Monday, June 4, 2012

So We Do Not Forget Those Who Died

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I first got the news of the Dana Airlines plane crash on my BB yesterday. The only group I belong to is one of writing nerdz with ears to the ground, eyes on the prize and hands always on their pens. Or in recent times, their blackberries, cameras and laptops. One of the members, Chiagozie Nwonwu, lived close to the crash site and before long, he wrote that he was on his way there.

Later that evening, I logged onto my laptop and visited a few media sites where I usually get my Nigerian news fix and the images overwhelmed me. All the reportage seemed to agree that there were no survivors. In one of the pictures, I saw a burnt figure that looked like a dead person, it probably was. It just broke my heart.

I was somewhat upset at those who were busy taking pictures, but, I later reasoned to myself that they are largely ignorant and probably meant no harm. I know for sure there's not a lot of public information on how to deal at scenes of disaster and emergency in Nigeria.

Some of these people are also coping with their own shock at witnessing such a gruesome scene. Maybe taking pictures was their own way of dealing with the trauma, of removing themselves, their psyche so to say, from the scene and what had happened. Maybe by processing the scene through inanimate devices, they could sublimate the pain of being powerless bystanders by being active eyewitnesses. So they do not forget.

But we do forget. And quickly too.

I woke up this morning, and while some blogs and newspapers are still reporting on the incident, some have moved on. How can we move on so easily after a tragedy like this? Have we already finished processing the loss, the pain, the guilt, the anger? Can we not think of ways we can help those affected, the victim's families, the crash site wounded and victims of property loss or damage?

I was a bit mollified when I saw more pictures of people that helped the Fire Service, what there is of it anyway, hoist pipes and try to douse the flames with water in buckets. I was glad that nearby construction sites gave up their equipment so the dead could be retrieved and their physical bodies given some measure of rest.

But still, a part of me remained angry. I was angry at the greed of the Dana Airlines with news that the same plane had several incidents in the past month, including developing a major mechanical fault the day before the accident. I was angry that the crew did not stand their ground not to fly the plane till it was fully repaired. I was angry at the ineptitude of government, from the aviation authorities, to emergency management, and to the presidency.

I was also angry at myself. Yes, I was angry that I wasn't there on ground, to give of the strength of my arms. And surely, there's more I can do than just send some money to the Red Cross? Other than giving money and material things to victims and survivors, were there other ways we could recover as a community? Was there a way as a writer and blogger I could contribute to this healing process?

I know that I gave Atala a hug and kiss more special than our usual as he left for work this morning. Something that rarely occurs to me did as we said goodbye. What if this is the last time I see him?

After he left and I began my daily chores before settling down to work, I wondered again how easily and quickly we forget and move on. Deaths by suicide bombers, road death traps, armed robbery, etc. And we always forget. But I didn't want to forget. Something this time was sticking in my craw. I remembered that there is a way to vent off emotions at the same time as keep them in our memory. Writing. So I decided to blog about my feelings. And as I sat down to write, it struck me. I could do more.

Through this blog and through Naija Stories, I could get even more people to write. So that we do not forget. So that even when time passes, we can always remember.

I sent him a message and during our call, Atala gave me a word for it. Memorialization. After our conversation, I looked up the meaning. To commemorate, To be mindful of, To remind, To honor or keep alive the memory of. By then, the germ of my idea became full blown. Yes, Yes, and Yes!

I have always loved to read, and not long after, I began to write. My earliest writing was of some children having adventures in a rural countryside. They were to help me remember the amazing time I spent each Christmas in Asaba with my family. I am no more a diarist because with age came the fear that they would fall into the wrong hands. But I believe strongly in telling our own stories. That is one of the major reasons behind going ahead to publish my books and to set up Naija Stories. Nobody can tell our stories better than us.

In the case of the Dana Plane Crash, I want to see the writers among us take this tragedy and turn it into something that we can all connect with. A story can be a healing outlet as we attempt to make sense of trauma. Whether as fiction or non-fiction, we can deal with our emotions, report on how we can do better next time or even give life back to the dead by recreating their stories.

And so, I am calling for an mixed anthology that will commemorate Dana Airlines Flight 9J-992 from Abuja to Lagos, Sunday June 3, 2012.

Send in Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry from now till the end of June to You can also register on and post your entries directly to the site. Selected Stories will be published in an anthology by the end of July 2012. While we will consider selling the anthology and donating the proceeds to Charity, for now we envision putting it up for free downloads.

My hope is that the stories collected will help us as people and a community to deal with this. The anthology will not be a collection of gruesome reports or stories but a celebration of life. Life is Precious. Stories are Forever.

Let us not forget.


Myne Whitman is a blogger, author, columnist, and founder of


  1. I was so broken last night, a dear friend lost his brother in that crash. I sat down thinking what their last moment was like, how they reacted when they realized what was happening, what questions did they children ask and what answers did they get?... how did they live home for the airport... what were their plans for the rest of the day? i kept thinking and so i wrote. Seeing them as individuals somehow makes the emotions real, it stops you from just moving on immediately even though there's nothing you can do to right what's already happened. Only God can comfort the families. Great thing you're doing Myne.

