When Will All Men Be Equal? – Lanre Olagunju

It was Thomas Jefferson, a founding father and third president of the United States, who gave popularity to the thought that “all men are created equal” when he said in his 1776 Declaration of Independence speech “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” I suppose that Thomas Jefferson intended to point out that enslavement or oppression of any form is way against natural laws. And that all men deserve the same right and opportunity irrespective of their race or colour.

Whether his choice of words perfectly did justice to the deep intent of that expression, I can’t guarantee, but definitely they added some generalizations any intellectual should ponder on. The essence of liberty is well pronounced when individuals take out time to recheck and analyse knowledge that has been referred to as fundamental.

In every sense of it, will all men ever be equal, most especially when you critically ponder on the adjective “self-evident” used by Jefferson. Self evident means “not needing to be demonstrated or explained”. A fact that is basically obvious all by itself. Take for example; a lady can only be referred to as a spinster if and only if she is un-married. That’s a perfect use of the adjective “self-evident” because you can never define the word “spinster” without the use of the words “unmarried female”. Men are created differently in their make-up and natural abilities, but our differences of any sort should never be a reason to oppress or treat any group or class of people unfairly.

It’s sad that after the many years of oppression, injustice and brutality Africans suffered in the past, Africans are still not immune to treating her own as slaves and second class citizens, either due to selfish reasons or sheer tyranny.

There are a thousand-and-one happening that buttress this sad reality. But the recent one of them which I consider quite absurd is the juvenile injustice and brutality melted on children at Langata Road Primary School in Kenya. And to think that this absurdity happened on a day before the world was going to honour Martin Luther King for his civil right advocacy, takes the absurdity to a different height entirely.

This shows that Africans are yet to understand the full purport of Martin Luther Kings’ struggle for which he paid the ultimate prize. The police brutality on Kenyan school children is no different from the 1963 brutality that occurred in Alabama during the Children’s march in Birmingham. In both cases, black children were the victims, they were both unarmed and were brutality assaulted by security personnel entrusted to protect them. Just like police unleashed water cannons and fierce canines against unarmed black school kids who were simply demanding for equal rights for blacks and whites, Kenyan children of about 6 years were heavily teargassed and chased with dogs simply because they were asking to have their playground back.

The culprits in Kenya are local Kenyan police men brutalizing Kenyan primary school children. In Alabama, the culprits were racist white police officers against unarmed black high school children. Racism has to do with biases about another colour. But how come Africans still don’t feel the need to treat their own like humans should be treated?

This makes a huge mockery of Martin Luther Kings’ struggle for freedom, justice and civil liberty. This to a great extent points out that the problem is no longer with the white but my fellow Africans.

I agree that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere, and I strongly condemn the killings of the satirical cartoonists reporting for Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris.But I consider it quite hypocritical of the Nigerian President to have been quick to publicly condemn the terrorist attacks in Paris while his home country terrorist attack rumoured to have claimed about 2000 lives was greeted with reverberating silence by the presidency. Is Nigeria’s President Jonathan saying that the he is more pained and worried by the terrorist attack in Paris than the one that claimed more lives in his own country? If I may ask, what form of inequality was he insinuating?

To worsen the case the Nigerian military played down the causality figures. Just imagine that height of injustice! Was it not bad enough that the rights to life, liberty and property of Baga occupants were denied? Why then should the same military officers saddled with the responsibility of protecting the people of Baga openly refuse to acknowledge the casualty figures?

***Lanre Olagunju is an hydrologist turned freelance Journalist. He is an associate of African Liberty