By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju
The question on the lips of those who are well bred, always is; how did we get here? I found the answer earlier this year. We got here because many stopped training their children. We got here because our cherished values were not transferred to the next generation. We got here because many parents reared their children like goats; leading them to food, clothing and shelter. Nothing more. Any kind of teaching and training were left to teachers while they engage in relentless pursuit of the “I beta pass my neighbor” strategy.
While growing up in rural Southwest, I was taught never to mock the disabled, or men and women ravaged by old age. The fable was that the disability would be transfered immediately! I believed it then. Many of us children believed it. We believed it so much we never laughed nor imitate any disability. Some rascally ones who did were often chastised and reported. Our nightly folkloric tales were full of such anecdotes. We revered the aged because they were the custodians of our traditions. Our history was engraved in their brains. They were the custodians of our songs, events, culture, tradition, mores, and ethos. Their legs may be ravaged by arthritis, face misshapen by stroke, back bent from back breaking work of their youth. We loved them as they were. We loved aging so much that we celebrate age grade festivals every seven years as we moved up. Moving into adulthood was a big deal because we were not Àbíkú or Emèrè. Moving into the last Cadre of septuagenarians and older, was and still is a special event because many must have died before that age. We know getting old is a privilege. I recall that small stuff like Guinea worm (now eradicated) crippled and eventually made some people succumb to death.
As television gained ground, I started seeing caricatures of the disabled being peddled in theater productions and movies. Self-styled comics took it further by shaming people with Down’s syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, calling them imbeciles.
The pictures of General Ibrahim Babangida below has been going round in the last few days. So many people were having a mockery feast of him. I was appalled and again it validated the systemic nature of Nigeria’s rot. Babangida is 77, many who are mocking him will never be seventy. Actually, many of them will be lost to Tramadol, Rohypnol or Crystal Meth before 40. Babangida was president at 44, many who are mocking him are only using social media as an escape from their worries and torments. Many won’t be anything of note at 44. Babangida was president. Only a few will have that honor in their lifetime.
Be it arthritis, sciatica, or stroke, the pictures below is the picture of decline and anatomical changes due to aging. After the age of youth, mankind will gradually waste away until death comes. It is natural. It is a fact that some are blessed more than others in every sphere of life. That fact applies to aging as well. After 40, the bell begins to toll. Those who are mocking Babangida will receive sense after that age that is if they are lucky to attain that age. Babangida is lucky. He bucked the trend in a country where life expectancy is 54.
I don’t take kindly to this kind of pathological thoroughfare. If I see any of my friends engaged in this kind of mockery or if they curse people out or insult them on their timelines, I unfriend them before they bring their pathology to my wall.
Do not tell me Babangida is one of those who brought us into this predicament. That is not the topic.