Monday, June 4, 2012

On the Lagos Plane Crash

As news of the yesterday's plane crash in Lagos unfolds, and as the number of the dead is reviewed upwards, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. But what we do know is that it took hours for the so-called "First Responders" to get on top of things, to search for victims and put out the fire resulting from the plane plowing into a densely built-up neighborhood. There is so much to say about the terrible state of basic infrastructure in Lagos and Nigeria, and this plane crash once more makes the problem so utterly and embarrassingly obvious. But I do not have energy or composure to address this now. I can say though that I do not know what to make of the fact that President Jonathan has declared three days of national mourning. What are we mourning? The spectacular loss of 150 or so "important" lives, in a country where thousands and thousands perish on its decrepit and overused roads? Or are we asked to mourn the inability of the Nigerian government to provide something as basic as water (to put out Lagos' frequent fires) and access roads to its sprawling neighborhoods? And why three days? My own grief for the dead and wounded will be brief, but I reserve the extended mourning for the failure of governance and all the evils that follow from that--including, as we shall soon find out, this plane crash.

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