How did humanity get so lost ?

Saturday 1447 – 3rd November 2012.

The start of my second year of blogging on 1500 Saturdays and I had intended to start with something cheerful but I’m sorry to say that is not going to be the case at all. I was deeply affected by a video I watched today and I mean DEEPLY.

To say it disturbed me would be the biggest of understatements.  I felt tremendous anger and sadness. I wept as I watched and felt my very humanness threatened. 

So why did I watch it?  because to bear witness to something terrible, to human beings doing something terrible to other human beings is to honour the truth and know it will never be forgotten.

Be Forgotten

I felt a light go out in me today and I couldn’t get it relit. Everything seemed pointless and I could concentrate on nothing. I couldn’t take photos, or edit them. I couldn’t meditate or find any peace.  Those who regularly follow my blog will have seen that I want to make a difference in this world, with kindness and compassion. I don’t want to leave without trying to make it a better place but can I really do that?

I question that now.. maybe humanity is designed to be cruel after all; designed to kill or be killed.  I don’t want to believe it but it is hard not to after what I saw today.  It is easy in my comfortable Western,Well-fed, Ivory Tower to pontificate on compassion and love being all that is needed to change the world but what do I know of what is REALLY happening in other parts of the world?  What do any of us know?

I’m sure you are wondering by now what it is that can have had such an effect on me.  Well I was catching up with some of my favourite blogs early this morning as I am rather behind with my reading. I started with Love Versus Goliath, written by a lovely Australian woman called Robyn who is married to a Nigerian, Mr O, and I got back as far as her October 14th post called We Are The World and this is where I first saw the video. They worried about whether they should put a link to it. I do not. We cannot and must not hide from these horrors and pretend they are not happening or we will surely lose our humanity.

The video shows the most gruesome possible scenes of  the beating to death and burning of 4 young male students who were said to have stolen a phone and a laptop from someone who owed one of them money.. The truth may or may not be entirely different but what is absolutely in no doubt is that no-one deserves to die like this. If you are going to watch it, I have to give you the strongest possible warning as it is harrowing in the extreme and from the first moments.

Many people stand and watch, both men and women and no-one comes to their aid and one films it as we can see.. The photo below is of the four young men killed and what makes it even sadder is that this is not, by any means, an isolated occurence in Nigeria.  Click on the photo to watch the video.. but please remember that I am not exaggerating about how brutal it is.. you will need a very strong stomach and the first seconds may be enough but I think it is very important that it is seen.

2 of the boys Lloyd and Ugonna recorded Heart of the City with others a while before they were killed. Couldn’t have been more appropriate.. you can hear why I say that by listening to it here..


“The killed students have been identified by the management of the university as 19-year-old Lloyd Toku ( 200 level Civil Engineering); 18-year-old Ugonna Obuzor (200 level Geology student); 20-year-old Chiadika Biringa, (2oo level Theatre Arts student); and Tekena Erikena, a 20-year-old a diploma (Technical) student.”

If you have or have not watched the full video please, please, please follow this link for the Justice for the Uniport 4 petition on Causes and sign it. It will be available for 57 more days and is addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan,  Senate President David Mark and to Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State Nigeria where these killings took place.  A quote from the petition:

“We demand that whoever is involved in this killing must face the music, Nigeria must show to the rest of the world that this country is not a banana republic. You cannot be asking investors to come and invest in your country when barbaric acts such as this are happening almost everywhere in the country”

Robyn bemoaned the fact that the petition had only 11,000 signatories on Oct 14th, it is now November 3rd and still only 14,890 have signed. It’s not enough, there needs to be hundred of thousands. I simply don’t understand why so few, maybe it is because of the way it is worded?  I feel the petition should be going viral to show Nigeria and the world that this kind of brutality is never acceptable.

I have shared the link to the petition on my Facebook page, with some *friends* on there directly and on many other pages on there from Amnesty International to Nigerian pages, I can do no more but I hope some of you who read this will sign and share with others. Let’s do this thing together.  Thank you.

Now I need to go to bed and get some sleep, though somehow I think it is going to be hard to get to sleep tonight as I am haunted by those images.

Addendum Sunday morning – when I woke this morning I thought people may want to do more or think a petition will make no difference. So I have emailed the Nigerian High Commission in London and indeed the British High Commission in Nigeria to ask what the Uk policy is on this.  Links below if you would like to tell them how disgusted you are that this kind of barbarity persists in Nigeria.

in England and Nigeria

or in America

Or Canada

or Australia

Lets add our voices and say NO to this, it took me just a few minutes to do..

