Peter Tosh, I believe, once crooned, “everyman wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die for it.” On face value, those words sound like an absolute truth. Especially, as even Bishops and Pastors, who preach about eternal life in Paradise with Jesus Christ, refute any suggestion, or hurry, to arrive there quickly. Reason, the most popular scripture with Christians is, “I shall not die, but live to declare the works of the Lord(Psalm 118-17) and/ or, “He(Jesus) came that we may have life and have it more abundantly(John 10:10b).”
However, with people who take their lives for religious or nationalist causes, a lie has been put to that dictum. Jihadist suicide bombers, male or female, who dorn the garb of explosives laden vests believe they are arriving Heaven in a burnfire when they offer themselves to die for their faith. Indeed, the males are assured they would have seven virgins to frolic with in Al Janah. I don’t know about the female bombers and how many men await them. But, the fact remains, they die to make heaven.
How about those that lay down their lives for their nation? During World War II, about 3,860 kamikaze pilots were killed, or rather, killed themselves. These were Japanese suicide pilots who attacked Allied warships in the Pacific Ocean during the war. About 19% of kamikaze attacks managed to hit a ship.
Whether they made it, air bone to Heaven is left in the realm of speculation.
Howbeit, even though more people are finding it easy to take their lives or submit to euthanasia, many, many more are afraid of death. As intriguing as the subject is, hundreds of millions dread to even discuss the subject, much more, conceive it happening to them. Methink, realization of this caused the time-honoured quote, ““Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come, ” by William Shakespeare, in his epic tragic play, Julius Caesar.
This is the million dollar question. Why do men get so scared of death? Whence can we flee from its grip? I recall the lavish comic Western movie by Seth MacFarlane, titled, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE. It was delivered as a flaccid all-star farce which space permits no recount here. Just that, the title is eternal fact. There are a million ways to die. So we only run from one to another. How will we ever win this indefinite war between man and death, when there is no room for armistice?
Ebola Virus is the latest death scare in town. It has arrived Nigeria, and the gates of hell seems to have been left ajar. People are apprehensive. The alarm buzzers are blaring with red alert. A major health crisis is on our hands. Ebola, they say, is the most terrible scourge to afflict mankind in the name of disease. Worse still, it has no cure. But we’ve been through this path before. All of man’s history and evolution through the ages, Death has been a sure and purpose-driven reaper.
We run from death in futile hope to escape its reach. Yet, the morgue is overstretched. The undertaker is fully booked. The cemetery is being extended. We shout about onslaught of killer diseases, but we make brisk merchandise of weapons of mass destruction and fight brutal genocidal wars. We must learn the lesson of life. Death is a win-win endgame.
Let’s have a flashback.
Leprosy was the Biblical equivalent for Ebola. It did not end that age.
There was Black Death. One of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people. Believed to be carried by Oriental rat fleas living on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships, it spread throughout the Mediterranean and Europe. It was estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe’s total population in the 14th century. Man overcame it
Until 1928, when bacteriologist, Alexander Fleming, made a chance discovery- a powerful antibiotic, called penicillin, bacteria and staphylococcus plagued man with devastating death. Again, humankind triumphed as Penicillin was described as a miracle drug.
Did we not hype Bird flu, or avian influenza? A viral infection spread from bird to bird. A particularly deadly strain of bird flu, known as — H5N1 –. For this pestilence, we destroyed millions of birds and eggs.
Men placed ban on eating poultry products. We’re still here.
I’m sure you heard of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease. It is a fatal neurodegenerative disease (encephalopathy) in cattle that causes a spongy degeneration in the brain and spinal cord. At its outbreak, United Kingdom, the country worst affected, had more than 180,000 cattle infected and 4.4 million slaughtered during the eradication programme. We abstained from diary products for fear of mad cow disease. Life goes on.
We have been sensitized about the six childhood killer diseases. Poliomyelitis, whooping cough, measles, tuberculosis, tetanus, and diphtheria. We have found vaccines for them to give us immunity from their fatal bite. There was a time malaria, yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis and meningitis were deadly predators. We live on.
HIV Virus has continued to rattle mankind. It has altered the way we make love. Even some wives insist their husbands wear a condom or present a certificate of clearance to enjoy their conjugal rights and vice versa. Despite the rage of HIV Aids, We have not abolished sex. It still beats my imagination why human race is not yet extinct since we discovered this pestilence, which laughably, some say, sin brought upon us. How about the millions of deaths caused by man-made or natural disasters and accidents. Landslides, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, air disasters, shipwrecks, automobile crashes, wildfires are doing their thing, killing hundreds, even thousands in each swoop. What do we say about Murders, homicides, assassinations, extra-judicial and ritual Killings or legal executions? Not to mention terminal illnesses like cancer, failure of the kidneys among others.
