International Day Of Peace – Equality for All

One God, many faces.

One family, many races.

One truth, many paths.

One heart, many complexions.

One light, many reflections.

One world, many imperfections.


We are all one,

But many.”

 ― Suzy Kassem

Is this just a poem or wishful thinking? Are these mere words? Likely impossible or unconvincingly possible? Are we truly ONE?

It is a YES for me; and the time is NOW.

For so many years there has been declaration and resolutions on peace.

1948: Universal Declaration of Human Rights
1978: Declaration on the Preparation of Societies for Life in Peace
1984: Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace
1999: Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace
2011: The Bruxelles Declaration, “Pledge to Peace”
2016: Annex to Declaration on the Right to Peace
2018: The Global Resolution for the Establishment of Infrastructures to Support the Culture of Peace (not a United Nations resolution)

In 1984, the year I arrived this world, the United Nations General Assembly, by resolution 39/11, adopted the Declaration of the Right of Peoples to Peace, in which United Nations Member States solemnly proclaimed that the peoples of our planet had a sacred right to peace.

Let me rephrase this: We all have a sacred right to Peace; all species inclusive – not just peoples.

True peace dosen’t foster hostility and destruction but embraces mutual respect and win-win resolutions towards nature-wildlife conservation. True peace promotes coexistence and evades extinction – What is True Peace?” by Linda Etuk

Linda Etuk's Quote
The basis of world peace.

Previous efforts to achieve global peace have all been full of good intentions, but they resulted in too many declarations and not enough action. This is a historic moment, and if we do not seize it, maybe we do not deserve to survive.

As is the case when launching a rocket to meet the International Space Station in orbit, there is a very small window of opportunity to make world peace happen.

We must all understand that sustaining life on earth is the basis of world peace.

We must protect the existence of all species, we share the same ecosystems, surroundings and our dependability on each other. Every factor in an ecosystem depends on every other factor, either directly or indirectly.

There have been pungent predictions that future climate change will influence the spread of viral infections. This is due to the complexity of interactions between climate, nature, and human activity.

The most recent pandemic should open our eyes to the fact that we need to do more to understand the climate costs of the wars we fight, the discrimination in our hearts and the hate we speak all have adverse effects on us.

We can prevent the horrid homicides, horrors beaming across the internet, violent deaths from wars between states, Civil war breakouts, conflicts principally Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria, Yamen and now Ukraine, even Cold Wars that are fraction (in per capita terms) by changing the way we see each other.

We are more alike than different. We are one. Believe it or not we are all the same. Man, animals and plants alike. At the end of the day, it’s like water and rain. For this course, I do not rely exclusively on intellectuals or artists or politicians or peace activists or nature advocates like myself.

We are all in it—from the haves to the have-nots, from presidents of companies to presidents of countries.

Whoever understands the plan and the steps needed to be taken is welcome. I just want to communicate the idea to whomever this resonates with, whether that be the Pope, Burna Boy, Mama Emeka, a roasted corn vendor on the corner of Mushin. Aliyu the meruwa guy, the social media influencers, or any environmentalist and journalist. We are all in it.

Easier said than done? Hear me out. In order to achieve global economic stability and sustainable growth, we should look inward; balance equals peace among all species. Mother Earth should get real infrastructure that enables her thrive; so, viruses can be controlled or even better, they can be used as a vehicle for something good.

Imagine a virus that spreads knowledge, immunity, long life. This is the world we need. We do not own the planet Earth; we belong to it. And we must learn to share it in peace and harmony with all living creatures.

Flash Flood

The odour that wafted into his nostrils as he waded through the flood water was similar to that of fresh fish and dead plants, making him feel a little bit nauseous. Two weeks ago the same road that was now occupied with flood water would have been bustling with life at all levels. The bleating of goats strolling by would have been heard and the crowing of a rooster would have filled the air. Children would be running around with barely any clothes on their backs and adults would be busy with chatting with each other. But it was not two weeks ago, it was the present and more than half of the village land was occupied with flood water, causing the people to vacate their homes and to find shelter at the village town hall-one of the few locations where the flood had not gotten to.

