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The lasting fight

“If unity is sought through struggle, it will live but if unity is sought through yielding, it will perish.” Those were the memorable words of Chairman Mao Ise Tung, the legendary leader of the Chinese people.

If there is a replacement of the word “unity” with the words “justice” or “equality”, it will not be doubted that  through the ages, a long time of believers in the Maoist prescription of struggling and living as against yielding and perishing has emerged.In a country that is politically crippled, economically incapacitated and socially disorientated and as regards justice it has hit the rock of Gibraltar. The struggle against injustice is a burring issue which has elicited much concern and won approbation from many people. If is evident that our contemporary society is ablaze with injustices, inequalities and this reflects the inordinate greed and selfishness of human beings.

 Those who have abundant privileges want more, even at the expense of the poorest of the poor. But what is wrong with that? Some ask when the words of scriptures say that those who have, more will be added to them and those who do not have even the little that they have will be taken away from them, what does that mean? However, good upbringing, education and the appreciation of higher values have been able to moderate in many human beings these ignoble aspects of man. But the permanent cure for these vices is yet to come.  It is a known fact that history as a potent re-incarnate does not always appear in a familiar garb and this is the raison d’etre for which analysts are sought to help position today in the canvass of yesterday. Though this is life, there have always been injustices through out history leading man to distinguish himself as an out-spoken critic of it and a fighter against it. He needs no syllogistic conclusion to be convinced that legislation can eradicate this vice autonomously and in some unfortunate epochs, these critics become activist or even revolutionists considering the fact that radical alteration are called for.

A close look at Nigeria will give a testimony to this, The international system is today filled with condemnations of Nigeria and its regime over several cases of encroachment on the right of other people – injustices. To mention but one was the killing of Kenule Beeson saro-wiwa, the controversial Apo killings of able –bodied young men. In October 1995 Abacha lifted the ban on political activity, promised a transfer to civilian power in 1998, and later allowed five parties to operate. However, he continued his repression of dissidents, the most notorious instance of which was the hanging of writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists in November 1995. Saro-Wiwa and his fellow dissidents were critics of the oil industry, which had brought a range of environmental ills to their Ogoni homeland in the Niger Delta. The government dubiously accused the activists of murdering government supporters, gave them a hasty, unfair trial, and executed them. The Abacha government imprisoned many people, among the most prominent being former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former vice president Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (who died in prison in December 1997), and the 1993 president-elect, Moshood Abiola. Other prominent Nigerians, including Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, fled into exile. The execution and imprisonment of opponents and other violations of human rights “Greedy politicians are literally killing their own people by stealing the money for health care, for schools, for clean water, for everything the state should provide its people,” said Sola Adeyeye, a member of Nigeria’s national assembly who once served as a local government chairman.

Amidst this gory comedy of errors, can justice be restored? For all I know, no fighter of injustice really dies with his ideas and accomplishment as buttressed by John Mbiti in one of his books: “No one really dies until he has been completely forgotten”. Though Roman Catholic Church has been characterized in modern times by strong positions on some controversial issues. Beginning with the encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) of Pope Leo XIII, the popes have consistently decried the injustices of the economic and social conditions created by modern industrial societies and proposed remedies for them. They have denounced nuclear warfare, repeatedly urged an end to the arms race, and sought to halt the exploitation of poor nations by rich ones.

The protection and promotion of basic human rights in the social, economic, and political orders have been central to these pronouncements. In Latin America some Catholic intellectuals have developed a new theology, known as liberation theology, to address these concerns. However, it is not very possible to wipe off injustices from the face of the earth. For how can one fully realize his rights without infringing on the rights of other people? To say this does not imply any kind of skeptical attitude towards the reality of justice. It is rather the recognition of the fact that perhaps the world will be a very boring place.

If there is no injustice to fight against and no critic to fight it. The fact however remains that the world earns its equilibrium by government enacting laws to curb the curbable and by the world producing men courageous enough to defy these laws and make their point either peacefully or otherwise. In the case of Nigeria, what then is the way out? Certainly not through any quixotic challenge to the rest of the world nor is it through the costly theater of hiring jobless men and women for pro-government demonstrations. It is a lasting fight permanently on focus and great indeed is that man who in the course of this fight accepts his errors, duly apologizes and makes amends for them.      


1.     News-watch Magazine May 24, 1993

2.     Tell Magazine No. 48 November 27, 1995   

3.     The leader vol. XLV no.14 July 25 2004

4.     Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2008. © 1993-2007 Microsoft Corporation

5.     Stumpf S.:   Philosophy History and Problem.  Mc Graw Ltd., Sixth edition, 20036. Solomon R.:       A short History of Philosophy. Oxford Press, London, 1996


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