From time immemorial men and women have marched for or against one thing or another. One of the most famous rallies in Africa was the Soweto student uprising. on June 16, 1976, ftfteen thousand students gathered at Soweto township of south Africa to protest the then Apartheid governmentâ's policy on the education of Africans. Without any warning a detachment of policemen confronted this army of earnest school children and opened fire, killing thirteen year old Hector Pieter son and many others. the children fought with sticks and stones ,the events of that day reverberated in every town and township of south Africa. Those heroes of Soweto were marching for equal rights to education and they got it at last.
Another rally that captured the interest of the world, took place at the same Soweto township stadium on the 10th of June 1990.over 2 million people converged in solidarity with their leader Nelson Mandela who was released after serving a prison sentence of 27 years so his people can be free. That rally was a justifiable one, for any leader who sacrifices 27 years of his life for his people deserves to be celebrated.
It is unfortunate that here in Nigeria, the concept of rally is viewed differently. this might not be unconnected to the fact that out of the 49 years since our independence only 11 years were spent in an undisrupted democracy. The first 1 million men March our generation know is that of late General Sani abacha. Going by the recent happenings it is obvious that the real solidarity behind rallies has been reduced to a mere charade, just like that of Abachaâ's days when civil servants and other ordinary citizens were lured to Abuja for a rally that claimed a lot of lives.
The one million youth march organized and celebrated in kebbi state on 29th may has raised a lot of questions that need to be answered by the organizers. Most states of the federation celebrated the democracy day with commissioning of projects such as roads, schools, hospitals and other capital intensive and people oriented projects. Why was it different in kebbi state or are there no projects to commission?
I hail from one of the most remote villages of kebbi state my people are still drinking from the great river Niger, where my great grand father drank from due to the lack of portable drinking water. They are still relying on wick lanterns as their source of lightening when the night falls. they too asked the question; what were the youths marching for?
When the civil servants of kebbi state that spent 3 months waiting for the ultimate E-payment which shall determine if they were ghost workers or not before they could receive their salary and feed their families heard of the march, they too asked the same question ;what were the youths marching for?
The fact that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow does not mean they should allow themselves to be used as agents of deception, for by marching in solidarity wit of a non existent development they have sold for a toke fee the integrity of the leaders of tomorrow.
I too like others before me, will like to ask the youths who converged on kebbi for that rally at Birnin kebbi; comrades what were you marching for?