    1. Thank you FQ, I just read your blog and tears came again to my eyes. may their souls rest in peace.

  2. The whole thing is very very painful. I like the idea for the anthology. Well done.

    1. I hope it's okay that I saved the picture and link to it on my blog

  3. :( may their souls rest in perfect peace

  4. You're right, this is a time to mourn. And we can only do it together as a people and community. I've been so down but no matter what I try to distract myself with, I can't help but think of what just happened this past weekend. I know the feeling of helplessness associated with inability to prevent death or will someone to live. And worse still, only us can understand. people here may look with pity but everyone moves on because it didn't happen in their country. We have to remember those who were lost in this tragedy. Not just this alone but the series of tragedies that have trailed the country for a while now. We have to remember and in remembering, we may bring about the change that we desire. Thanks for this

  5. Hmm May their souls rest in peace..

  6. i lost my friend in that crash. sad much. nice initiative myne

  7. I am angry at everything but the truth is we just have to moveon,it is hardddddddddd but.....

  8. I keep crying whenever i think about it,i haven been able to sleep much, although i lost no close person in that crash, the mother from the US who died with her children husband and mother was my junior in school, my brother's friend lost her husband after just two years of marriage,my husband and brother usually fly dana too, and i work in the aviation sector so this is so close to home... i am so broken because these are real people whose lives dreams and hopes were cut short, we can't forget, we will never forget ....

  9. I am deeply sad and I find myself starring into space, thinking about the plane crash and asking myself questions I can't seem to have answers to. I lost a colleague, she was one of the nicest person I have ever met. She didn't seem to have time for gossip. Amaka Ojugbana had a baby (Christopher) last year, after years on "waiting on the lord".She wanted to share the joy with her family in Lagos.I heard on the radio this morning that a mother was found with a baby on her chest and i just knew.....I mourn for the dead,I weep for the Ojugbanas and I long for their souls to rest in the

  10. We should not forget...It is soo painful...

  11. Myne I keep thinking of what they went through in those last minutes. The FEAR, the confusion, the chaos, the screams. My eyes keep welling up. It hurts. And I also don't want people to forget. This is a fantastic initiative.

  12. People will move on, that is why we are people. It one of the coping strategies to deal with grief.

    I pray something comes up in my head, so I can submit for the anthology

  13. You are right Myne. We always forget and move on. That I find sooo annoying... BUT

    Times and times again, I always hear sad stories and am always sad looking for ways to conquer. Now, I feel emotional dead, i feel like I try to stay strong and positive but my conclusion is we will all DIE. Whatever the situation, unfortunately some of us will die in one a way or the other. People that have passed away have seen others die and said sorry. We too as we write and pay our tribute we will pass away and some others will come and say sorry. SO . LIFE IS A CIRCLE.. AND TO BE HONEST. I CANT BE BOTHERED ANYMORE.

    SO I will join the NORM and say GOD PLEASE REST THEIR SOUL, help their family through this healing process.

    I pray God will continue to protect us our going out and coming in. I pray we are worthy of his salvation and kingdom.

    I pray I get to play my part and fulfill purpose before he calls me HOME.

    But I must say, its easy to stand back and comment until you are in it or members of your family are in it. NIGERIA???? God HELP HER.

  14. I am angry about a lot of things myne. But to summarise

    My 2 cents is this: Just to add another angle to your observation Nigerians place too much emphasis on money and wealth. We are only causing an uproar because 153 people died mostly those who are rich and known. What about the dead residents in the area the crash happened? If it was a bomb blast somewhere in one remote village in the North, we would not have this kind of noise been made or if it was five luxurious buses that was involved in a fatal accident, we would just move on to the next news.The ladies that were raped during an armed attack on buses, we dont care. But because this hits closer home as a lot of the noise makers are frequent fliers they are now crying out, do you know how many Nigerians die in road accidents every day? Every life is important!!!!God bless you and your efforts Myne

    The day of the wedding and honey moon is a beautiful thing its the activities prior and after that raises issues ---->

  15. I agree with Mena that 'every life is important' - including those on the flight
    Unfortunately we have become a nation of people who speak in platitudes - 'It is well'....'It's God's will'....'It was their time' etc etc
    Until we begin to challenge the status quo, we will keep on going round in ever decreasing circles of underdevelopment and lost potential.
    It is not well.

  16. @Mena, I'm sorry you feel that way, but I strongly disagree with that view, frankly it is very disappointing u feel dat way, but u sure r entitled to ur opinion, however ignorant I think it is. The outpouring of emotions has got nothing to do with the rich. Nigerians mourn one thing or another every single day, we cry n den dry our tears....while road accidents n other calamities befall us every other day, u must admit that plane crashes even by nigeriann standards are not a daily occurence, and hardly would u get such a huge loss incured in any single road mishap... Many of d road accidents we may never even hear about, but plane crashes can hardly be hidden...thats the reason dat its such a huge deal... I lost my dad to a road accident,n my sister to an illness and whilst not every nigerian stopped to cry with me, it doesn't discount the suffering of the families now experiencing a similar loss (es)... Mourn with people who mourn, instead of raising irrelevant issues, if u have nothing to offer, then leave pple to mourn as they wish.

    U think just cos some pple can afford to fly then they suddenly have no issues again? did u stop to think that some of the so called frequent fliers have also been raped and robbed, and been in road accidents??? cos as a matter of fact I'm sure a few have, starting with myself. You never know enuf to judge anyone's reaction to any situation... If u have any useful advice that will move nigeria forward, den give it.

    And for someone who cares soooooo much about all d road accidents n rape victims, u ended ur 2cents by advertising wedding n honeymoon issues, how is dat solving d rape/accident issues u raised?

  17. Ada thank you. Mena's posts are always ignorant. I call her out a lot on LI's blog. I lost close family friends on that flight and yes one of them had survived road accidents only to die like this. Noise makers are frequent fliers? You have a stone heart Mena. KMT.


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