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Don’t blame Nigerians for mourning Kobe Bryant


WHITE PLAINS, NY – FEBRUARY 2: Kobe Bryant Tribute during the Westchester Knicksn v the Long Island Nets NBA G-League game on February 2, 2019 at Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

The news filtered in on Sunday evening when Nigerians were going to bed. Ready to start another hectic week of struggling to get to work early. I am told now that the Traffic situation in Lagos is simply indescribable, not that the present administration is totally handicapped to resolve the situation.

After all, in the first few months of its administration, the Lagos State Government entered into partnerships for more effective use of the waterways as transportation, signing agreements with Uber for our waterways. Also, O – PAY and other Okada or Keke Marwa riding initiatives have been consummated even though the latter again are endangered species as the same Government has banned their activities on selected roads. Still, Nigerians must wake up early on Monday morning to stand any chance of resuming at their desks at 11 am on Monday.

Social media spreads news faster nowadays than back then when we relied on NTA 7 or Channel Ten to see the colorful vertical lines on the screen and the continuous beeping sound which announced the commencement of broadcasts for the day or breaking news. In fact, the successful transitions of government in the last two republics, since 1999 has buoyed our confidence that Breaking News won’t be the announcement of the forceful takeover of Government by the Military. Many news outlets with social media presence broke the news. Daily Mail Online, an otherwise major online UK Platform was one of the very first to send the alert to its subscribers. However, it has been reported that TMZ (reputable to get gossip out first on international celebrities) was the very first to break the news – even before victims of the crash could be identified by authorities. In fact, TMZ was that fast that law enforcement agencies had yet to reach out to the families, informing them formally before the news was broken by TMZ

Such is the power of social media that all traditional newspapers of reputes now boast of online platforms, apps, social media handles, etc. And many “stumbled on the way” of being the first to break the sad news. INSIDER reports of different gaffes by other media agencies in reporting the news: BBC mistakenly used LeBron’s footage to report the story. LeBron was the rave of the moment last week. Epic and surreal that a day before the helicopter crash, LeBron had surpassed Kobe Bryant’s achievements on the all-time scorer chart, it took weeks coming and the excitement was built up to Saturday. One of his very last tweets, Bryant congratulated LeBron for his achievements, moments before the crash. There are other different reasons why the whole world would stand still at this time and for long periods. Bryant was on the ill-fated helicopter with his daughter who also loves the game of basketball and dubbed a rising star, another family of father, mother, and child, other teammates of Bryant’s daughter, coaches, and parents. There were a total of 9 people. Due to the rough terrain of the site of the crash, only three bodies have been found. Even the identities of those found have not been disclosed while the search continues three days after the crash to find other bodies. Meanwhile, the fog blamed for the crash is still hampering continuous search as operations are called off early at night. It is indeed tragic while Kobe Bryant’s family has called it a “black hole”. He leaves behind three other daughters, aged father, and mother, wife and the rest of the basketball-loving world. Of course, and as expected, tributes continue to pour in all over the world. It has been suggested that he would be inducted posthumously into the Basketball Hall of Fame without the usual custom of voting, Italy has declared mourning for a week, NBA matches have been postponed, New York is renaming road signs. It is quite unimaginable, the extents and lengths of several lives touched by the Star through Basketball would go to honor a great man who died aged 41. He is that honorable that any mention of his misdemeanor of 2003 will and has cost people a temporary loss of their jobs!

In all of this, Nigerians too have shown an outpouring of emotions. Bryant has (become activities on his twitter account continues) about 15.5M followers on one account while many other accounts linked to him directly or indirectly have other hundreds of thousands of followers! In the age of social media, on twitter (which is probably a space for more serious businesses), that is a huge following! So, Nigerians, for different reasons and not to be left behind joined the fray. Yours truly only started following the game of basketball less than half a decade ago. While I have fond memories of Hakeem Olajuwon, a Nigerian who shone for Houston Rockets with his towering heights, the more popular for me were Shaquille O’Neal, everyone knows Michael Jordan. I love Step Curry and Golden State Warriors but all these sportsmen had over the years, translated their successes at this game to other fields of endeavor, especially fashion and entertainment. The stats are mind – bugling. Arguably, basketballers are able to translate their fame into investments relating to fashion and entertainment. The Kicks, Trainers, even movies (I remember Space Jam now) are spin-offs and offshoots of basketball success. Michael Jordan is still going strong especially as they continue to give back to society. It just continues to make them famous and relevant. What concerns Nigerians and the sudden tragic death of Kobe Bryant? This essentially is the purport of this piece; especially at a time when the news is rife that Leah Sharibu who has been in terrorists’ captivity for many years, has now been forcefully married to “a Boko Haram Commander” has now been delivered of a baby boy. Leah professed Christianity, was kidnapped along with other Dapcci girls and reportedly refused to renounce her faith which was why she was not released by her captors. Monies changed hands between the government and the terrorists, Leah Sharibu did not change abode.

The security situation in Nigeria has never been this bad, at least coming from the governed. Forget that Femi Adesina, one of the spokespeople for the President chided Nigerians to be grateful that bombings have reduced. The Abuja – Kaduna rail route continues to have its own fair share of criminal activities despite military escort air surveillance, killings continue in the North East despite Government’s efforts to establish a North East Development Commission, our soldiers are now preoccupied with fighting insurgency as if we are fighting a war on the international scene. In fact, the talk is no longer peacekeeping in our continent and for our international military responsibilities where we excelled. We are stretched – thin fighting Boko Haram. You better also don’t bother about different reports from the government asserting that Boko Haram has been technically defeated. Forget that claim was ever made. The Shiites crisis continues, kidnappings and murders all over the country while the South West just woke up to take its security in its hands by posing the AMOTEKUN stance. You may also not want to join the rigmarole going on over the legality or otherwise of that initiative. It looks like it is here to stay anyway. This is so especially because other regions of the country have lent their voices either in support or against the initiative while several other states had established their own “community policing” initiatives before now. AMOTEKUN is a sticky factor as the Southwest bids to occupy the presidency again in 2023.
Many Nigerians are therefore disturbed while others are disgusted on Kobe Bryant “trending” on social media since early Monday morning. Shouldn’t they be more disturbed about recent killings again over the weekend? Wikipedia now has a page showing different classes of killings in the country since 1967 and up till 2019. A look at it would show that it is not up to date. There are killings in Plateau, the Akwa Ibom Cross River clashes, etc. The Christian Association of Nigeria just had its Adamawa State Chairman beheaded a few days ago, ISIS, Boko Haram and Islamic extremists have been fingered in the killings of citizens. Christians believe that the killings are religiously motivated, herdsmen and farmers continue to clash which by the way led to the Ranching and settlement schemes which have now been abandoned, gang clashes in Lagos, Southwest are some of many wanton killings which some Nigerians expect should grieve all of us, not Kobe Bryant’s passing. It is not out of disrespect for these deaths but just to show that at home in Nigeria, the governed and the government have many more issues to mourn about; security or lack of it being just one of those plaguing issues. So why be bothered about Kobe Bryant? Let us attempt to address it.

To be continued tomorrow.

Oyeniji wrote from Lagos.

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AmotekunKobe BryantNBATMZ
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