By Abdullahi D. Hassan
For centuries, the word Death has been viewed according to civilizations, faiths and isms. Death is the only attribute a person must undergo regarding social status or wretchedness, from the recorded history of Homo Sapiens to the present age. Humans face all sorts of challenges that cease the existence of life and body. Thus, some individuals meet their end via natural causes.
Death is a threshold; disunite a magnetic love between children and parent, decouple chemistry among spouses and reflect mourning on a follower’s mind over the demise of a good leader. Yet, for ages, no one returns from such a journey to testify for the living souls. So, how is life in purgatory?
We read and write biographies and memoirs of late people to adjudge their erstwhile accomplishments, either good or harmful to society. Statues were erected for the commemoration and monumental projects named after great people across walks of life.
The first death that shook my nerves terribly happened two decades ago in Jos, North Central, Nigeria. Then, the two Abrahamic faiths were involved in a brutal religious conflict. Both the Muslims and Christians kill indiscriminately for futile and dogmatic intuition. The dreadful scene is yet to skip my memory.
Two people, a man in his blooming age and an adolescent girl, were caught by the militia mob. They received intense attacks from all directions. Finally, one of the zealots struggled the man down, poured fuel on him, and ignited the lighter. The girl cries in a harrowing pitch, pleading in Hausa, “Dan Allah, kada ku kashe mu! Yaya ne,” meaning, I’m begging you in God’s name, don’t murder my brother. He was cremated alive to ashes. I don’t know what happened to his sister. If I hear any narratives about death, murder and genocide, my mind abruptly recalls the barbaric nostalgia.
In 1888, a French newspaper published an obituary headline entitled ‘The Merchant of Death is Dead’ erroneously confused Alfred Nobel instead of his brother, Ludwing Noble, who died on his visit to Cannes. Alfred Noble amassed a huge fortune by selling explosives used in wars. The story went viral across Europe, and critics were happy over his death. He wrote in his will, “those who, during the preceding years, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind”. The Prize was established in Chemistry, Literature, Medicine, Physics and Peace. The Nobel Prize has been awarded to great thinkers, policymakers, leaders, advocates, activists, and international organizations for over a century. From 1901 to 2020, 962 became Nobel laureates.
Mikhail Kalashnikov, the world’s deadliest inventor of AK-47, designed the assault rifle used by the Soviet Army in 1949. His horrendous automatic weapon soldiers hold for wars to kill enemies at the battleground. Warlords, like Charles Taylor, trained child soldiers to torture, kill and rape women. AK-47 is the weapon of choice by Jihadists in terrorist activities. In 2007, a statue of Kalashnikov was displayed in Moscow. Vladimir Putin described him as “a symbol of the creative genius of our people”. He wrote a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church saying, “the pain in my soul is unbearable. I keep asking myself the same unbearable question: If my assault rifle took people’s lives, that means I am responsible”.
The two famous men, Alfred Nobel and Mikhail Kalashnikov, destabilized human sanity and championed cruelty. Noble is an antithesis of knowledge and rational thinking to wedge vacuums in scholarship for the benefit of humanity. For instance, in 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology-Medicine was awarded to Robert Edward for curing infertility and IVF discovery. And also, Paul Crutzen won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the breakthrough in studying the ozone layer and climate change.
On the other hand, Kalashnikov’s invention is the anathema of the world’s suffering. Especially, Global South countries, some 800,000 Tutsi villages were slaughtered with machetes and AK-47 in Rwanda alone. His unwanted weapon caused more havoc worldwide than any assault rifle from the 20th century to this millennium.
Death is the key to life. Since we were born, we have escaped many channels to survive. Some die at the neonate stages; others pass from adolescence to the peak moment of life. Some took their life by themselves as a result of karma or tiredness to continue living in a dying condition and hopeless dreams. But, no matter what it takes, one day, we must die by a slight obstruction unbeknown to us or evident.
Lastly, change your storyline as Alfred Nobel does if you are not dead. Not insincere lamentation of Mikhail Kalashnikov’s conviction to write a letter to the religious leader. Who is not a God rather tutelage of religion? If your close relatives display selfishness like Kevin Carter, it is not too late for his attention and legacy changes.
Abdullahi is a freelance journalist and writer. He will be reached via Abdulbaffah@gmail.com.