Chris Abani graced us with his presence at the Westheimer Peace Symposium on October 16th at 10:15 in the morning, and it was a session worth crawling out of bed for. He stared out with the quote, “Love for the weak always includes a murderous intent.” He then shared with us an intense story of his “masculine initiation,” which wasn’t actually completed by him, but a friend. He spoke of his inability to kill a goat. He realized that a goat’s eyes are too human, along with its human-like screams, and was unable to slice its throat. He was lucky that a friend could do it for him, but not without wise words of advice. “It will always be hard to kill, but if you cry every time, you will die of heartbreak.”
Chris said that he knows how to kill a man. He says that he could. He also says, though, that he fears he will not feel sorry. It is this fact that inspired him to be an activist. Growing up in that increasingly violent Nigeria, Chris wanted to find non-violent solutions to promote change in Africa.
When he was just 16, Chris Abani wrote a thriller novel about Nazis taking over Africa to establish the Fourth Reich. In a turn of events that he describes as “wonderful accidents,” there was a man planning a coup in Africa. The blueprint of this coup just so happened to resemble his novel to a T. Chris was placed in a maximum security prison at 18. He was imprisoned with a musician by the name of Fela Kuti who told him that, “Truth… is a risky business.”
In closing, Chris told us that he first became an activist to change the world, but as the years went on, he realized that he became an activist to change himself. He informed the audience that Nigeria is improving, slowly but surely.