Featured Storyteller

NIGERIA: Americans, Learn From Our History of Resistance

Olutosin
Posted November 17, 2016 from Nigeria
Photo © Weronika Milczewska, courtesy of Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale.

Following the US election, Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale issues a call to kindness and unity.

“We, the Nigerian people, began to educate, agitate, and organize.

It is the dead of night here in Nigeria and I am looking at the situation in the United States following the election of Mr. Trump. I am reading about the hate speech, and the actions and reactions of the American people after the announcement of his victory. I am remembering once upon a time in the history of Nigeria when an unpopular ruler came to power.

It was the ‘90s and his name was General Sani Abacha. He was fear personified—an embodiment of what nobody wanted. His reign was dumped on our shoulders, forced upon us in a military coup.

I am not bringing up Abacha now to compare him to Mr. Trump. Our late president was cruel and a killer. You cannot compare the two men. I think of Abacha now because of how we, as Nigerians, responded to his rule.

Although it was a tough time, Nigerians united in love, undaunted in the face of oppression. We fought with our might and we won in the end. As my sisters and brothers in Northern Nigeria would say “Seriki goma; zamani goma,” which means “Ten kings; ten seasons.” There is no everlasting king. The world is not as straight as the rod of a gun.

Abacha was very powerful. His words became law, and existing laws were set aside when he spoke. His men were linked to the disappearances of activists. Many writers and musicians were paid to praise this leader. Others, who could not remain silent, went into self-exile.

Meanwhile, women and men in Nigeria were taking action. We were emulating those who fought and won against oppressive regimes in various parts of the world. We were taking steps that would change humanity forever.

The reign of the fearful one laid the solid foundation of social work in Nigeria. The civil society organizations that we created are still strong today. This era brought about the resistance of young minds and elderly people alike—all who said “enough!” It was the birth of a movement of women and men who refused to remain silent.

We, the Nigerian people, began to educate, agitate, and organize. There were midnight meetings and terrifying moments. But no matter how slow to react, weak, shaky, or low the sound of our voices, we never stopped speaking.

Nigerians are used to election promises that will never see the light of day, and many of Mr. Trump's hateful speeches will also never see the light of the day. But in a time of oppression, we must remember what Wole Soyinka said, “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” Never again shall Nigerians remain silent in the face of a leader who disrespects anyone in Nigeria.

To my sisters and brothers in the United States—especially those who are white—this is the time to become the embodiment of what your nation stands for; a land of free speech and freedom. America is not the land of free hate speech. This is the time to stand for what you believe.

This is the time to stand together and hold hands together. This is the time to watch and ensure that the immigrant feels safe before you move on. It is the time to place your hand on the shoulder of a transgender person. If you see someone groping a lady, stand with her at that moment. This is the time to stand firm on what has continually held the world together—love.

American sisters and brothers, come together to make a resounding impact in the lives of your voiceless ones. There is a local Nigerian adage that says, “The water that is meant for you will not flow into a gutter.” Nobody can steal your jobs. What is yours will be yours.

Nobody is a lesser being. This was why your activists of the golden Civil Rights period stood up and sacrificed their lives on that altar of humanity.

It is a new morning in America and a wake-up call for the whole world. It is a call for all of us to work together and unite against the actions that will bring the US back to the early days of humanity.

This is not a call to fear. No, the world has known enough fear of danger and death. This is a call to kindness; a call to renewal of faith in humanity; a call to serve the defenseless; a call for a just and egalitarian America.

America, the world stands with you in love as you look to stand in kindness once again. Only in your love and togetherness can you make America great again.

Comments 16

Log in or register to post comments
Dhara Patel
Nov 18, 2016
Nov 18, 2016

inspiring 

Naasreen
Nov 19, 2016
Nov 19, 2016

So empowering.

Ann Forsthoefel
Nov 19, 2016
Nov 19, 2016

Dear Olutosin,

You are my rock, my sister, my inspiration - your words fuel me and restore my faith in all humanity that global kindness and love will be the result of this election. It may be a challenging world as you know, but together we will rise.

Bright Blessings,

Ann

Olutosin
Nov 22, 2016
Nov 22, 2016

Amen.

Thank You.

In deep appreciation.

Hina Bhaagat
Nov 19, 2016
Nov 19, 2016

My Beloved Olutosin!

Your thinkings are Excellent! And yes trying is the best policy!

Olutosin
Nov 22, 2016
Nov 22, 2016

Thanks for your comment. Thank You.

Folagems
Nov 20, 2016
Nov 20, 2016

Thank you!

April_rain
Nov 21, 2016
Nov 21, 2016

Hi Olutosin,

This was a good read. Thank you for this call to kindness, faith and service! We need a reminder of this like never before! 

Thank you for sharing.

April_rain

Carrie Lee
Nov 21, 2016
Nov 21, 2016

What an inspiring message!  Thank you for spreading your kind words and reminding us that this has the potential to be, in your words, "the birth of a movement of women and men who refused to remain silent"

Warmly,

Carrie

Julie Collura
Nov 21, 2016
Nov 21, 2016

Tosin,

Thank you for sharing your eloquent piece. The majority of Americans believe in kindness and tolerance. We know that hearts around the world broke with ours on the night of the election. And we also hear you speaking out in solidarity with us. This is a major blow, and we may be down, but we are not out. Love must win.

Your sister,

Julie

Immaculate Amoit
Nov 23, 2016
Nov 23, 2016

Dear Tosin,

Such a beautiful way of spreading love and kindness raising the voice from a far.Thank you for sending a message of hope and standing with the minority.

Much love and Blessings sis

Mahnaz Harrison
Nov 24, 2016
Nov 24, 2016

Tosin,

You are amazing and I cant wait to have better tools in your hand:)

love

GratitudeGrasshopper
Nov 26, 2016
Nov 26, 2016

Thank you for this. Thank you.

Yamuna Hopwood
Nov 30, 2016
Nov 30, 2016

Thank you, Olutosin, for this piece. As one of many Americans disappointed in this year's presidential election, I appreciate your call for love and unity in such a divisive time in our country. It would do us well to learn from Nigeria, and from the many other states in the world who have been through regimes much worse than the administration that lies ahead. 

Feka
Dec 02, 2016
Dec 02, 2016

No one would have said it better. Great inspiration

Christina
Dec 10, 2016
Dec 10, 2016

thank you for your words of strength. i have been speaking out against Trump since he started. we will fight his dictatorship. hopefully ppl will learn from other countries like yours.