The curve of a small smile settled on Oche’s dark face as he spotted his two friends on a canoe just at the end of the flooded road. He quickened his steps, the water rising higher on his body at every step that took him closer to where the canoe was. By the time he finally made it to where the canoe was, the water level around him reached his waist.

Taking the outstretched hand of one of his friends, he took a leap into the canoe, and after which he exchanged some morning greetings with his friends, for the sun was just peeping out from the far horizon. The next moment he and his friends got into preparation for the work ahead of them-fishing. They fixed the fishing line on the thin bamboo sticks, picked up the bait-worm-from a deep bowl-and fixed it on the fishing line. Done with preparing the fishing line, Oche picked up the only paddle in the canoe and started paddling, gradually propelling the wooden canoe to their site of fishing, the rhythmic upward and downward movement of his wide shoulder blades very visible from his bare back as he paddled. The more he pushed the paddle in and out of the deep brown water, the more the tiny beads of sweat on his back multiplied. A school of very tiny fishes swam past the corner of the canoe and the sight stole a smile from Oche.

The boys made small talks as they went on with their journey. The lankiest of them all complained about the state government’s negligence of their plight while the stout one complained about the shortage of food in the village after many farmlands were submerged and destroyed by the flood. Oche only listened to their complaints and wished that things would miraculously get better for them all. Oche withdrew the paddle from the water when they finally got to their destination-a site just in front of a big old church. The water level was extremely high here and could reach Oche at his neck if he decided to dive in. The three boys got into work by throwing in the baited fishing lines into the deep water.

Oche tightened his grip on his bamboo stick as he started to feel a weight pulling on it. A fish had eaten his bait and was hooked. His hands still tight on the bamboo stick, he pulled it out with a force enough to land the fish and the fishing line inside the canoe. He carefully freed the fish from the hook, making sure that his hands were safe from the mouth of the sharp hook, and then he gently threw the fish-about the size of his wide palms-into a bucket filled with water. The fish that was gasping for water before, swam giddily in the bucket of water the moment it was thrown in, probably not aware that the newly found freedom was a temporary one.

Oche had just thrown into the water his fishing line for the second time when he and the other boys saw a boy about the age of twelve paddling past them. The boy had a thick long hair and was only on khaki shorts.

From the way he held his makeshift paddle which was a long, thick bamboo stick; Oshe could deduce that he wasn’t so experienced with using a canoe. And again, the makeshift canoe-made with bigger bamboo sticks tied together horizontally and vertically-wasn’t steady on the water. The other thing that gave Oche the greatest worry was the direction that the young boy was paddling his canoe to-behind the church building-where the water current was extremely high.

Where are you going to!” Oche had to cry out to the boy, gaining the attention of his two other friends in the process.

“To fish!” the boy replied with a firm voice.

Oche could already tell that the the boy was going to fish from the bamboo stick and bucket that was on the boy’s canoe. What he didn’t understand was why the boy wanted to go to a place farther than where they were.

“The current is too high over there!” Oche cautioned.

“I know. It’s okay!” the boy replied and turned his back against Oche, giving Oche a clue that he had already made up his mind. Oche sighed and focused again on his fishing.

“Why are you bothering yourself?” his stout friend, Ekere asked.

“He looks too young. I don’t think he can handle the current over there,” Oche replied, the skin of his forehead furrowed. A fish got caught up in Ekere’s hook before he could say anything back in reply, so he focused on drawing the fishing line out instead.

“Why are the fishes treating my hook as if it’s without a bait,” the tallest among them, Abutu complained loudly, making Oche and Ekere to laugh at him.

