Cynthia in our hearts

August 30, 2012
3 mins read

WHEN the story of the tragic killing of the beautiful Cynthia Osokogu broke last week, it got a deserved place on the front page of practically every Nigerian newspaper. The sheer tragedy of the killing of a 24-year-old, with a whole lifetime ahead of her, was so heart-rendering in the first place. But as the story unfolded, there were many related issues which made it so compelling and sad. How did she become so trusting of people she hardly knew beyond the virtual, make believe world of FACEBOOK? Why did she accept a flight ticket, was received at the airport by the crooks, accommodated in an hotel and the tragic sequence of sedation, chaining, raping and tragic killing?

I ask those questions as a parent of young girls too and these questions must trouble every parent about the way our children socialize in the context of the milieu that post-modern capitalism has fostered around the world. In the advanced capitalist countries, there is a deep-seated alienation and atomization of the individual. The eternal invention of gadgets and make belief, help to make the individual a consenting part of the process of capitalist exploitation. Freedom has turned into an illusion and the citizen has morphed into just a consumer; he/she hasn’t the luxury of a pause as he is inundated with credit, with goods, with services and ever more spaces of delusion and fantasy to keep abreast with. These societies use these enveloping world of fantasy as escapes for the atomized individuals, but often even these do not last. There are regular orgies of violence; individuals go loony and sometimes carry out incredible crimes.

Incestuous relationship

There are incestuous relationships; ever more sickening acts of sexual violence or attraction to exotic religious experiences.

But the state is very strong and the hegemony of the ruling classes is upheld. Individuals are not allowed to be more powerful than their society; and even the scions of ruling families will be sharply reprimanded or punished for the sake of the survival of their hegemony.

Our post-colonial, neo-colonial society carries the baggage of underdevelopment, not just of its productive forces but a troubled mélange of traditional norms and an eclectic expression of modernity.

For the young people growing up in our society, they were born within the context of the violence and corruption associated with military dictatorship; they have also come to adulthood within the irresponsibility associated with civilian rule in the past 13 years.

There are very few positive role models for a lot of the young people growing up in our society today and since the Nigerian mutant strain of capitalism does not valorize hard work, young people attracted to the glittering world of capitalist consumerism, also want a bite of the cherry, any which way.

So while the ruling elite loots the state, these young criminals carry out scams on the internet; rob or as we saw with Cynthia’s tragic fate, set up young ladies for fleecing after drugging and raping them.

I honestly do not think we can understand Cynthia’s tragic fate and the boom in sexual crimes, cultism in schools, the expansive use of drugs and the associated violent crimes among young people, without placing them in the necessary sociological context.

So when universities deny that the individuals arrested for the tragic killing of the young girl, are their students, they miss the point.

The criminal actions of those individuals do not only indict whichever institutions they attend alone, they indict our society in general; the break down of the family structure by the rapacity of our version of capitalism, where parents are unable to provide for children who now fend for themselves using the proceeds of crime and prostitution; the privatization of the state as vehicles for an elaborate process of corrupt enrichment by a ruling elite with the consequent institution of an uncaring ethos of individualism where it has become legitimate to prey on the neighbour.

These take place against the background of the worldwide dominance of post-modern capitalism and its consumerist appeals to people, especially the young. Our society is indicted that we have produced the types with the criminal mind to do all they did to such a promising young lady.

And because we are parents, or have sisters and friends, who we don’t want such to happen to, we need to be more responsible parents, citizens and leaders for the sake of those we love. We should give our hearts to Cynthia and the family of General Osokogu in this trying time for them, with hope that we will learn and teach lessons to all those we love.

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