Of Heroes, Villains, and dollar baits (1)

Superman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up with comic books. I discovered comics in primary two or three. I can’t quite recall, but I think Voltron, Super Ted and other TV cartoon shows played a large part. Anyway, I discovered comics and life was never the same again. While my friends outgrew the habit I kept at it and still find it difficult to turn down the chance to read a comic book today.

Anyone who has ever held a comic book , especially the variety that made DC and Marvel household names, the sort that gifted us Superman, Batman, Spiderman and all the others whatever-mans, would be conversant with one thing: comic books are about the battle of evil and good. There are good guys, bad guys and some who appear to saddle the line between both worlds. In the world of comic books, called universe, the good guys are called Super Heroes and the bad guys are called Super Villains. The Heroes usually do not associate with the Villains and even when they do, it’s usually for the greater good.

A comic book hero is expected to go out of his way to ensure that the greater good prevails, even if this entails sacrificing his/her own life in the process. The Villain on his/her part is expected to pursue personal interests with no recourse to the greater good. Heroes are lovable characters, godly, good and usually happy. Villains are hateful characters, vengeful and constantly on the quest for happiness—hence they keep dreaming up dark schemes to undo the hero and achieve personal gains.

The heroes that made comic books great reads are not obtainable in reality, as such, no matter how much one strains to get his hands to shoot Lightening bolts like Lightening Boy or morph substances like Element Lad to get that armed robber hammering at the burglar bars, nothing will ever happen—sorry kids.

However, heroes, of a different sort, but possessing the same desire to better the lot of man, graced societies throughout the ages. Every town, village and hamlet have heroes, legends, people of extra ordinary constitution, who did great deeds that lifted their fellow man to greater heights. With stories of these great ones abundant, it is understandable why societies still look for traits of heroism in man.

In Nigeria, the heroes list would surely make for one contentious topic, so I would rather plead the escapist’s creed and leave it be—as they say, one man’s villain is another’s hero. While the heroes of yesterday have come and gone, leaving behind words and actions by which we may judge their worth, the dearth of new-age heroes to fill their shoes or, at worst, walk their paths, stares us in the face. So hungry are we for champions that we embrace anyone that appears to have a spark of selflessness in them. We search long and hard for these ones, shifting through the murk that is our political landscape, looking for hearts that beats as one with ours. Once one is identified, we embrace him/her, feeling hope’s tired embers glow in the face of their expected wind of change. Sadly, it usually comes to nought, our supposed heroes more often than not turn out to be sheep in wolves’ clothing, who use our collective desire to hoodwink us, then rape us.

We applauded recently when Farouk Lawan appeared to embody our collective desire, that craving for equity and justice in the face of bare-arsed thievery. Unfortunately, Lawan fell, unfettered, like a heavy rock under the power of gravity. With him went our growing hope that some within the ruling party can lift Nigeria from the doldrums of criminal leadership. With his betrayal, that’s what it is, went the heightening hope that perhaps the future would not be as dark as many had predicted.

Farouk Lawan, whose prior history did not indicate had the propensity to dance with villains, is increasingly looking like a mark—a villain that acted like a hero to buy us over.

Funny enough, hero worshipers such as myself, still hold out in the vain hope that all these would be a dream. Sadly, even we know this hope is in vain, for our professed heroes are nothing more than shrouded villains.

True, there might be true heroes out there, but how long will we continue to search before salvation comes. To believe in the existence of heroes in our political-scape is to believe that chickens would garner the power of flight overnight. Yes, our heroes are still chickens and villainous hawks rule the world they habit.

Recently, someone called me ignorant for refusing to believe that our present leaders are any different from those that walked the path before them. However, in a land where the difference between the Villain and the hero lies in the amount of dollars on offer, how can one keep believing?

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