The shuttered prison, by Uthman Shodipe-Dosunmu


Silence. An eerie gloom. Nothing stirred in slightest animation. Nothing perceived in rousing humanity. There is but that prevalent un-naturalness everywhere.

There is desolation and fear. There is that grip of sombrous bereavement in the neighborhoods and in the alleys, on the streets, on the roads, in the boulevards and on the stretches of asphalt that spanned the bridges.

From my virginal provenance at Oke – Olowogbowo on the western limits of Lagos Island to the lagoon, the swamps, the streams of Ẹpẹ and far into the solitary reaches of Ikorodu- there is a universal awareness of vacancy; a bewildering nudging of loss and aberrational hugeness. All is empty, vacated like a hapless desert.

We are all shuttered because of some alien scourge, imported to our shores from the furthest unknown of an ancient land.

Here the arbiters of power are voided of any contemplative engagement, benumbed and thoughtless, incapable of enlightened grapple with the alien foe.

They just shut us down in dark, grim imprisonment; captives of little rudderless men swamped in transient might and power, presuming themselves masters of the hour while starvation, silent anger, wretchedness, exhaustion, the crude unknown, the variegated uncertainties roam my orphaned state.

From the palaces of wealth to the impoverished abodes of the luckless, the abandoned; there is that huge hovering of some auguries pregnant with a widening cloudiness only the heavens can fathom.

They cry from all corners, from all stripes , from all origins ; echoing the same shrieks of woe as the ravages of hunger benumb their common humanity.

The thoughtless arbiters who had decreed a Shutdown to prevent deaths are unwittingly inflicting a more ruthless dispensation crueler than death. Better to die in dignity than to pine and waste away in slow agonizing misery.

Pray, where is the necessary succour, the ameliorative necessities to cushion the furies of the moment. They lie, they cheat, transforming the general misfortunes into a bazaar

From the neighborhood urchin to the bus driver, the struggling teacher, the unpaid journalist, the hustler at the Marina, the destituted lawyer, the abject professors whose wages have been seized, the market women whose means of survival are capriciously deprived and a thousand more whose survival are abrupted by the caprice of power- there is that uniform reduction of humanity. There is that shattering deprivation. There is that universal shrieks of woe, the sickening consciousness of helplessness and being flung into solitary wandering.

In this dark hour, in this monstrous present, those who should speak to power in animated storm and fury have chosen the safe haven of silence and cowardly mutedness. Those who should intervene with their talent and might have withdrawn into a deliberate closet of the unseen, the unspoken , woven in selfishness and crude personal preservation.

And yet the hunger, the sweeping demoralisation, the distortion of normalcy, the vast aberrational license continue to disfigure our common humanity.

Those who speak not, those who choose the refuge of silence and the “averted gaze” will not be well remembered when the accounting of history and the judgement of heaven must come.

And as for the obviously complicitous, the conniving collaborators with evil, the odious abettors of our common ruin , they are invariably fated in ignominy. Their destruction is certain. Their un-mournful end, like the caudillos of old, is long decreed by the heavens.

Pray, where are the despots of yore ? Where is Genghis Khan, ? Where is Attila the Hun ? Where is Kubla Khan ? Where is Timur of Asia ? Where is Mussolini, Hitler and all the thronging tyrants of ancient Hindu who believed in delusional perpetuity not knowing but they were mere ephemeral dots upon the boundless heavens.

The other day methinks I saw a ghoul of a man, the delusional usurper believing in some eternal conquest, feigning an appropriation of heaven and earth, but certainly a fading apparition; a defeated and lost soul still pretending relevance when the game is over.

I have done my part. I have chosen to stand with the trampled and the weak. They may send their goon squad and mad men. They may unveil their bayonet , the dungeon and the stakes. But can they eviscerate the will of heaven ?

*Prince Uthman Shodipe-Dosunmu is the Oloriekun of Olowogbowo.


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