FEATURE ARTICLE

Sunday, June 17, 2018
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CHASING THE SHADOW

he shadow is the image of a living thing or a non living thing caused by the reflection of the sun or the moon. If you are healthy, then your shadow appears healthy. But if you are sickly, then your shadow looks sickly. If you are tall, short, thin, fat, ugly, etc. then your shadow portrays it. It is still controversial if spirits or ghosts have shadows. Most people believe that ghosts have no shadows. If you come across someone along the road without a shadow during sunshine or moonlight, then he or she is presumably a ghost. Watch out as you travel or walk. Dead bodies have shadows because they are objects (now non living things). Masquerades have shadows because they are semi-spirits. In other words, they are human beings clothed in deadly attire.

In my childhood days, we usually engage ourselves in the chasing of our shadows or those of others. We tried to catch them or march on them, but all to no avail. At times we end up injuring ourselves. Whatever action we perform, our shadows do the same during sunshine or moonlight. Even dogs sometimes bark at their shadows, especially when they are hungry. A certain mentally deranged man set a trap beside the road where his nagging wife would be passing by. He hid himself behind a tree, watching to see his trap catch her shadow. As she came along, her shadow was cast towards the set trap. The mentally deranged husband was happy that he would make a big catch. Unfortunately the wife's shadow passed over the trap safely. The man was furious and started cursing the trap in these words: "Idiot! Good for nothing. I set you here to catch the shadow of my foolish wife, but you didn't. I will show you pepper today." He hit the trap with a big iron bar and threw it into a pit toilet to perish forever. When the wife eventually returned home on that day, the mentally deranged husband shouted at her, "Foolish woman! You are lucky. I would have trapped your shadow mercilessly in the afternoon as you were going out." The wife laughed at him and said, "Only a fool chases the shadow. If you dare to touch me in person, I will double your mental disorder."

In real life many of us chase the shadow. Often when someone tells us the truth or gives us correction, instead of doing the needful, we attack the person directly or indirectly. Sometimes we transfer our aggression to those who have nothing to do with the act in question. For instance, a certain wayward husband was cautioned by his wife to stop his adulterous life. Instead of the husband calling himself to order and apologizing to his wife, he threatened to sack her for having the audacity to confront the breadwinner of the house. He did not stop at that. He falsely accused the wife of sleeping always with their houseboy in his absence. He also stopped paying school fees for the children of his wife's deceased brother. Despite the tears of those children who knelt down to beg him for clemency, he hardened his heart. He asked them to go to the streets to beg in order to pay their school fees. Furthermore, he expelled his sick mother in-law from his house. Everyone, except himself, became his enemy. From then on, he abandoned the reality and began to chase shadows. He became prisoner of himself. Didn't the Bible say that the Truth shall set you free? (John 8:32).

Somewhere else, a civil servant was given three months' suspension without pay for her negligence and undue absence from work on many occasions. Instead of apologizing to the authority concerned, she accused her colleague of being responsible for her suspension through gossip. Her colleague swore by heaven and earth to show her innocence, but the suspended woman hung it over her neck. From that day, she started to witch-hunt the innocent woman. She accused her of witchcraft. One day, as the suspended woman was going about blackmailing the innocent woman, a poisonous snake came from nowhere and bit her on the ankle. Passers-by rushed her to the nearest hospital. Unfortunately, before any medical attention could be given to her, she kicked the bucket. God is never asleep.

Some persons frame up allegations against their perceived enemies in order to silence the truth. We see this in the Scriptural account of the encounter between John the Baptist and King Herod (Mtt 14:1 - 12). John courageously told Herod that it was unjust for him to snatch his brother's wife due to might. Herod did not find it palatable. He was filled with bitterness and sought occasion to deal with John whom he threw into prison unjustly for challenging him. An occasion came on his birthday, whereby his daughter danced attractively. He asked the daughter to ask him for anything she wanted, even half of his kingdom. The daughter through the conspiracy of the mother (the snatched wife of Philip) told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist there and then in a plate. Herod sent his servants to the prison to behead John. The head was brought to Herod. Herod gave it to her lovely daughter. The daughter gave it to her mother. Bible commentators say that the mother kept the head and continued piercing John's tongue with knife until it started decomposing, when she threw it away. What a wickedness and chasing of shadow!

In 1986, a popular journalist called Mr. Dele Giwa was sent a letter bomb parcel from the Military powers-that-be at that time. As Dele Giwa was unsuspectingly opening the letter enclosed in a big heavy envelop, the unexpected happened. The sealed letter bomb exploded instantly and chattered Dele Giwa's abdomen and everything in his official room. What was his offence? As the Editor of Newswatch magazine he was about to publish a report about an action of the Military Leader by then. He was silenced forever. Today, the question is still being asked, "Who killed Dele Giwa?" The late popular musician Fela attempted to answer it but not in full. Dele Giwa, rest in peace! Your killer killed you but did not kill the truth. He chased the shadow instead of reality.

Being outspoken in our society today has become a crime. But those who spread falsehood go about unmolested. If you are an apostle of truth and justice, then you will be hated by enemies of progress. They will crucify you alive. Calumny is no longer seen by many as evil. We are in a generation that gives a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Witch-hunting is the order of the day in our country Nigeria. What it takes to promote evil is for good men to keep silent. Often some of us are compromised to keep silent in the face of evil. In Law someone is presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. But today someone is crucified before trial. Sentence comes before judgment. The cart now goes before the horse instead of vice versa.

The present Nigerian Federal Government is engaged in the chasing of shadows instead of reality. For three years now ordinary Nigerians have neither experienced the promised CHANGE nor the real dividends of Democracy. Professor Pat Utomi describes the present Democracy as "the government of the politicians, by the politicians and for the politicians." Though the Federal Government is fighting corruption, corruption lives within the government circle. The fight is selective. It looks as witch-hunt for any opposing voice against the Party and the President in power. Any corrupt person who joins the ruling party becomes innocent automatically. Even some highly placed and out spoken officials in the National Assembly are being witch-hunted. Some have been accused of patronizing armed robbers. Could it be a set-up? Time will tell.

The unarmed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) were labeled by the Presidency as terrorists. Surprisingly, the bloody Fulani herdsmen going about killing, maiming, raping innocent Nigerians and burning their houses appear to be heroes. The recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day and the posthumous swearing-in of late President M.K.O Abiola is a welcome idea. However, it has some political undertones as the 2019 Presidential Election is at the door-step. It is a ploy to sway the Yoruba people into supporting Buhari and the APC in 2019. It is more expedient to protect the lives and property of the living by bringing the bloody Fulani terrorists and their sponsors to justice. Also many Nigerians are hungry and angry. The Presidency should avoid chasing of shadow and face reality. What is most needed now is security of lives and properties of Nigerians. Other things can then follow. The Word of God says it all: "When the righteous are in power, the people are happy. But they groan when the wicked are in power" (Proverbs 29:2).


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