The Jungle Justice

“Thief! Thief!! Thief!!!” Came a husky voice from the inquisitive crowd. In the main market of Umuoko, voices were raised in anger and accusation. There was one stroke on the bell in the Lagos line where I was and then a male voice,  presumably the owner of the shop, asked if anyone had heard a female screaming, “Thief! Thief!! Thief!!!” – Jungle Justice

As I was about to pay for the pomade I bought, I eagle-eyed a dark rough-looking man drag a girl by her skirt, too hard and fast. The force was so much that, suddenly, the girl’s skirt was torn.

She was shrouded in confusion; looked at the crowd as they jumped up and down,bathing her with their spittle. She screamed, flailing around and trying to gain balances on the ground but could not hold herself. The agony in her scream turned my spine to jelly and I wished I was in a position to help her. I watched as the man went ahead to push her down and started dragging her along the floor.

Before I could collect the change from the shopkeeper, the girl had already been stripped to her pants, battered and
still being dragged on the floor. By this time, it was not the man alone, but a crowd of men had joined him. I could hardly observe her gesticulation, maybe she was trying to explain but the men continued to shout, “She is a thief kill her!” I was confused because I have never witnessed jungle justice like this in my life.

The men who had gathered were all awkward, rugged-looking and thick-voiced. The girl kept screaming yet her voice was completely swallowed up by the men. People were filming already with their phones, and at the same time screaming “Set her ablaze!!!”

She had lost the chance to explain herself, and immediately she was stripped stack-naked and it was not long when she was laid on the hot coal tar where she was wriggling in pain.  Blood gushed from her head as her body bounced off the side of a huge stone dropped near the tarred road.

She must have felt her broken bones squeaking and I wondered what was going on in her mind. Swimming in the pool of her blood, she received yet another hit of the stick from the angry mob,another and then another. She saw herself with old tyres soaked in fuel and hung around her neck to roast her alive.

Watching a man who was approaching, she saw a blood stain on his vest and she thought the man was her messiah.  She was about to raise her hand for help when she became weak and could hardly breathe.  She opened her mouth to speak but the only thing that came out was a still voice which I think, no one understood.

“Hey, Shut up!!!” another stray voice cracked from the surprised crowd.

 “Go on, beat her!” The voice continued. Stained by stains of blood, her body seems as though it was returning to its natural state, the words of the devil bleeding into the crowd’s soul. They poured into his nose sands and he could barely breathe.

She eased her body up, a little at a time, she could no longer hold herself and she lay on the ground as though she was dead.

 

I pressed into the crowd and they splashed water on me and I withdrew. Reacting to that, the crowd dispersed a little.   And I asked, what did she steal?  One of them said, “Somebody stole something in the main
market and she is the person”.  The woman who was in the shop with me had already appeared in the scene. 

She asked the man, “Why didn’t you catch the person in the Market?”

That was how sense entered their heads.  The crowd started asking what she might have stolen.  Another young lady made it clear that she did not steal anything that she was buying something when she felt a sharp push, and the next instant, she was there on the floor.

Fussing with anger, they turned to suppress the torture, but it was late as what they could only see was not her badly tattered body, but her ashes. She was burnt to ashes for the crime she did not commit.

Every day, someone is killed by Jungle Justice and most time the victims are innocent.  A study has shown that almost half of the people passing by a building will stop and look up if they saw few people
looking up.

Now what if the first few people made a big mistake by looking at absolutely nothing?  Won’t they get followed by a very large number of people? Yes, this will happen for sure and that’s the first reason why we should never follow a crowd to act unless we know what we are doing.

This is what is happening in Nigeria today, people imitate others in both their dressing code and dancing mode without asking “why?” 

There is always danger in following the crowd.

The crowd does not always ask questions, they act just because others are acting. We can stop Jungle justice, no one knows who will be a victim. Despite our efforts to stop judging others, we all must surely judge others.

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It might be over small things, or over bigger issues, such as what happened in this story. We are instinctively hard-wired for survival.  When we see a person that we think is a “sinner”, of course, we may feel threatened. But we should be mindful that although judgment is a natural instinct, we should try to catch ourselves before we speak, or do any harm to the sinner.

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Because we cannot get our words and actions back, we should first of all, pause and see if we can understand where the person may be coming from. Remember, only those who are faultless have the right to pass judgment upon others which implies that no one is faultless, so, no one has such a right to pass judgment.

In John 8:7, when they brought the woman to Jesus, they kept on questioning Him (Jesus), he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without fault be the first to throw a stone at her.”  We all are sinners and we are not free.

“Never underestimate the pain of a person,” Will Smith said, “because in all honesty, everyone is struggling and some people are better at hiding it than others.” We should remember that we are more alike than different.

When we feel critical of someone, we try to remind ourselves that the other person is just like us and wants to be happy and free of suffering, just like we do.

Most importantly, that person makes mistakes, just like we do. When someone does something you do not like, perhaps think of it as they are simply solving a problem in a different way than you would. Or maybe they have a different timetable than you do.  This may help you be more open-minded and accepting of their behavior.

The Dalai Lama says: “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness.  Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they have gotten lost.”

We may be judging someone for something that we do ourselves, or have done without having it in mind that judging a person does not define who they are, rather, it defines who you are.


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