Dragon: “A huge frightening mythical creature that has green scaly skin, wings a long tale and breathes fire”
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia 2009
When I, and indeed the whole Nigeria woke graphic and grim reality of the Nyanya explosions, when we saw the pictures of human bodies torn to shreds like rag dolls. I got stuck on the first word that came into my head. Dragons. The word swam around my brain, for the whole day without let up. The grim pictures that made it out of the blast zone suggested a mental image of the apocalypse, which the musical group Imagine Dragons was talking about in their LP, Radioactive. the wasteland that greeted our eyes indeed looked like a herd of malevolent dragons had made their stand there, burning anything that could not manage to escape fast enough, to cinders.
Anyone who has a good grasp of the history of Cartography would know the meaning of the phrase “here there be dragons.” it was used to represent unexplored territory, unknown wastelands, where beasts, cannibals, demons and terror of all kinds were believed to lurk. Sailors were warned in advance to not venture near those places. Once the map maker puts that phrase or the drawing of a dragon in a particular place on the map, The message was clear “don’t go in there, because you are not guaranteed to come back in one piece.” Thus a sailor who ventured into a place so marked, either had to be adventurous, or mad, or both. These days, one is unlikely to find anywhere where any dragons could lurk on earth. But looking at the spate of violence in Nigeria over the past few years, would we be taking it too far if we look at Nigeria and say “here there be dragons?”
The Nyanya bombing has shown us that we are up against an enemy whose weapon is fire, and who wields this weapon so powerfully that it creates nothing but wastelands in its wake. That we are up against an enemy so colossal and unstoppable that it looms large over our country, spread out across large swathes of the country, and laughing hard at the puny efforts our security agencies to subdue it. An enemy so swift that after all these years it is still light years ahead of the long arm of our law enforcement agencies. An enemy with a heart so frozen, and skin so scaly, and with blood so cold that it is inured to human emotions of pity, love, and pain. An enemy so irrational and callous that it cannot differentiate between friend and foe as it wields it fiery weapons of mass destruction. So if that is not enough to prove that we are up against dragons, so what in hell are we up against?
“Here there be dragons”, would it be taking it too far if we say this about Nigeria, in a nation where the people who are supposed to guarantee us security from this fiery dragons from hell, look on helplessly as we are turned into toast, what hope do we have in a nation where the leader who is supposed to give the rallying call to stand up against these creatures simply hides in the comfort of his palace and does nothing, preferring to ask for prayers as solutions to a potential state-faliure inducing insurgency, instead of a plan of action? Would it be taking it too far, if we suggested that our security agencies, with their outdated and ineffective “sabres” which they rattle against innocent citizens, are no match for this scourge? And would there not be dragons, when the knights in shining armour who should be trying to banish the dragons are more like vultures, only concerned with stripping the “burning” nation of everything of value, while hoping that God would come down and do something?
“Here there be dragons.” If there is one thing the Nyanya bombing has thought us, it is that the dragons are still as strong and fearful and coldblooded as ever and that we have cause now, more than ever to fear for our lives. We live in a nation where the leaders are obliviously arranging the chairs on the Titanic and refusing to admit that this ship has hit the iceberg and will going down unless something drastic is done about it. We live in a nation where we previously thought that some of us in some parts of the country were safe from attack, but what we learnt from the Nyanya bombing is that the dragons are circling lower and then every part of the country North, South, East or West would all be in the resulting conflagration before long. Will the people whom we look up to, our knights in armour, who should rally us against this hellish scourge, ever be able to wake up to their responsibilities before it is too late? Let’s hope they do because if they don’t we will continue to watch innocents vanish in bomb explosions and think “here there be dragons”