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Friday, 23 September 2011


I have to confess that I have not been in the forefront of the fight for the protection of human rights either on a domestic or international level. I have however, not been sitting on the fence nor have I been nonchalant. Rather, my contributions in that sector have arisen in quiet steps that I had taken in a professional capacity arising from  years of serving as a University teacher, as a Special Assistant to two Attorneys-General of the Federation and Ministers of Justice in the heydays of Babangidaism and as a lawyer in private practice. Unbeknownst to many, the human rights struggle is one that goes on irreversibly in many places, whether hidden or in the open having regard to the all encompassing and pervasive nature of human rights – the  classroom, the market places, the streets, in hallowed political offices, churches, mosques and so on. So multi-faceted and so misunderstood as the concept of human rights is, its enforcement has taken many forms including passive means such as conscientious objection or as popularized by Gandhi, Mandela or active means such as modest activism or violent activism as in militancy.

I am compelled to refer to history and to the words which over the years have inspired many:
(i)      Liberte’! Egalite’! Fraternite’! Anonymous: motto for French Revolutionaries.

(ii)          We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), statesman, Declaration of America Independence, 4 July, 1776.

(iii)        We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms the first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want…everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear…anywhere in the world.
                   Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) US Democratic President.
                   Speech to Congress, 6 Jan. 1941.

(iv)        Freedom is an indivisible world. If we want to enjoy it, and fight for it, we must be prepared to extend it to everyone, whether they are rich or poor, whether they agree with us or not, no matter what their race or the colour of their skin.
Wendell Lewis Wilkie (1892–1944) US lawyer & businessman. One World. ch 13.
(v)         None ought to be lords or landlords over another, but the earth is free for every son and daughter of mankind to live free upon.
Gerrard Winstanley (c. 1609 – c. 1660) English radical. Letter to Lord Fairfax, 1649.

(vi)                        The poorest he that is in England hath life to live as the greatest he.
Thomas Rainborowe (d. 1648) English Soldier and Vice Admiral;
Life of Rainborowe (Peacock).

Speeches such as these have inspired many to make the world a better place to live in but some have scoffed at them as an attempt to create ideal or Utopia. Be that as it may, I believe as do many others that ‘if you are not part of the problem, you must be part of the solution’. Aluta Continua.

AWA U. Kalu Esq., SAN

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