THE AJAH CASE – MAY WE LEARN TO BE HUMAN

At the time of writing this article, I should be reading a research paper on the bias problem of Artificial Intelligence. But I cannot see word ‘bias’ without remembering the human (yes, human – let this sink in first before we introduce gender) that was dumped at Ajah area in Lagos, stark naked, malnourished, etc.

It feels insulting if I try to describe how she (yes, a woman) looked, hence the use of ‘etc. If you want to see what I’m talking about, go on Twitter and search for ‘Ajah’.

The first thing that came to my mind when I first saw her picture on Twitter was this, ‘Human beings are amazing; how can a person pass through this and still be alive?’. After that I scrolled up and continued reading my Twitter feed.

Then today I saw posts saying that because she had tattoos, she must have been a runs girl, she was a prostitute. Online moralists using her to justify their lack of content.

PS: This article may not be straightforward, logical or coherent. I am writing from a point of disgust and bottled up anger at the apparent lack of humanity in all of you who even saw the picture of that woman and the first thing that came to your mind, ‘She must have been a prostitute’. You should be ashamed of yourself.

First of all, there are so many possible explanations for what she could have been.

She could have been kidnapped for the purpose of money ritual, and then left to starve in for weeks or months.

She could have been at the wrong place at the wrong time, like some of the 97 guys arrested by the EFCC recently in an Osun nightclub.

She could actually have gone on an hunger strike. Crazy, but its possible. A week ago, someone did it in Enugu, a guy, and made page 3 of Punch newspaper. He looked just as emaciated as the Ajah lady. In 2009, OAU made news when some fanatical students became convinced that the world was about to end and retreated into the deep forests surrounding the school for a long session of dry fasting and prayers. When they were found, some of them were at the brink of death. Read the news people, that way, you won’t spout ignorance over everyday occurrences. Or just shut up.

Even she was a prostitute, a runs girl, a girl who was trying to hit above her level, since when did that become a crime?

For every runs girl out there who somehow meets downfall, there are hundreds more who will minister to large congregations next Sunday, there are thousands who will not miss Friday prayers for anything in the world, and millions of them will settle down into happy marriages years from now, right under your nose.

The most unfortunate people are those who saw this lady first hand. The person who came close enough to take a picture of her emaciated face, her gutting ribs, her dull tattoos, and the badly healing wounds on her body. You came close enough to take a picture, but you couldn’t extend a hand to help her up. All of you watched her, till somehow, she mustered every last bit of strength in her body and lifted herself up. The more perverted ones among you must have made a few snide comments about her private parts. None of you could rush to cover her with a blanket or wrapper at least. None of you could take her to a hospital or even offer her something to eat or drink. She was just another thing thrown out of a car to bring excitement to your poverty-stricken, dull lives.

The Ajah lady was first of all a human, like you. She is someone’s daughter, sister, niece, cousin. There might even be a guy out there who has a crush on her. She could even be married with children for all we know. Her absence from the lives of her loved ones has most likely torn a deep hole in their lives. But none of that mattered to you. All it took was a flower-patterned tattoo and you concluded that she was a prostitute.

And even if she was a prostitute - What makes them so bad anyway? Because they have the guts the price tag on something many of you are used to getting for free? The prostitution industry in Germany is worth $1billion – that’s N360 billion. Can your industry make a blip in the GDP map of Nigeria?

Like we have in previous scenarios, the Biodun Fatoyinbo Case, Sex for Grades, we have shown that we lack one basic component needed for decent human living – humanity. We’ve lost it. Majority of us. Its not a matter of education, or exposure or wealth.

But there are still a few, and it is my sincere hope, that when next something like Ajah Case comes up or another example of the private cruelty that happens in many Nigerian hideouts – it is my hope that those of you who are human will be in the right place at the right time to offer a warm blanket or at least, an outstretched hand.

Analyst/Emerging Tech Lead, Tech Hive Advisory | AI Ethics & Governance Researcher