Onyinye OyedeleFriday, February 24, 2006
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Ontario, Canada



ne beautiful evening Ekaete was about to get ready for her 'buka'experience. She just woke up from a short nap. Much needed after the brainstorming engineering drawing workshop she just had. She slept on an upper bunk and had to make her way down to the ground by using the lower bed as a footstool. Feeling refreshed from her nap, this fine lady instead of stepping slightly on the edge of the lower bunk, decided to jump straight to the ground! Trying to recap her days of practicing high jump for inter house sports. Ekaete did not see a reading metal chair that had a spiky edge. She went straight for it and it cut her deeply on her leg. Abasi oh! She screamed! The cold harmattan breeze helped to heal the wound but left a very big scar that constantly reminds Ekaete of the day she tried to be superwoman. Now that is a physical scar. It does not hurt anymore but it is a constant reminder for "madam Olympics". I am sure you can all remember various injuries you had as a child while playing 'catcher' or some other domestic accidents. May be you have a surgical scar or an immunization scar on your upper arm, near your shoulder. You have recently had an oven scar or an Okada scar! Apart from physical scars, there are two scars amongst others common to us as humans: they are mental and emotional scars.

Have you been mugged by armed robbers? I remember my own experience one morning at Maza Maza in Lagos, near the canal, some years ago. I took a night bus and arrived safely. But instead of waiting for a brighter morning, I decided to take a short walk to Mile Two. I had not been home for a while so I was really excited. As I walked down the road, a bus was blocking my view and I did not know that there was an ambush ahead. Dangerous weapons were brandished and my luggage taken. I am glad to be alive today. That was my first and last time of boarding a night bus. It left me with a mental scar.

Growing up as a child, you might have faced so much hardship and you were always going from place to place asking for money or you had to stop school. They will tell you…..come today, come tomorrow, just to collect school fees. Or you had to always buy food and other things on credit and your family even faced the humiliation of being thrown out of the house for not paying the rent! Ah nhere (shame)! People said hurtful things to you and never believed you will be anything in life. May be you grew up in an atmosphere of domestic violence and you never really knew what a peaceful home should be like. Maybe your family had to split because of hardship or a loss, and you did not have a stable home anymore. These are mental and emotional scars that have the capacity to stay on your mind for a long time. People will hurt us as long as we live on this earth.

Some human relationships don't turn out perfect sometimes. Someone might have worked out of your life or maybe you feel guilty for letting someone down. You have faced rejection in many areas. You might have been rejected due to tribalism or racism, or any other zeem….(ism) you can think of. You have been treated unfairly. These could be grouped as emotional scars and also have a huge possibility to weigh you down. However, both mental and emotional scars unlike a physical scar are hidden, only the bearer of such scars knows where it hurts. It is in your heart and mind. It can not be covered with clothes and time does not really heal it completely. Only God can heal your heart and mind.

Finding internal healing for mental and emotional scars is indeed a very lonely journey but one that must be embarked on to bring closure to the past. The time limit for healing differs from person to person but it would be a waste of a lifetime to dwell on this part of the journey of life forever. We can not dispute or deny the pain. But will we continue to deny ourselves of the joy ahead? Will we lock new people and events out of our lives? Will we continue to be prisoners of the past? It is so easy to keep asking WHY? And for us to forget that maybe there is a bigger picture for all those scars. There are some things that happen to us that we can not reason out or even explain how we found ourselves in such situations, but we should be happy that we are alive to tell the story and laugh over it. There is a sense of freedom and divine peace when you forgive the mistakes of the past and release people in your heart. You also need to forgive yourself and realize that we are all vulnerable. But we should learn from the past and be more cautious in future. God uses every scar to make us strong for the future as long as we learn.

As a nation, we definitely have scars in our political history. Before any election, those scars will come up. As long as we continue to co-exist 'wahala' (trouble) is inevitable. It is part of life. But when we have a forum where people can come and 'hala'(vent), do their gragra (macho power) and dialogue reasonably, we will make progress. It is okay to 'flog' each other with the law, constitution, history and grammar. Everyone has a right to voice his or her opinion in a constructive way. No tearing of agbada, throwing of chairs and slaps please! It looks like playing 'ten ten'. (Child's play)

Maiming and killing fellow citizens is not the ideal way to resolve a conflict. Respect for human life is important. We should educate people so that they understand that clash of opinions does not mean rejection of a person or hatred. We should tolerate our differences because that is where our uniqueness lies. We should live in peace as much as possible forgiving one another. Some recent headlines just make you cry.

Forgiveness is a powerful experience that should be given and also received. It is not a sign of weakness but proof that you understand the frailty of man. It should not be forcefully asked for, but willingly given and gently received.

Finally, physical scars do not hurt anymore, they just remind you of a place where you should not go again or to look closely before we leap. When you have been healed mentally and emotionally of any scars in the past, you will feel no more pain or bitterness but laughter. You will smile at the past and embrace the future with hope and courage. You can indeed be set free from every shackle and fetter of the past, by divine hands.

…Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Onyinye Oyedele is a former BEN-TV London News anchor.