Further addendumSunday afternoon

Please see the comment by my good blogging friend Scilla and my response below. This post is not in anyway meant to paint all Nigerian people as killers or brutal and I do indeed recognise the danger of a single story misrepresenting a whole people. I respect Scilla’s opinion greatly as I have found her to be very wise and thank her for her comments and for the link she has posted which I hope you will follow and watch.  She made me question whether this was a good or damaging post to write and it could clearly be seen as either but I have decided to let it stand because to withdraw it would be to pretend the incident did not occur and I could not do that.  Life is made up of a series of single stories and if I felt this was an isolated incident maybe I could pass it by but I know it is not.  Please follow this link to a piece written on the AllAfrica website “National women leaders of registered political parties yesterday in Abuja protested the killing of students in Mubi, Adamawa and Aluu, Port Harcourt, Rivers States, saying the killings are one too many.”

“We are killing our future by murdering our promising youths on daily basis. Every day we are burying our children and yet this is peace time or are we at war? We cannot keep quiet any longer. We are calling on all mothers and Nigerian women to rise and demand answers from Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State and President Goodluck Jonathan. We must hold them responsible for these killings.

“We are tired of palliative rhetorics like ‘the perpetrators will be brought to book’, ‘they will face justice’, etc. We recall the case of NYSC members killed during the electoral crises, was anyone arrested and prosecuted? What was done to protect them? If we do not as mothers, fathers and leaders arrest this descent into anarchy, we are doomed as a nation,” Hajia Mohammed said.

I do always research before I post and this was no exception.

Saturday Girl signing off ’til next week


You can find my photography blog Photomania here I hope you’ll pop over and take a look if you haven’t already.


32 comments on “How did humanity get so lost ?

  1. […] Last week I shared with you something which had given me a great deal of pain and will always stay with me.. if you missed that post you can read it here – How did Humanity get so Lost […]

  2. munchow says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Helen. Despite the fact that scillagrace has a point about the danger of the single story, I believe it’s important that atrocities committed anywhere become known. As you say nobody deserves to be kill like these four students – no matter what the story is behind the killings. And unfortunately Nigeria is one of the most violent countries in the world at the moment, and thus it’s even more important to keep a close watch at what is going on there.

    Does this mean that the hope of humanity is all gone? No, I absolutely don’t think so. As long as some still care, there is hope. But I also know that human beings will always be capable of committing atrocities towards each other. Which only makes it even more important to reveal and disclose those atrocities and not silently accept them as inevitable.

  3. Cynthia says:

    I just read someone’s post asking how does an individual make change. I think your post about the death of these young people and how you allow people to express their feelings is an example of how an individual makes change. In my humble opinion anyway. Thank you.

  4. Rachael says:

    Hi Helen. I won’t watch the video because I am not in a place right now where I can cope with this sort of thing. I know that is selfish of me, but sometimes you do have to look after number one. However, I would add that one of the things I like about you is your passion. Never lose it please. I also like it that you are so positive, most of the time, that you can make a difference, no matter how naive that may seem sometimes. The world needs more people like you. I hope you are feeling better this morning. Rx

    • Helen Cherry says:

      It is absolutely not selfish of you Rachael, I completely understand. We must all take care of ourselves first or we can be of no use to others.
      The last thing I want to do is force people to do anything especially watch something which is so disturbing…. The world has millions of people like me Rachael just wanting peace and justice.. much of the time we just don’t know how to channel it.. I know I don’t. Thank you for your kind words.. feeling much better this morning and have Meditation class this evening which will be good.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      Rachael can I just add something about making a difference..
      If I am kinder and more compassionate that will directly affect everyone I come in contact with.. say 50 people.
      If 50 people are kinder and more compassionate that will directly affect 2500 people
      If 2500 people are etc etc… you see where I am going with this? so each of us can make a difference .. even when it seems hopeless. We just have to believe it and do it..

      • Rachael says:

        Of course,that is how it works. Have you ever read Middlemarch? If such a complex novel can be distilled into one message, that is its message. If you don’t know it, I heartily recommend the novel. Dorothea is the epitome of the practical application of your comment above.

  5. […] the world this weekend.   The post was called How did Humanity get so Lost? and you can read it here ( it comes with a […]

  6. Alex Jones says:

    The universe is made of opposites: chaos/complexity; rebirth/death; destruction/creation; wasteland/abundance; pain/pleasure.

    What you witnessed is strife, which is part of the universe; it is harsh, ugly and unpleasant. If you were to look into nature you will find this cruelty too. Also in nature whole beautiful galaxies, perhaps teeming with life, are destroyed.

    Whilst this strife is common, it is made worse when humanity separates himself from the universe, like in the video you witnessed.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      Thank you for your comments Alex and I agree about the cruelty in nature to which I feel very close. However sentient human beings have the capacity, along with a few other species but missing in most animals, to make a judgement on how they behave; to think about consequences of their behaviour, to make active choices rather than reactive ones.
      Love, compassion and kindness need to be taught. If human beings can learn hate they can also learn love. Change yourself and change the world

  7. I can ‘t watch the video Helen. It will never leave me. I have a library of horrors already stored. But, I know what suffering looks like and do what I can, day to day. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of all who are vulnerable, suffering, in need. My next click will be the link.

