By Valentine Obianyanwu
7th April, 2019
France wept when Notre Dame Cathedral burnt. The fall of the spire of the Cathedral was a despairing sight for the many people from all over the world who love arts, beauty, history or Christian religion.
New York Times records Pierre Guillaume Bonnet who likened the disasters to death. “It is like losing a member of one’s own family”. “For me there are so many memories tied up in it”, he said of the cathedral.
The first reaction to the disaster which shocked me was the reaction of the government. French president, Emmanuel Macron, was to deliver a speech to the nation to address national concerns which has led to the yellow vest protest in France since last year.
The protests confronts Macron’s economic policies and this is a long waited response to restore the people’s confidence in Macron. But Macron decided to sideline the response even though it would step up the precarious confidence his people had in him.
Second: the fire fighters put their life in the line to save what they held to be irreplaceable if ever totally lost. Among them was Fr. Fournier, chaplain of firefighters, who told news men that he went into the fire to save the Blessed Sacrament and the Crown of Thorns of Jesus Christ kept in the Cathedral. Imagine Such bravery?
Third: People gathered relatively close to the burning Gothic masterpiece watching with tears in eyes prayed hard, even singing “Ave Marie” instead of running commentaries and taking selfies to show the world that they were merely present when the Cathedral burnt.
Fourth: French people started donating money immediately to see to it that the ruins was restored immediately in the closest possible time. The richest people in France, Arnault and Pinault families contributed sums around 300 million Euro within 24 hrs to salvage the situation and to give hope to their mourning French people. Even @Andre Rieu donated his 700 tons of steel for the scaffold to restore the place. Total offered 100million Euro and Bettencourt-Scheuller Foundation gave 200 million Euro. Michelin, tire makers, pledged huge sum, amongst others contributors. Note that there was no formal gathering for launching. Yet according to Ron Perelman almost a billion dollars has been pledged to rebuild Notre Dame de Paris. And he says it excites him “to see people at their best, most generous, most positive…” And Antonio Tajani, President of European Parliament, has called on 751 members to donate their days salary to restoring Notre Dame.
Fifth: Reactions from European nations led by Donald Tusk is such incredible. In the heat of the after fire from Notre Dame, Tusk charges Europe world to see beyond material assistance to France in rebuilding the Cathedral. For him, the fallen spire of Notre Dame reminds them that what unites them in Europe “is more important and more profound than mere treaties”, showing that mindset is everything.
These leave me with the questions:
1. Is there any place in Africa which attracts as much tourists as 13 million which Notre Dame Cathedral attracts in a year?
2. Will our President forego his planed speech to defend himself and his policies or stop his international visits because something Nigerians hold high is under attack?
3. Who will put his life on line for Nigeria or national interest? ..even for religious interest?
4. What do you do when tragedy strikes? Wail and complain? Blame and Or do the best you can?
5. Will you donate money, time or resources in freewill to save your country?
6. Is there such a loyalty for your country as exhibited in France?
7. Europe and America is almost invincible and unconquerable. What about Africa ? If we loss something as important to us as Notre Dame, will it ever be restored? These are issues which keep give me concern.
©Valentine Obianyanwu http://facebook.com/obianyanwu.valentine