By Julius Oweh
Death is dreadful. Death is deadly. Death is a mystery. Death confounds human reasoning. Death is incomprehensible. Death is simply deadly. Death is a final blow to any human being. Death is a journey of no return. Death is one way traffic. Death is a powerful instrument that reduces man to nothingness.
Throughout the ages, anthropologists and sociologists have wrestled with the idea of death and tried without success to cut through the maze and mystery of death. Religion had also tried to understand the complexity of death with limited success. In fact, religion is predicated on fear and that puny and mortal man cannot solve his earthly problems and decided to invest that power on a supreme being. Whether the pseudo Jewish cum Christian concept of death as transition to either Heaven or Hell, the Egyptian concept of death as a journey to another life or the Indian beliefs that man can take another form of life in animals, trees or human beings depending on one`s deeds during the first journey, the fact remains that death still poses mystery to man.
Yours sincerely cannot even comprehend death and I am talking about these philosophical postulations about death because of the corona virus ravaging the world. Even the most industrialized nations with warfare nukes are at the mercy of this agent of death. Whether it was the making of biological weapons that went awry or a means of reducing the world population, I will not break my head over such conspiracy theories.
However, allow me to take solace in the literary positions of two world famous wordsmith. John Donne, the English metaphysical poet makes fun of death, boasting that death shall remain stingless, boasting that `death shall die`. It is a futile effort as death is still very much alive causing havoc all over the place.
The English Bard, William Shakespeare takes more sober view about death, saying `man what a piece of clay`. It is an echo of the Holy Bible position `dust you are, and to dust you must return`. Therefore from whatever intellectual prism you look at death, one inescapable fact is that man is programmed to die.
Today the rich and famous in the world are at the mercy of the corona virus. Name them – the British prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister, the Chancellor of Germany, it is an endless list. Here in Nigeria, the chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, the son of Atiku Abubakar and governors of two states.
What one can decipher from the menace of corona virus in Nigeria is that those who travel to overseas – China, Europe and America are the carriers of this deadly virus. Another stinging reminder of this disease is that the rich and famous in Nigeria have nowhere to run to. All of us are at the mercy of death, a reminder of the doomsday scenario. Europe or America is no longer a safe haven and let no one brag about his junketing activities in Europe and America. Corona virus has passed a powerful message. Stay in your country and develop it.
Beyond the lockdown measures and social distancing, and free medical treatment available to corona virus patients, it is hoped that our leaders will use this window of opportunity to develop the healthcare services in this country.
What does it profit them now to steal public money and stash them in Europe and America? The patients of corona virus are getting free medical care because the rich, mighty and powerful are in the painful realization that should they be indifferent, the agent of death shall come knocking on their doors. It is a tragedy with some mixed blessings.
As I said earlier, man is programmed not to live forever. Today, science and technology is at the mercy of death. Therefore those politicians who delude themselves that they are gods, death is a leveler and final message on the absurdity of life. I remember with nostalgia my days in Akoka especially in an absurd literature class. The message still rings after many years of graduation. Life is nothing surrounded by something or something surrounded by nothing. Religion and philosophy are just useless tools of trying to make meanings from a meaningless life.
Let the federal government continue with its stringent method of border closing and not allowing any international flights. Let my people continue to observe social distancing, washing of hands and let those who recently returned from abroad present themselves to the nearest medical facility.
Life is so sweet that people will not like to taste the bitterness of death, which unfortunately is inevitable. Let us continue to fight a war that we cannot win, against death.
Corona virus is a civic lesson on the shortcomings of science and technology. I rest my case.
Mr Oweh, a journalist, writes from Asaba, Delta State.