“Keep trying and don’t give up yet.” Oche patted Abutu on his back. Abutu grudgingly drew out his fishing line from the water and fixed in a new bait on the hook, before sinking it back into the water again. But a terrific sight suddenly flashed before him just at the moment he turned around to drop the hook back into the water. With wide open eyes, he finally released coherent words from his mouth. “Where is the boy?”

Oche and Ekere instinctively knew who Abutu was referring to so with their fishing sticks still in their hands, they simultaneously turned around to meet with the sight that immediately replicated on their faces the same horrified look that Abutu had on his. The empty canoe of the young boy was just at a distance a little bit far from theirs, and being rocked by the fierce water currents. Oche’s eyes quickly roamed the region before him and they suddenly landed on what looked like the head of a human, just some few meters away from the empty canoe. The head suddenly disappeared but then reappeared again. It was only then Oche realized that it was indeed the head of a human and not an animal.

“He is over there!” Abutu shouted, as he too had now seen the boy who was trying to raise up his hands. The water current was taking him farther and farther away from them at every passing second. Oche had to act fast so he immediately drew out his fishing line and placed it on the canoe

“What are you doing?” Ekere quickly held unto Oche’s hands.

“I need to go!”

“It’s too dangerous. You said it yourself; the water current is too much!” Abutu tried to make Oche change his decision of risking his own life to save the boy.

Oche had a lot going through his mind. He remembered the six-year-old girl who had drown a few days ago. Rumors went around that the little girl had gone to take her bath alone at the village river, when the water level was almost two times higher than usual. He knew her and he had wished that he was there to save her.

He had an opportunity to save someone now and he couldn’t let it go by. Yes, the water current was much but he trusted his swimming skills. He was the best in swimming among his peers. Without heeding to the persistent pleas of his friends, he quickly dived into the water and started swimming forward and away from their canoe. He propelled one arm after the other with as much speed that he could possibly muster.

The more he tried to close up the great gap between him and the drowning boy, the more the current took the boy away from him. It was becoming frustrating. He increased the power of his strokes, causing him to involuntarily gulp in some of the contaminated flood water. His hope came alive again when he noticed that the boy had managed to hold onto a twig from a small tree. Swimming along the direction of the water current made it easier for him to get closer to where the boy was, but then, he couldn’t help but to dread what would happen when swimming back to the canoe.

A few more strokes and he finally reached where the boy was. He extended his right hand to the boy who had the most frightened look he had ever seen. The chest of the boy got elevated and depressed at every second due to his erratic breathing. The boy took Oche’s hand and afterward he wrapped his hands around the neck of Oche.

Oche turned around and started swimming against the current-the part he dreaded the most. Sharp pains were already emanating from his biceps and his eyes were hurting him. He gathered up some courage and tried to overcome the force of the current that was very well against him. He felt choked as the boy’s grip on his neck suddenly became tighter. The boy was traumatized and scared.

Making single strokes with only one of his hands, Oche tried to use his other hand to free the tight hold of the boy around his neck but it was fruitless. He had only one option left-bear the temporary discomfort and focus on the important task of swimming to safety with the boy.

The more his muscles became weaker, the more he pushed himself above his limits. He could see his friends now, they were waving at him.

Slowly and steadily, he was beginning to close the gap between his friends and him. He was beyond exhausted by the time he reached the canoe. With the help of his friends he was pulled into the canoe along with the boy.

The faint voices of his friends congratulating him appeared to be floating in the air. His breathing was rapid and he couldn’t feel his numb legs. He fought to keep his eyelids open but they threatened to shut his eyes. He looked beside him and saw that the boy appeared to be alright. He took in a deep breath of relief and smiled. In the next seconds that passed by he became tired of fighting to keep his eyes open so he let his fatigue win over his body. His eyes slowly shut and he fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.

Dancing in the Rain

Children Playing in the Rain

You know you are in Lagos when clouds begin forming and winds start blowing with people running helter skelter – depicting signs of rainfall; unannounced rainfall mostly show up when everyone is busy going about their business.

