“A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.”—Mark Twain.
By Folorunso Fatai Adisa
The Yoruba submission that, “Ti iro na lo l’Ogun odun, Ojokan ni otito yio ba”, which can be loosely translated as “ regardless of how fast a lie travels, the truth will outpace it in a microsecond” aptly encapsulates the morbid incidence that took place at the Lekki Tollgate ENDSARS protest in October 20,2020.
The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters (Lagos EndSARS Panel) has reported the Lekki Tollgate shootings of October 20, 2020 as a massacre. According to the Panel’s report, “It was alleged and corroborated that the soldiers had their vans parked at the Lekki Toll Gate and removed as many bodies and corpses of the fallen protesters which they took away with their vans.”
When the report of the Panel surfaced, it was the great Hannah Arendt’s “Truth and Politics” that came to my mind. Fact is felt to be anti-political. From the viewpoint of politics, truth has a despotic character. It is rigid. Consequently, it is hated by tyrants, who rightly fear the competition of coercive force they cannot monopolize…
Incontestably, truth-tellers— like DJ Switch, Mr Macaroni and other youths— exist outside the realm of politics. They are pariahs, and like Socrates subject to exile and death. Lies have always been seen as necessary and appropriate tools for political advantage. Truthfulness is not among political virtues; but lies lead the pack of the attributes that can be found in the political realm. Factual truths are more likely to die by power than discoveries, theories or axioms of science because facts and events are more fragile than axioms. The opposite of a true statement is either error or ignorance which steeped in opinion.
Notably, deliberate falsehood requires the presence of factual statements to thrive as organised lying is the most vicious weapon against truth. The conflict between truth and politics arose out of the life of the philosopher and the way of life of the citizen. Hannah states that the opposite of truth was mere opinion, which was equated with illusion and it is the degradation of opinion that gave the conflict its political poignancy: for opinion, and not truth, is among the essential requirements of all power— little wonder many “opinionists” who are extremely in love with “the government” aired opinions, during the Lekki ENDSARS massacre, in support of the government.
As James Madison said, “All governments rest on opinion”, Governments and/or political power derives power and thrives on the support—opinions— of those who are like-minded. And that’s Arednt’s argument: truth and politics do not share a common ground as politics thrives on lies and opinions. They, first, lied there were no shootings; they continued that no one was killed. But now it has been established that it was a pogrom against the youths.
For the Lekki massacre, the truth has unclothed the lies. For the deceased and the youths , it is a well deserved victory. And those who are involved in the dastardly acts should be brought to book.
*Folorunso, Fatai Adisa, writes in from Abeokuta.