Tuesday 23 May 2017

Manchester: Our humanity is our strength

21 years ago
On Saturday, the 15th of June 1996, I was visiting Manchester for the second time when just after 11:00 AM, I heard a very loud bang. I said to the man not far from me as I was on the towpath of the canal running through the centre of Manchester, “that sounds like a bomb”, he agreed.
Meanwhile, before the explosion, there were helicopters overhead and unbeknownst to me, there was already a warning about the bomb as the police had begun evacuating the town centre, but things did not seem to have an urgency around the situation.
Further on, a man had shards of glass fall on him, but he was not wounded, just shaken. There was no need to call the emergency services to his aid.
The revival
I left the canal towpath and walked into town and at Piccadilly Gardens I found a café where I decided to have a full English breakfast, it was open and serving meals even though the pavement outside was strewn with glass and debris.
It was almost an hour after that the police moved in to ask us to evacuate the place, we were moved out of the town centre and kept out for almost 10 hours before I could return to my hotel, late that night.
Whilst there were no fatalities there were 212 casualties, the centre of Manchester was rebuilt after that bombing that wreaked such great devastation on buildings and businesses.
Having been a resident of Manchester for over three years now, it is my home even if I don’t do much socially in the city apart from when I have guests. It is both a friendly and a hostile city, the latter is more evident in the somewhat parochial and insular native of the LGBTI community, it is easy to be unaffected and hence not belong, yet, and it does appear to have a thriving and bustling gay community.
A tragedy
Last night on the 22nd of May 2017, Ariana Grande whose music and career I have no inkling of was in town for a performance attended by kids, teenagers and some parents at the Manchester Arena, a venue that can host thousands. I know where the venue is, but I have never attended an event there before.
After her show, as her fans made to leave the venue, an explosive device was set off in the foyer, apparently triggered by a suicide bomber and between the danger caused by the bomb itself and the panic that ensued, 22 souls perished.
It is a very sad day for Manchester, I was not in town, but I caught wind of the tragedy on the news and through the night followed the developments as they unfolded.
It’s evil beyond words
There is only one to blame, the perpetrator who having lost the will to live had decided under the guise of a warped and misguided religious persuasion to commit such evil atrocity of dispatching himself from this mortal coil with the massacre of 22 innocent ones.
The sheer audacity and arrogance of a belief system that can constitute itself into judge and jury to determine in the stead of a deity who needs to live and who must die for the reward of paradise to the actor is plumbing the depths of inconceivable delusion, the fantasy of which there is no parallel.
To think that in killing the innocent anyone can appear before the courts of eternity and find vindication and exoneration just beggars belief. Yet, the instigators of this rotten criminality who set off brigands in jihadist and crusading fanfare would never subject themselves to the slightest privations as they sacrifice the gullible to manifestly evil exploits.
There is no cause that can justify murder, the murder of innocents is even more heinous and reprehensible, done in the name of religion, it must be so repulsive and repugnant to thought or concept, it is unmitigated cowardice by gutless cretins.
We will stand and memorialise
If there be an afterlife and a hell, the perdition that awaits them would be welcoming in its blaze, unrelenting in its torment and ruthless in its torture of every semblance of consciousness they might have. They will cry without respite and their bitterness will blacken them into darkness thick to the feeling and untrammelled foreboding, they will die continuously in pain and sorrow and yet not expire.
However, as we remain, they will not be remembered for our memory is for those who without fault were harmed needlessly and innocently. We will memorialise them and commemorate them as we unite in the celebration of our diverse humanity to comfort the survivors, bind the wounds of the wounded and unite in solidarity that none of the wickedness perpetrated on us would take root.
For Manchester, we would rise and stand for good and for life, we will not give up who we are, our freedom

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