She sits atop the huge head of the lion in cheeky confidence…the soles of her feet rest firmly on the lion’s eyes, shutting them up firmly; smothering its rippling aggression with her enchanting tenderness…subduing its age old violence with her silent grief. This lion is Nigeria with all her primitive aggression and unbridled injustice.
Her supple palms are wrapped around the Nigerian flag. But this is her moment and she has decreed that the flag would not fly. It’s her own way of getting back at a country that has broken her in two. So, it is neatly furled up in its mast and cuts the momentary image of a weapon for the defense of her defiance.
Her face is a mask of grief. She is disconsolate. Implacable. Sorrow has corroded her youth. Folks say she had lost three brothers to SARS. So, come thunderstorms and the trumpet of apocalypse; Nigeria has to explain what wrong her family has done to deserve this pain!
But I can’t help but wonder where she finds the courage to stand tall and ask for justice. Indeed, where do broken people find the strength to demand for justice?
Yet, in her little act of defiance, in her choice of bestraddling the statue of a lion, this fragile looking girl has built a monument in honour of her fallen brothers. And her powerful photographs have become an enduring iconography of the people’s angst against a dysfunctional system that has outlived its usefulness.
That is why this unknown girl is my heroine of this struggle; not Aisha Yesufu.