All through human history, men of great minds have acted on life’s stage with the main weapon being their consciences.

Nnamdi Azikiwe(DR)

Men of conscience abhor tyranny and suppression of the human spirit. In fact, they are so obsessed with their beliefs, that they even prefer to die than to compromise their consciences.



Conversely, most mortals prefer to toe the line and are generally safe from the wrath of the system in their milieu. They are, however, people who live a routine existence and never leave their imprints on the sands of time.

Bola Ige(SAN)

This group of people are considered weak if they do not rock the establishment’s boat. The point is that, if the boat is rocked, the disturbance and disorientation of some power blocks and vested interests become inevitable. Thus, the system descends on the individuals with vengeance; all backed by the full legal weight of the system.


The deliberate and systemic sanction can eventually lead to the elimination of the individual if he persists in the ‘’deviant’’ behaviour.

Marcus Garvey

Martyrs are aware of this phenomenon and they are adamant –they prefer death to giving up their cause. In most human environments, the act of tyranny and oppression exist. The degree of tyranny is what, however, distinguishes enlightened societies from the evolving ones.

Steve Biko

While in enlightened societies, some elements of tyranny will want to impose their will on the larger society, in the final analysis, the voice of reason prevails. Not so, in developing or under-developed societies.

Nelson Mandela

Why men of high intellectual and moral consciousness decide to give up their lives for a cause, is a reason for celebration of the human spirit. Because, without these mortals, human society would remain oppressive and barbaric.



The fear of dying is not in death itself. Death can transcend physical non-existence; it can even mean the death of the conscience. Since, in the final analysis, one lives, if he or she satisfies the conscience that life’s goals or missions are fulfilled.


Mallam Aminu Kano

Most people really do not live; they live according to the dictates of society or peer groups.


Is it then desirable or not, to die for a cause?  This is not a question that can easily be answered. One factor is paramount, and that is,  if one champions and dies for a cause, the cause dies gradually after him.



The fact that the martyr is gone easily translates to a situation whereby his cause is watered down by his successors. No two persons are alike and thus, the vacuum created can never be filled. It is a common saying, that ‘dead men don’t bite’.


A cursory look at some of our great men whose lives were sacrificed will reveal the point that causes die a little with their protagonists.


Great men like Marcus Garvey with his ‘’Back to Africa’’ vision for blacks in the diaspora, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X,  Indira Gandhi, Obafemi Awolowo, Bola Ige, Aminu Kano, Gani Fewehinmi, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, the highly intellectual Walter Rodney and a host of others, all died for one cause or the other.

Malcolm X

While our lives are a little bit tolerable because of their human activities, there is, however, no gainsaying the fact, that idolizing the dead by the living, takes precedence over the cause they died for.


Statues, books, and memoirs are written singing their praises. There is no attempt made by the living to emulate their worthy causes except, to intellectualise about their works! This is not good enough. These men gave up their lives for us to continue the good works and not to sing their praises alone.



As mentioned earlier, weak-minded people abound and they feel it safer to sing praises than get involved in activities that will irritate the power that be. Even some fear to give constructive criticism. The irony of it all is that without these weak minds, tyrants will not even be free or have access to the power they wield ruthlessly and indiscriminately.



If death does not rid society of these great minds, probably, the world will be a better place to live in. No one is immortal, same with the mission of the martyrs . This state of affairs has continuously tormenting man till today.



If we look At the life and times of our Lord Jesus Christ, the same holds true. Even  Christ predicted that his cause would be misused and debased by opportunists who would parade themselves as His messengers. The present-day reality in our society buttresses this fact.


It is vital to wonder about these great men and women and what propels or motivates them. Theories and speculations abound about forces that drive them to dedicate their lives to the upliftment of the human spirit, and their societies.



The reason is that great men look at societies and the ideals behind them. They wonder if the ideals are in consonance with the reality of the society. In developing their minds, they see inconsistencies and wonder why. These inconsistencies then become a rallying point for their mission which they pursue tenaciously, even, if it will cost them their lives. Their personal lives become subjugated to the larger ideals of a more livable society.



Tyrants, on the other hand, are more inclined to maintain the uneven status quo owing to the preponderance of scarce resources  in any given society. This is more glaring in developing societies that are unable to provide basic amenities for their people. These resources are then used as patronage by tyrants to ensure compliance with their rules or dictates.


It is easier to placate the ruler by singing his praises than pitching camp against him; people do not need much conviction on this score.



Martyrs die and their causes die gradually with them. Other men of conscience rise and take over with their own style in relation to the constantly changing realities and needs of the times.

Martin Luther King (Jr)

Statues are built, autobiographies written and streets named after them. The fact still remains that they are dead and they can no longer articulate their ideas for a just and livable human community. Morbidity then ensures that the protagonists of a worthy cause are silenced forever.



By-Tunde Idowu

Publisher, The Interviews Nigeria