It was about 1pm.  The street was filled with children in white-gray uniforms on their way home from school. They walked in pairs chatting, giggling and playing by the road side. The sky darkened with thick clouds. Most people picked up their pace, while some ran hastily holding futile hands skyward to fend off the worst. Onyeka quickly got on a motorcycle to take him to his mother’s shop in front of their house. The rain began to fall so thickly that there was an instant covering of water on the street; the city was cast into somber tones.  The roads were turned into small rivulets and street children were splashing and playing in the muddy, dirty puddles. The motorcycle driver slowed down; thick sheets of rain obscured the driver’s vision. He held the handlebar firmly as they lumbered pass; the saddle clattered as the wheels sloshed through the muddy potholes.

The downpour was so heavy that they were drenched to their skin. The sound of emptiness was disrupted by the loud gregarious boom of thunder. The cold rain pierced Onyeka’s pale and wet skin. He hopped off the motorcycle as he handed the driver a wet fifty naira note. He ran across the slippery path into his mummy’s shop.

His mother and his elder sister Adaobi had already covered their wares with large polythene materials to prevent water from destroying them. 

”Good afternoon mummy,” he greeted, now shivering.

“Welcome son, go inside and quickly join your sister in filling up all the barrels.”

“Ok ma,” he sprang off.

“Make sure you take off your wet uni…“ Onyeka was already gone before she finished.

All the children in the compound had come out with buckets to fetch water from the rain. They took turns under the roof top gutter channel – each person placed a bucket at the funnel- like faucet and watched the water gush into the bucket. When a bucket was full, the child carried the bucket of water into the house to fill up the storage containers. It was a lot of work and it required patience. Onyeka and his friends enjoyed this chore because it was a good excuse to jump in various puddles with their arms open wide and water running freely down their faces and already soaked clothes.

While Onyeka waited his turn, he joined his friends to dance to the beats and strums of the rain; each boy was out to show his unique afopop dance steps. One of the boys planted one leg while twisting the other leg on the ball of his foot to the beat. Once his basic stance was established, he added ridiculous hand motions and facial expressions to display his azonto dance skills. Everyone hailed him. There were various dance moves as the rain pattered. Ada also came out to shake her backside leaning forward with locked knees and lifting each leg up and down to initiate the kukere dance pattern. Her arms were in freestyle movements. It was becoming a rain dance battle. Another boy seemed to be the shoki master; his leg movement and the violent shaking of his head, biting his fingers and contorting his face into wild expressions earned him the master title. Everyone was excited. The wind howled as the water splashed in a repeated rhythm.  

Onyeka in the excitement began a backwards rolling of his shoulders with one arm continually extended and the other arm placed either on his waist and alternatively on his chest in a Skelewu movement – he tried to add a leg movement when he missed his step. He slipped, and fell hard on his back. As he hit the ground with a “thud,” at first he was just shocked. The children screamed and a thunder rumbled. Adaobi ran to his side. Then the shock turned to horrible pain, stinging his back and side. He realized he’d been badly injured because he couldn’t get up. There were several failed attempt to get him back on his feet.

Onyeka was rushed to a nearby hospital but was immediately transferred to The National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi. He saw two different chiropractors, both of whom told his parents he’d seriously injured his back and may need surgery. In the meantime, he was given a bed in Igbobi. He was always lying on his back for it hurt too much to sit upright. Onyeka remained optimistic about his recovery. He told everyone who cared to listen how he would be going back to school soon and how much fun it will be to dance at his birthday party in October. His mum enjoyed listening to his enlarged horizon of hope; it made her smile but she didn’t want to spoil his happiness. She knew they needed a miracle for Onyeka to walk again. The doctors were still evasive about his prognosis. The only sure truth was that Onyeka needed surgery and physical therapy afterward which cost a lot of money that his family couldn’t afford.