On Peace: Rememory

Amb. Jonathan ABIOYE

10.07.2019 / Ed. 111

“The storm tore through our paradise, devouring everything in its path, living us wasted, with ruins and wounds to tend and nurse”

I love the performing arts even though my extremely self – conscious older version of me may deny it. I feel weird when I act, I enjoy the experience and yes, the spotlight. My love for the stage and for music runs as deep and far back as my memory can serve me, and I have indeed been blessed with a good memory. My love for music and dance is so strong I would set up a mock stage with a stool in my wee years, make an audience out of my next door neighbors, performing whatever comes to my mind. It was so intense that I didn’t have a particular selection of music or a preferred genre. Anything that has a beat and a good tune will do. From artful and tastefully done music by popular musicians across genres popular to even classical, to nursery rhymes and even TV commercials.

I remember in 2001, when the first civil unrest happened in Jos, Plateau State. It hit, big-time. It resonated and radiated round the state in one huge, angry, destructive wave. We had never seen anything like it, so how could we have prepared for it? We knew this place as our home of peace and tourism, a haven, complete with a super fair weather. Every other thing opposite of this was completely alien. The storm tore through our paradise, devouring everything in its path, living us wasted, with ruins and wounds to tend and nurse. The sorrow and our new reality the most difficult to face.

Unfortunately, present times have shown that we have never recovered. We have only gone downhill from there. Our security is not only in shreds but nearly non-existent.
On the heel of the crisis of that 2001, after the unrest had quieted down just a bit, the Nigerian Television Authority, Jos began to air a few commercials centred on peace, but there was one that captured me, burning itself into my memory. My musical mind immediately created an attachment to the song, but I didn’t know how deep at the time. The intro began with an up-tempo African beat that was danceable. And the imagery from beginning to the end was one that portrayed Nigeria’s diverse cultures from dance, to a flash photography of our delicious delicacies. While that is easy to remember, I only discovered weeks ago how deep the commercial was burned in my memory when the words began to rumble in my belly and roll out of my mouth, line after line, verse after verse with the beat, timing and melody crisply playing with no fogginess at all. I had gone into the camp before the realization of the decades from when I culled this dawned on me.

I want to bring to the fore the profound lyrics of this song today, so we can pay attention to the admonition, warning and advice it gives. Its message is just as meaningful and useful today as my young mind perceived it then. It’s timeless. Enjoy its refreshing newness with me as I remember and hope anew.

No matter where you come from,
No matter your religion
we are one, let’s live together.

Let’s stop fighting each other
Let us love as one
It Doesn’t matter where you come from
Your tribe or religion, Let Us understand
Man, woman or child
it doesn’t matter who you are,
let’s put Nigeria first.

The message borne on the gentle waft from the silverbird radio station gives the feeling that social and economic development can only happen in an atmosphere of peace. Let’s shun violence of every sort and give peace a chance.

For Peacepace Initiative… towards peace.

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