The cover picture here is that of Erelu Bisi-Fayemi, wife of the governor of Ekiti State signing the condolence register at the home of Mrs Salome Abuh, PDP leader killed in the wake of the recent gubernatorial election in Kogi State. It has been sourced from Facebook where someone else posted it.
At a time when the nation has been denied the symbolic type of actions that heal, this picture sends a signal that will hardly be beaten in assessing for the picture of the year in Nigeria. It recalls the surprising emergence of leadership in Chinua Achebe’s character, Beatrice in his Anthills of the Savannah. It speaks to compassion and it speaks to authenticity.
Whatever drove Erelu Bisi-Fayemi, wife of the governor of Ekiti State, to pay a condolence visit to the home of murdered PDP Women leader in Kogi, the implication of the visit for the ideals that Nigeria seeks or should be seeking are too striking for any other interpretations to overshadow that. The visit carries multiples of significance to it. This is more so that she came from a different region, ethnic group and even party divide, breaking down all those barriers and transcending enemy images at a time enemy images of the other person is the only reasoning many of us are capable of.
In summary, this picture speaks to exceptionalism in the magnificence of mind that made it possible and in the statement it embodies about power that clothes itself rather than power that tramples upon those temporarily too weak to stand up. It is open to interpretations but no interpretations of the motif can cancel out the calming effect and the consequences of that for those at the receiving end of the brutality. It is light that cannot be hidden.
The message is that every moment produces a corresponding leadership and there is no knowing where leadership may come from. That is leadership as bearer of empathy, transitional justice and bringing people together across barriers, not in the sense of political office, angels or perfect human beings. In terms of these, Erelu Bisi-Fayemi has lighted a candle!