  8. […] Which stories do we listen to; which do we tell?  How do we make a peaceful Sunday in our world?  Please click here to read her post, the links, the comments and spend some time considering your own response.  “May all beings be happy; may all beings […]

  9. scillagrace says:

    I haven’t watched the video, but I want to share a different one. It’s a TED talk called “The Danger of a Single Story” by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie.
    I suspect that brutal killings take place in every country of the world. I don’t know anything about the police and justice systems of Nigeria. There are flaws in these systems all over the world, too. I hesitate to sign something that demands that “whoever is involved…must face the music”. What does that even mean? I do hope it is being addressed locally by people who know more of the story than I do, and I do think it’s important to share stories and invite people to look more deeply and compassionately into the complexity of living in relationship to all life forms. Thanks for sharing your concern, your decision, and your pain. “May all beings be happy; may all beings be free from suffering.”

    • Helen Cherry says:

      Thank you Scilla for sharing the video. I have seen it before but will now watch it again as I know it is most excellent and highlights the dangers of a single story. You are completely right there are flaws and brutal killings in every country and I will highlight them whereever I find them when I can. This story was brought to my attention, as I have mentioned above, by Robyn who is married to a Nigerian who had stood as a councillor in Nigeria, had been severely beaten himself and fled to Australia as an asylum seeker. He has nightmares and is horrified at what is happening in his country right now.
      The reason I asked that people sign the petition ( and yes it is not ideally worded but it is worded by a Nigerian ) was to highlight what is happening and show that human beings find this unacceptable and care about what is happening in countries other than their own. I have also added the High Commissioners detials as it may be more appropriate to write there.

      The point about this is that this is not an isolated event in Nigeria and appropriate action is not always being taken. . I should have added this from Nigerian women’s leaders and will add into the post now..

      “We are killing our future by murdering our promising youths on daily basis. Every day we are burying our children and yet this is peace time or are we at war? We cannot keep quiet any longer. We are calling on all mothers and Nigerian women to rise and demand answers from Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State and President Goodluck Jonathan. We must hold them responsible for these killings.”

      • Helen Cherry says:

        Robyn is from Team Oyeniyi and you can see her comment below.

      • scillagrace says:

        Thank you for your very thoughtful and careful response. I have admired your activist approach from the very first. I am also very glad to see that your resources are personal and Nigerian. Our media is so often sensationalized here in the US that it is wise to try to avoid reactionary reflexes. When faced with suffering, response is important. I have been trying to incorporate guidelines from Thich Nhat Hahn’s Buddhist precepts. Here’s a link: #4 and #9 are especially pertinent. In general, as each individual embodies these precepts in his/her own self and local place, transformation of the world will occur. And telling these stories of facing injustice and making changes is supremely important. Peace, my dear friend, is always worth the effort. Thanks for the efforts you’re making!

    • Team Oyeniyi says:

      Thank you also from me for your considered warning, Scilla. Yes, there are dangers in a single story, but I can assure you the story raised much ire in Nigeria too. My husband approved our publication of the story. He feels helpless so often, no longer being there, like so many who are forced to flee their homeland.

    • Team Oyeniyi says:

      Scilla, if you haven’t seen it, the Amnesty International Report provides some further background.

      As does

      I just wanted to provide further context, I guess.

      • Helen Cherry says:

        Thank you for this Robyn.. and Scilla thank you also for the Thich Nhat Hahn’s link.. it was good to be reminded of them..
        Sending you both hugs and thanks for engaging in this important conversation

      • scillagrace says:

        Thank you, Robyn. I am getting a lot out of reading your story and your blog. I remember that my father, a Harvard grad and an IBM technical writer, used to write letters for Amnesty International, but I never knew much about that organization. I appreciate the links and the follow-up!

      • Team Oyeniyi says:

        Scilla, it is I who must thank you. Interest in our journey and the other aspects of life surrounding the journey are always welcome and if we humanise the issues it is worth our efforts!

      • Helen Cherry says:

        I am a memeber of Amnesty International Scilla and write letters too. It is something anyone can do and it also makes a difference on a very individual level.

  10. Pranav Lal says:


    I am not qualified to comment on the nature of humanity but for an alternative perspective, try and read the following book. Peace, Love and Healing, by Bernie Siegel, M.D.

  11. Team Oyeniyi says:

    Helen, thank you so much for your support. As I said in my post, it upset my husband very much for many days. Such a waste of young lives. He knows too much of this goes on in his homeland.

  12. rynnasaryonnah says:

    This is too painful to watch till the end!

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