Man’s society is such a blend of the good, the bad and the ugly. Each staring us on the face consecutively or at the same time and in the process, revealing our humanness, our human frailties, weaknesses and foibles. Social realities as we know sometimes if not most times come and fade with the passage of time, with the spirit of a new age and, if perhaps some social realities have been with the existence of man, it is worth mentioning that not all have been rampant or in vogue. These social realities do not exist in isolation; man propels it, he sets it in motion because there is a force in man that will always cause him to make a move, take an action either for his good and the larger society or his fall and the pain of many. We are all aware of tragic and comic situations and relate to such as much as they concern us, and also as much as we can interpret. Both tragedy and comedy are inevitable. It is worth mentioning that as tragedy heightens the existence of man in the face of odds, comedy calms the nerves, the moment. It is like a soothing balm.
Aristotle once said: ” Tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious and complete, of a certain magnitude…it represents men in action rather than using narrative, though pity and fear affecting the proper catharsis of these emotions.” However, the concept of imitation continues to be a polemic issue amongst scholars. My emphasis is on the subject of tragedy as it elicits fear and pity in the life of men both noble and common, Black or White, small or great, male or female, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, Christain or Muslim among others. Tragedy is an I’ll wind that blows no one good. In whatever shape, form or nature it comes, we are either the victims or we share in the pains of others.
For many decades man has continued to wrestle and struggle in the face of oppression, cruelty, social injustice, stratification, class bigotry, inequality, racism, tribalism, corruption, relegation among others and he either dies in the process of vindicating himself against these artificial and man-made structures which are abstract yet revealing, or he retreats and surrender to these powers because for him, no where in-between is freedom, rest, constrain or satisfaction to a longing desire. Therefore, man is always warring right from the time of conception. It is to this effect that I wish to pinpoint some of these social realities that, may never be annihilated because they are institutionalized by man. To say that they have come to stay is an understatement and to speak of man conquering them is an overstatement. They came hand -in -glove with man into this world and as such, man will continue to travail and when he thinks he has prevailed, another states him on the face, right into the eyes. This is our existence.
Africa’s colonial experiences have overtime become history to the people of the world especially those of African descent whose heroes fought the fight and kept the faith. Mother Africa patiently endured the influx of Caucasians who feel superior and as though they were gods.
They came, underdeveloped Africa and without consent, transported our forebears to a continent where they served served as slaves and over time have continuously been haunted. This however, have been approached by a lot of protests and movements asserting the value of Black Lives. In 1903, W.E.B Dubois in his critical work entitled ‘The Souls of The Black Folk asserts that: “The Negro is a sort of seventh son born with a veil and gifted with second sight in this American World- A World which yields him no self consciousness but only lets him see himself through the revelations of other world, it is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at oneself through the eyes of others, of measuring ones soul by the tape of the world that looks on in an amused contempt and pity, one ever feels his twoness-an American, a Negro, two souls, two thoughts, two reconciled striving, two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn apart”. This has been the story of Black Americans over years. It is like a fire set having brimstone in it- it never quenches.
I remember my Secondary school days when I was precisely in JS1. One day, my social studies teacher treated a though I cannot really remember vividly what topic it was but it had something to do with colonialism. After teaching, she sang a song which I have never forgotten; it says ” Hey, you Black monkey, get on board. You think I’m joking? get on board! You think I’m laughing? get on board….!” The life of the black man has been tragic. It is to this effect that mention should be made of the recent death of an African- American- George Floyd whi was killed by a White policeman on May 25,2020. This incident elicits fear and pity because our pity is awakened by undeserved misfortune and our fear by that of someone just like ourselves- You could be the next!
On the 30th of May, 2020, although this has been a custom, Nigerians especially those of Igbo descent had a solemn feast so to speak to remember the struggle and deaths of 3million Biafrans whi died in the Nigerian- Biafra Civil War of 1967 through 1970. Whether the Republic of Biafra should be reinstated, whether you stand or support the course of Biafra or not, or you stand for one Nigeria is a subject of debate in its own. The point being that, tragedy struck Biafran’s and after the Civil War, the Igbo’s from he Eastern part of Nigeria have continued to struggle and fight profusely if not vehemently in a country that has relegated them to the background. The average igbo man suffers from tribalism wherever he goes in this Country- Nigeria, he is sidelined from the scheme of things and for these reasons he has continued to cry out for freedom. His tragedy is that which all Igbo’s in general can relate with in a feat to redeem ” The Land of The Rising Sun”.
When Aristotle spoke about tragedy,he referred to man in particular, and to what nature of man, that is what his society defined- the noble man. Modern scholars who believe that there have been a shift in literary thrust admits to Aristotle’s concept of tragedy but then, it should include the tragedy of the common man, pointing out that, tragedy is common to man irrespective of status quo. He society is not oblivious of the concept of rape, sexual molestation, unconsensual assault on mostly the girl child. This is not in a feat to support the idea or concept of matriarchy or feminism in anyway or to strike a straw about the high rate of female molestation. A lot of men or rather the male child have been physically abused but the trend is not to be compared with the physical and psychological sexual assault if the female child. This too is not to promote the concept of patriarchy but to point out explicitly that sexual harassment are carried out by men on men ( man in the generic sense) and each event, incident or situation shows our vulnerability in the face of odds, a kind of looming evil that keeps hovering about. Does not tragedy include rape? The whole experience elicits fear and pity upon the receiver of such hideous act and society in general takes the perpetrator(s) of such an action, causing such and his entire generations unborn. This brings me to the rape and murder of Vera Omozuwa, a 22 year old student of UniBen, who was raped. Whether her father did not concent to her staying back in school like she wanted or that she was in an intimate relationship with two roommates as news have it; because there will always be hearsay.
The truth and the fact remains that: Uwa Omozuwa was raped, secondly, in a Church Auditorium ( these bastards don’t even fear God) and lastly by four hoodlums. This is indeed a dastardly act that demands strong protest and execution of these gangsters. This situation is tragic. It purges us of our emotions. As long as we continue to live in this world if embattlement, we are the casualties. As John Pepper Clark rightly puts it: ” the casualties are not only those who are dead; they are well out of it. The casualties are not only those who are wounded, though the await burial by installment. The casualties are not only those who have lost persons, or property, hard as it is…the casualties are not only those led away by night; the cell is a cruel place, sometimes a haven…the casualties are not only those who started a fire and now cannot put it out. Thousands are burning that had no say in the matter. The casualties are not only those who escaping the shattered shell becomes prisoners in a fortress of fall walls. Tha casualties are many, and a good number well outside the scenes of ravage and wreck….” We are all casualties.
Chigozirim Miracle Nwaosu.