So my poser is, whence do we run to from Death and its million agents?
Folks, there’s only one way to conquer death. Scorn it. Don’t live all your life plotting how not to die. As Jesus says, “He who saves his life will lose it, but he who loses his life will save it.”
Trust Nigerians, they are up to it. They make comedy of every otherwise tragic incident. I smile when I read this joke online which I beg to share with you.
“WHAT TYPE OF WAHALA BE THIS SELF EEHN? SEE WHAT “EBOLA” HASCAUSED IN MY AREA
1. Girls no longer hug their guys, the highest they give nowadays is 45¤ instead of the normal 360¤.
2. Guys are now afraid to shake their fellow guys instead they throw way salutes like soldiers.(No be their fault)
3. People now wear long sleeve
sweaters, head covers, and trousers while entering buses and taxi no matter how hot the weather is.. (See as Naija take turn Europe o)..
4. Neighbours, even family members become suspects at the slightest sign of illness..(the one wey nearly make my neighbour go call health officers for me because say I sneeze 2 times today).
5. The aboki that sells suya beside our house dey chop Him suya himself
these days because even the suya is a suspect (Who wan die?)
6. My guy go hospital come dey
complain say body dey do am
somehow an he want to do Ebola
test..Doctor live am run away from d hospital
7. Nigeria Police don’t arrest People by themselves anymore, if You commit any Crime just do the arresting by Yourself.(Just Handcuff yourself come station, use your hand by yourself enter Cell)
8. My friend is no longer dating our Neighbour’s Son called ADEBOLA from Lagos state.”
Another joke is cautionary. “I take God name beg Everyone wey im name get ‘Ebola’ inside e.g. Adebola, Okebola, Orebola, Oyebola, Ojebola, Otebola, Debola etc not to attempt to shake or hug me till further notice. Na beg I take beg o” it says. Folks’, funny joke but serious. All the same, we are still here and grooving.
I understand a stubborn woman who refused to give up a business class seat reserved for a VIP, which she mistakenly occupied, having amn economy class ticket delayed a flight for over an hour. A man later whispered something to the septuagenarian and with the speed of light, she quit the seat and reverted to her place.
When the man was asked how he performed the magic, he replied, “I told her that compartment was meant for an Ebola patient who was about to be brought in. Imagine? For comic relief, former INEC chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu has told the world, bitter kola cures Ebola. Don’t be surprised that soon, it will cost an amputation to be able to buy it in he market. It will soon become more precious than diamond. Never mind, it isn’t clinically proven.
Reality is, something must kill a man. Its a zero-sum-game contest with Death. So, why worry? That’s the Nigerian spirit. It learns to make light of life. As the philosopher Seneca(55BC-37AD), I, being Nigerian, am also firm to say, “I will look upon death or upon comedy with the same eye.” That is what life, even death is- A comedy of errors. Knowing we all shall die is good. As scripture enjoins, in Psalm 90:12, we must all pray God to, “teach us to number our days, so we can apply our hearts to wisdom.
What is wisdom about living or dying?
We learn ot from he words of Circa(1350BCE) who posited; “He hath not spent his life ill, who knoweth to die well. Neither can he have lost all his time, who employeth the last portion of it to his honour. He was not born in vain, who dieth happily. Wouldest thou learn to die nobly? LET THY VICES DIE BEFORE THEE. HAPPY IS HE WHO ENDETH HIS LIFE BEFORE HIS DEATH. WHO WHEN THE HOUR OF IT COMETH, HATH NOTHING TO DO BUT TO DIE; WHO WISHETH NOT DELAY, BECAUSE, HE HATH NO LONGER USE FOR TIME.
AVOID NOT DEATH, FOR IT HATH A WEAKNESS. FEAR IT NOT, THOU UNDERSTANDETH NOT WHAT IT IS. ALL THAT THOU CERTAINLY KNOWETH IS THIS, THAT IT PUTTETH AN END TO THY SORROWS. THINK NOT THE LONGEST LIFE, THE HAPPIEST. THAT WHICH BEST EMPLOYED DOTH MAN THE MOST HONOUR. HIMSELF SHALL REJOICE AFTER DEATH IN THE ADVANTAGE OF IT”
Death! Where is thy sting?