signing this petition that Amnesty International created for Raif Badawi: Thank you!

I do not see how one can claim to love God yet does not love the ones that God has sent for him/her to love. You cannot claim to love God yet you pronounce unjust rulings and cause harm, in the name of God. That is an ugly juxtaposition.

Free Raif,


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Who At This Time, Can Boast of Being Free?

Too often, we talk about fighting for the freedom of others, we talk about the people who are not free. But, who are the unfree? Perhaps, we could say – the poor, victims of war, people stricken by a chronic illness, victims of human trafficking, the marginalized racial groups in Western societies; the list goes on. While most of the people who fall into those categories are obviously oppressed, there is something about the usual addressing of the so-called unfree, that seems a little odd. It is possible that because I see myself, we see ourselves – as the empowered, the ones who live in a just society – we do not consider ourselves unfree, as well.

We live in a world that is stricken by injustice, corruption and fear. Victims of war exist in parts of the Middle East; racial prejudice continues to maintain popularity in the United States; Aboriginals for numerous decades have had the poorest standard of living than any other ethnic group in Canada; in April of 2014, over 200 schoolgirls where abducted by an Islamic extremist group (Boko Haram) in Nigeria. These examples encompass only a tip of the iceberg. Victims of such vicious actions were not born unfree, they are people whose fellow people chose to keep in bondage. So, when we categorize people from certain societies, racial groups and gender groups e.t.c, as captives of a sort, there is a problem. The issue is that we forget that all of us are unfree, at the moment.

We are.

We live in a world were black protesters in Ferguson are wearing shirts and carrying signs that read – stop killing us. They are urging not just law enforcement agents but also human beings to have some kindness. When we see such things, surely there must be a lump that goes down our throat. They are urging their fellow human being to love his/her brother/sister. Who is really free when kindness of humanity seems to not be innate? How about hearing that Aboriginal women in Canada continue to be prone to murder – don’t we still wonder where humanity lies in humans and also, who is really free? In fact, the phrase “Missing and murdered Aboriginal women” is a very common one in Canada. In October 2014, some Aboriginal families were dredging the Red River of Winnipeg in search of the bodies of missing relatives. If this happens in a world where the so-called privileged live, we are forced to reflect on the question – who is free? When over 200 girls are abducted from their school, taken away from their families and a bright future, by an extremist group whose name translates to “Western education is sin”, surely, some of us must wonder how innate kindness in humans really is.

The effects of globalization, mainly technological developments, continue to keep citizens of the world informed about vices going on in their society and in different communities of the world. The effects of this ease of information transmission presumably encourage people who are bold enough to advocate for the rights of their fellow humans, to step up and lend their voice. The solidarity being shown by protests in different parts of the world not only gives me faith that humanity still exists in some, it also brings hope that truly, the world can become a better place.

The oppressor (could be an employer, the government, the government executive/bureaucratic executive, a law enforcement agency, a militant group e.t.c.) whether he or she or they, know(s) it or not is unfree. It may not be acknowledged or seen, but the oppressor that puts another in bondage is also enslaved. The oppressor experiences an emotional slavery. The oppressor continues to seek ways to punish, does not learn from past mistakes, continually wishes to dominate, always grips to certain ideologies that create vices. The oppressor is not free. The oppressor is constantly driven in motion by negativity and this causes internal unrest. The oppressor also lives under constant attack (usually verbal) from protesters, governments and organizations that do not support injustice. How can you be free, when you are driven by poisonous emotions and ideals? Is not an enjoyable life one that is lived in peace and love?

Some of us may feel that the an occurrence is “not my issue”, so we do not react, though we may feel empathy for those that are directly and obviously affected. However, we are ALL un-free beings till everyone in this world is free from prejudice (ethnic, racial, gender, class, national origin), senseless violence and other injustices that are tormenting citizens of this world. We are not liberated till our brothers and sisters are free. We are not free because the vices inflicted on our brothers and sisters from the same or a different society, by fellow human beings can also come upon us. The oppressor is also not free but enslaved to wickedness and is constantly pestered by those that do not tolerate the violation of human rights. So, we all covet to be free one way or the other and we can make that change by working together to create more loving and peaceful societies.

In the words of the late Canadian politician, Jack Layton, “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world”.

Love & Peace,


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Why Are We Not All Free?

We live in a world where most people do not know what it means to be free – to be free to go to school, associate with a particular religion, attain their life goals and the list goes on. Most people do not have life security in their own country. On the other hand, most people know what it is to have the opposite of all the things that I have listed above. Sometimes it is just hard to face the reality that we are not all treated positively equal, although some of us live in the same country.

In Nigeria, a thief or suspected thief who is caught in public is beaten and burnt to death by members of the public, and the justice system does not frown at such behaviour. The practise of members of the public taking laws into their own hands has been going on for a long time, in Nigeria and that is very unimpressive.

That same backward attitude was the kind employed in late 2012, when four male undergraduate students of the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria were beaten and burnt to death. The four youngmen were accused of engaging in what I will term ‘basic theft’. They were suspected to have stolen a computer. Till today, it has not been proven that those young men who were cut off at their prime are guilty of what they were accused of doing. I cannot phantom what in the world came across the minds of the perpetrators of the murders. Did they think that they themselves were perfect? Did they consider themselves to be gods? Then I turn to the case of the on-lookers and wonder: why didn’t they rush to find help for the boys? Someone even took a video of the executions. There is yet to be justice for the families of those four boys who were taken from their families, from their schooling and from their dreams, as a result of barbaric attitudes.

In developed countries just like the one that I live in – Canada, such unauthorized executions will be evaluated seriously by the courts. The judicial systems of developed countries do not always serve what seems to be the right judgement. However, they must consider every law related to the crime before making a judgement. Why are we not all free?

Also, in Northern Nigeria, many people have been murdered for being Christians, and several youths have lost their lives for going to school. In the Eastern, Western, Southern and South-Eastern parts of the country, Muslims and Christians befriend each other, and secondary school children are not targeted for violence. Why are we not all free?

In parts of the Middle East, lots of innocent people are killed regularly. Why are we not all free?

I live in Canada and it is very admirable to see how multi-cultural the state is. Residents of Canada, including myself boast with that fact. However, not all cultures in this celebrated multicultural society are equal. Aboriginals in Canada for a long time, even since the 19th century, have been treated as unequal to other Canadians. Aboriginals in Canada live in very poor conditions. They earn less than the Canadian minimum wage and the rate of employment for them is very low. Why are we not all free?

The scenarios that I have discussed above are just a few of the injustices that citizens of our world go through. If you are free, help the captive know what freedom looks like. Take peaceful action to elevate the oppressed in your society and in other societies. We were all made equal, so we need to put a stop to the man-made structures that try to tint reality and group equals into different categories.

Read the reflections of my sister who is an experienced blogger, on the murders of the University of Port Harcourt boys here:



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