To imagine oneself in the shoes of others is figurative, yet, it can be as real when you’re walking with a couple hundreds of others like you, who share a single feeling, at the same time, in the same direction, with the same wish. It becomes more real when the feeling shared is that which yearns for freedom.
I have been a part of many selfless advocacies for solidarity and freedom but channeling this zeal towards the liberation of Palestinians, who, in their innocence and innocuousness, have been victims of oppression since the year 1948. A well and devilish orchestrated terrorism fostered by the sanguinary West to see the cleansing of the Palestinians and their homeland, Palestine for Israel.
Monday, the 11th of November, 2019, however, being a national holiday in my country, Nigeria, was a chance to belong with the oppressed citizens of Palestine, through the priceless ‘Walk for peace and freedom’ organized by Muslim Awareness International (MAI), one of Nigeria’s leading civic rights groups.
For me, it was touching! It was personal. Each step reminded me of what it felt like to be alone in tears with no shoulder to cry upon. I have been wrongly accused of stealing before by the perpetrators themselves and no one was there to help me out. No one to help with true analysis and to speak for me firmly that I didn’t do it, that I couldn’t possibly do it and that I never did, even though they knew. No one to confront the accuser who was not only the thief, but the son of a prominent chief in the neighbourhood. My self worth was broken but for Allah. How the truth came to light is not a story for now.
Each step of the walk reminded me of what it means to speak for truth in the face of massive falsehood. It is only someone who has never been wrongly oppressed before, and who didn’t have to hope for truthful witnesses around to be vindicated of accusations, that will stand aloof from a stride as great as this.
It reminded me of what it meant to be alone in the dark night. To stare into the dark sky because there must be no roof to shield you from foreign forces. And when you do as much as slumber in your standing, there is the blitzkrieg of dropping bombs to jolt you back to an unbearable awakening.
During the walk, I doubled as a chant anchor and a correspondent for Muslim News Nigeria. A young man passed by me and asked what we were doing, I gave a brief and he agreed he’d been seeing cases in the news and that he’d listened to what even non-Muslims have said concerning the injustice on Palestinians. He finally said, ‘God punish every type of oppressor’. ‘Amen’ I said, ‘Amen’.
While he spoke, I remembered immediately an address made by a Jewish Professor Norman Frankenstein at the University of Waterloo. He spoke firmly at the discomfort of his Jewish audience that he ‘will not be silenced whenever Israel commits its crimes against the Palestinians!’ He added that he ‘considers nothing more despicable than to use the suffering and martyrdom of the Palestinians to justify the torture, brutalization and demolition of homes that Israel daily commits.’
This and a few others suggest clearly that this sort of walk is not for the Muslims alone. No. Rather, it is for humanity, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It is indeed a call for liberation of the suffering ones in Nigeria, Africa and whole world.
After the walk returned to the National Stadium, Lagos, I was called to give a rendition about Palestine. Though I had grown a sore throat from the pomp I had at the Islamic Education Fair Eko Fm earlier in the week, I sang passionately and was moved to tears. I saw in myself a Palestinian ‘walking like a dead.’ Whenever I said, ‘Gaza’s my home, where well’, I felt chills running down my spine.
I find this walk an exercise to dissociate from all forms of violence perpetrated by unscrupulous sects who may purport as Muslims. It has been made pellucid already that any such groups are only politicallg fostered by fetish countries and politicians. We were all passionately chanting, ‘Muslims are peaceful! Muslims are loving! Muslims are truthful!’ and many others, while passers-by nodded in agreement.
In all, walking through Lagos with a focus on the mainland is just one step in showing belonging to our fellows across the world. We can only supplement our practical will with more advocacy, supplications and financial contributions which followed and which will continue to until freedom is altogether realized.
– Abdul Aleem Ajenifuja Meritborne writes for Muslim News
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