Wednesday, May 31, 2017

On getting used to mass murder and suicide bombers

Leye - Every other Wednesday


80 dead. 350 wounded. Kabul, Afghanistan. Today.

23 dead. 116 injured. Manchester, England. 22nd of May, 2017.

30 dead. 40 injured. Baghdad, Iraq. 30th of May, 2017.

In each of these cases, the count of dead includes the suicide bombers responsible for the mass murders.

These are just three out of thirty-one terrorist incidents in May of this year alone.

I was going to write about governance when Kabul flashed on my phone. I was going to rant on how strange it is that countries, populations of millions, choose or endure one human being to lead them. One ruler. One person with ultimate responsibility for everyone else. I was going to propose what I’ve coined, Agile Governance, and I was going to start my argument from my observation of how the Nigerian state continues to exist even the absence of the President. I wish him full recovery from his undisclosed ailment. He is in London getting treated for something that till today is being kept secret.

And of course, I was going to touch on Trump in my rant. He, more than any other leader, more than President Buhari of Nigeria whose ill health does not tarnish his good intentions as a ruler, he, Donald Trump, is the perfect reason for countries to rethink choosing one individual to rule over them all.

But Kabul flashed on my phone screen and I stopped.

I have become used to this. To numbers. Eighty. Twenty. Twelve. One hundred. To violent, needless loss of human lives reduced to digits. To suicide bombers. I have become numb.

I think of the dead each time, but my mind hardly bothers with the wounded - until they are dead in the news updates, then they shift sides in the statics and they too get from me a pause. A pause and no more. And I move on.

I continue with whatever it was that I was doing before; writing, eating, chilling, dreaming, howbeit with noticeable quietness, like a subconscious minute’s silence.

But not today.

Today I stopped.

Suddenly, my Trump rant didn’t seem as innocuous as I hope (and I take it for granted) my rants to be. Today I asked myself again, ‘What makes a person strap a bomb to their body?’

I have my theories, there are many, and there are many more that are not mine but that are sound and have merit in their arguments, but who can tell what’s on another person’s mind as they bury their child, bend torn-off branches to build a fence along where they suspect the mines are, watch their parents dragged off to be executed for not saying prayers to the right God, live through another air raid, strap a bomb suit to their body.

Who can tell what’s on my mind as I’m writing this? Who, expect me, can know my true motives? Who, even hearing my motives from my mouth, spoken truthfully and with every intention to be truthful, can be sure that I have been truthful first to myself before attempting to be truthful with them? Who can know the mind of another? No one.

So I do not wish to know the mind of the suicide bomber, because I cannot know his mind. Or her mind. But still I wonder, why? Why, despite the billions spent and the intelligence gathered, why has the War on Terror failed? Quite evidently it has failed, it is failing now, and from all indications, it will continue to fail. Why?

Next week in the UK we are going to have a general election. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, speaking after the Manchester attack, claimed that there is a link between “wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home.”

I don’t know if he’s right, but I know I want to try something other than what we have always done. Something other than giving other people freedom by bombing them. I want to get ‘unused’ to numbers of dead and injured. I want to feel again.  And that is why I’m voting Labour.


  1. Bravo, Leye. I needed this! I started over a year ago, to watch the data on terrorist attacks. I posted the flag of every nation that suffered an attack on my Facebook page, with the information about the number lost. I was doing this after the attack on Paris, not because the Parisian horror wasn't important to me, but because the outpouring over that attack was so much greater then the response to even greater losses in let's call them exotic places. In my mind it was important for me to leave that flag and the losses of those human beings up on my page for three days before I posted anything else. I stopped doing it because they were were so few days left for anything else. And like you, I had become numb, because I just couldn't keep on thinking about it anymore.

    These times are just soul sinking. It helps me a great deal when I hear another voice express this pain and this urgency for the human race to find a better way to be. Thank you.

  2. I'm voting Corbyn too. I was in London at the height of the IRA bombing campaign of the early 80's. I was, only mildly, touched by that carnage. Corbyn is being vilified for 'supporting the IRA' when in fact he signed document after document condemning their acts of violence BUT he did do a very brave thing, and get them round the table and started the negotiations that have led to 30 years of peace. Meanwhile Mrs May is being applauded for shaking hands with the Saudi leaders, the people we sell huge amounts of armaments to mmmm.
    Todays poll shows he is now three points behind. We can hope.

  3. I don'l know where all this is headed, but one thing I know for certain: massacres in some parts of the world gather far greater western news coverage than others. That strikes me as a subliminal (at best) recognition of attitudes in serious need of adjustment.

  4. Lovely that May shook hands with the Saudi leaders when they are using U.S. weapons and intelligence to bomb the heck out of Yemen. Cholera is spreading there. Many people can't get food.

    Not to mention the lack of civil, human or women's rights inside Saudi Arabia. People go to jail for protesting, women can't do anything without a guardian, etc.

    I'd vote for Corbyn if I were in Britain.

    But when discussing massacres, I have to think of wars and what they're doing; 122 civilians in Mosul killced by an air strike, villagers killed in the dropping of the U.S.'s biggest nonnuclear bomb, etc., etc.

    I grieve for all the innocent civilians killed by this violence. And children? Whether in Manchester or in Yemen, Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, their lives matter.