Christianah Oluwasesin was lynched by secondary school students in Gombe in 2007 who accused her of desecrating the Qur'an. She was invigilating an exam. The kids carried expo. She snatched it from them. It was the Qur'an.
Grace Ushang was raped and murdered in 2009 in Maiduguri for wearing trousers - Khaki trousers that was issued to her by the Nigerian state for NYSC!
Before them all, there was Gideon Akaluka - beheaded in Kano in 1995 for desecrating the Qur'an.
Gideon Akaluka, Grace Ushang, and Christianah Oluwasesin were all murdered in broad daylight. One, Grace Ushang, for wearing a uniform issued to her by her fatherland.
They all died before the advent of social media. The Nigerian state treated all three cases the Nigerian way: grudging condemnation, a few statements of regret here and there. No arrests.
In Nigeria, time is our most potent tool for investigating murder. Give it a few weeks and we roll on. The Nigerian authorities understand this perfectly well.
Ask the police in Kano, Gombe, and Maiduguri about these three Nigerians and the Police Commissioners may need to look for piles of paper cyclostyled on Gestetner machines - if such has not long been sold to Suya sellers. I bet that none of these three commissioners has ever heard of these three cases because the statute of limitation on murder is roughly one week in Nigeria. One week if nothing else happens...
I have given this background to those who, as usual, are starting to police how people are venting and mourning this latest assault on our national sensibilities.
It is true that I have read a lot of anti-north bigotry in people's reactions.
It is true that Islam - the genuine and her murderous photocopy - are receiving a heck of a bashing by those not in the mood for fine distinctions right now.
But before you rave and rant and bash those who have given in to the basest instinct on the reaction lane, please stop and take a look at the severed head of the latest victim.
I am saying this because you will not be allowed - at least not in my space - to somehow brush past the victim, the victim's family, the lack of justice for a long line of victims similarly beheaded or lynched on account of a particular faith in the last three decades - no sir, you will not be allowed to brush past all of these to whine about those who are misrepresenting your faith and the north.
I am not justifying the sort of ignorant criminalizing of a north and an Islam that have been rendered monolithic in the hands of angry and frustrated bashers. But you, gatekeeper of faith and culture, will not be allowed to play the victim, and the injured here like you always do.
I am yet to hear pim from the Emir of Kano for instance. Yet, here is a man who is very quick to his keyboard on listservs once he feels the need to hide behind culture to defend certain practices- practices he defends verbally in cockney!
May the latest victim remind Nigerians and Nigeria that we are still waiting for answers and justice for Gideon Akaluka, Christanah Oluwasesin, and Grace Ushang.
May the gatekeepers who always get on the defensive remember that those who lash out at their faith in frustration after these routines of murder are not the problem. The problem is a certain gangrene within the faith that must be stamped out.
And we must also understand that no amount of venting and viralizing and shaming on social media will work because the mob ready to behead in Kano, ready to stone in Sokoto, etc. are not in these spaces.
Widespread advocacy in Hausa on TV, on radio, during preaching by imams in mosques, etc. , is the answer. This is where the help of the northern establishment is required. The airwaves of the north should be suffused in advocacy. Even Kannywood has a huge role to play. Yoruwood does a lot of advocacy against social ills. In the middle of your favorite Yoruba film, you just see your favorite Yoruba actor speaking out against a particular social il, and sometimes you hear that such a message was sponsored by a particular state government.
Get Kannywood actors and actresses to speak out in scripted messages inserted into films. The Emir of Kano and the Kano state Governor can pay for some messages. That is not asking too much.
Get musicians all over the north involved.
If you are on social media and you feel that your culture and your religion and your geopolitical space is being unfairly targeted by those who do "not understand our religion," I hear you but, like I already said, you cannot get past the victim here.
Channel your anger and frustration into helping us with the sort of advocacy I have listed here. Carry a bullhorn, go to the market in Kano and make appeals in Hausa in favor of the true Islam, which proposes peace and abhors violence.
You would have done your part.