The Spirit of Manchester
By Denrele Animasaun
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Terror once again, visited the UK shores, this time in the north of the country, in a city called Manchester. The messenger of doom was a young British-born Libyan. From the information shared with the public by the authorities, it seemed that he became radicalised over a period of time, worrying enough for his mother to show concerns and reported her son to the authorities so he has been on the authorities’ radar for some time.
The carnage was devastatingly horrific; he blew himself up along with 22 people most of the dead were young people or parents who had come to pick up their young charge after concert ended and the injured numbered over 116. The music concerts was well attended with thousands and thousands of people who had come to enjoy the music and were about leaving the event hall at the end of concert when tragedy hit. This man had every intention of causing maximum fatalities.
Let me be clear here; this was so tragic and there is never any justification to such horrors, taking of innocent lives wherever and whenever, it may be, especially by those with some deranged ideologies, wrapped up in some nassistic belief of saving religious beliefs and hell bent on causing deaths and life changing injuries cannot and should not be tolerated and condoned.
We bear witness to this every day and sometimes, one may feel detached from such everyday disasters, because it does have a direct impact one’s life or surroundings. Right now we can no longer think this way anymore, if it affects one group of people, it affects us all. We can no longer wring our hands or shrug our shoulders because it was someone else’s problem.
When Chibok girls became an international concern we got result, this is what happens when we become each other’s keeper. Otherwise, it serves people who want to separate humanity and create mayhem that we are divided. This is why these deranged people do it in the first place if we do not care.
We did not get here today, we got here because of some political ambition to rule and conquer. Governments import war to far flung areas and sit comfortable because they reason that they are preventing future horrors within their shores. What they have done instead, they could have narrowed the gap of disadvantaged, disenfranchised, the vulnerable and the poor rather they choose to spend money on buying arms and weapons to kill and maim innocent people across the world and displace people, create refugees and unstable government. Our politicians and sections of the media are responsible for spreading and perpetuating terror. So it is rich when they want to pretend otherwise.
The people that commit these crimes of terror are not religious and they are senseless murderers who have never achieved anything for humanity nor will they by taking their lives and that of others.
Of course, the aftermath of the bombing, like the other times before, these terrorists who peddle their hatred always try to justify the unjustifiable and they fail to realise that hate never build anything good and that good people will always see through them. Thank goodness this restores the good in humanity.
Of course, other section of the community will always have ulterior and political motive to jump on the opportunity to divide the people into good and evil. They will lay the blame squarely on Muslims and foreigners as the young man they reason is Muslim and his family is British. They fan the embers of hate and prejudice; they tar a whole religion and people on the heinous activities of a small number mindless and nefarious nonentities and miscreants. They also expect a whole religion and the followers to apologise always for these callous acts.
As a Muslim, Nigerian and a black woman, I know from experience that you are conditioned to feel ashamed for the crimes of people who share your nationality, race or religion for their crimes. The shame sticks as the finger of blame is always pointed at your direction for what you have no hand in nor would you ever engage in.
The shame goes deeper than that: you feel that you have to apologise on behalf of ‘your people’ these people who you do not know, and not likely that you know them or to share the same views or morality but you are expected to be held responsible for their crimes or indiscretions. The section of the media seizes the opportunity to divide and scapegoat and marginalise a group of people because of shared religious or racial traits.
There is nothing worse than feeling guilty by shared religious and racial traits. It is shame that goes more than skin deep and it makes people want to prove that they are not like ‘them’ and no matter what one does, there are people who will continue to hold you responsible.
The burden is heavy and psychological and the more people feel more segregated and discriminated against, so it further puts a wedge between communities and the cycle repeats itself and a cycle of mistrust and hatred continues. I have found out long ago, I am responsible only for my actions and nobody else. And I will always practise compassion regardless of what other people think or expect or not expect. I cannot lose sleep over people’s preconceived ideas of how they see me or expect me to behave. But I am responsible for the way I react to their bigotry and prejudice.
I know I was taught to be compassionate and be as neighbourly whether people can see it or not. Likewise as black person, I know that a section of the society expects me to be responsible for every black person who acts out of norm or involved in any criminal activities. It makes me feel that you have been judged and they do not know you.
You realise that as a black person, you are not expected to expect the same from non-black person and, of course, do not expect them to be responsible for every non-black person’s crimes and misdeed but if the boot was on the other foot, it is a different ball game.
The people of Manchester were remarkable in their resolve, they refused to cower instead, there was a show of togetherness if this wanna be terrorist was hoping to cause terror and disaccord, he failed spectacularly. The Manchurian spirit its pure northern grit and if you wrong one person, you wrong them all.