By Femi Fani-Kayode
The warrior is noble and strong. His resolve is firm and his commitment is total. His is to kill, to shed blood and to be killed. His is to die for his king and for a worthy cause. His is to protect and lay down his life for his faith, his nation, his people and his loved ones.
What manner of men are these whose spirit speak of such valour and nobility? Consider the ancient Spartans and the Roman warriors of old. Consider the fearsome Vikings who believed that it was a curse to die a peaceful death and that the only way to heaven was to die violently and heroically in fearsome battle. Consider the greatest of all warriors that ever lived, the noble and gallant Achilles.
Consider Alexander the Great who conquered the world with his sword. Consider King David, the greatest of all the kings of Israel, who was a man of blood and war and yet whom God so loved and who loved God more than any other.
Consider David’s “strongmen” who stood with him through thick and thin and who fought for and protected him to the very end. Consider their gallant captain, the mighty Joab and the others, Abishai, Asahel, Eleazer, the Tachomonite, Shammah, Benaiah, Eliam, Igal and Uriah the Hittite.
These were David’s ”strongmen”: all great and valient men of war whose courage was legendary and whose loyalty to their God and their King was unflinching and unquestionable.
Consider Shaka the Zulu, Beowulf the Nordic king and William Wallace the liberator of Scotland. Consider King Henry V of England who routed the French at the battle of Agincourt even though he was outnumbered by three men to one.
Consider Julius Caesar who came, who saw and who conquered. Consider the great Heracles who was a descendant of the mighty Hercules himself. Consider Spartacus, who turned slaves into men. Consider Samson, who slew a troop with the jaw bone of an ass and yet who fell at the touch of a woman.
Consider Gideon who slew the Midianites, Jeptha who sacrificed his own daughter, Joshua who brought down the walls of Jericho and Jehu, who drove his chariot like a madman, who slew the witch-Queen Jezebel and who fulfilled prophesy by ensuring that the dogs ate her flesh and licked her blood in the valley of Jezreel.
Consider those that laid down their lives for our great and noble faith: Paul of Tarsus, the greatest of all the apostles, who brought the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the gentiles and to the wider world.
Peter the disciple, who became the rock on whom the Church of God was built. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, Stephen, Isaiah, Elijah, Daniel, John and all the other disciples and prophets of old.
For martyrs and heroes that lived and died for God are also gallant warriors who feared not death and who stood firm to the end in defense of their faith.
Consider George Washington who led his troops into battle and whose war cry was “victory or death”. Consider the charge of the Light Brigade, the courage of the 600, at the battle of Balaclava in the fields of the Crimea. Consider the Ikemba, Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu who resisted genocide and who established Biafra. Consider Isaac Boro, the champion of the Delta, who rejected tyranny and who fought for his people. Consider Ken Saro-Wiwa whose prose moved mountains and who refused to bow to a dictator. Consider Moshood Abiola, who defied the oppressor and who died a martyr.
Consider Patrice Lumumba who died for his country, John Jerry Rawlings who liberated a generation, Thomas Sankara who stood for Africa and Malcom X who brought dignity to his people. Consider Robespierre, Marat and the heroes of the French revolution who defied kings and queens and who watered the tree of liberty with blood. Consider Muammar Ghaddafi, who empowered his people, Gamal Abdel Nasser, who gave hope to the Arab, Fidel Castro, who broke the yoke of bondage and Nelson Mandela who brought joy to millions. Consider Toussaint L’Ouverture who freed the slaves of Haiti and who established a proud black nation.
Consider General Lee at the battle of Gettysburg, Oliver Cromwell at the battle of Nasby, Horatio Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar and King Leonidas, with his gallant ”300”, at the battle of Thermopylae. Consider Generals Marshal, Patton, Eisenhower, Rommel and MacArthur in the great battles of the Second World war. Consider the ”Black Scorpion”, General Benjamin Adekunle, with his 3rd Marine Commando at the Battle of Ore.
Consider Zhukov at the siege of Leningrad and his courageous exploits at the battle of Moscow. Consider Bernard Montgomery, with his fearless ”Desert Rats”, at the battle of Alamein, Charles De Gaulle at the siege of Paris and Chang Kai-Shek in the war against Japan. Consider Attila the Hun, Ghengis Khan, Peter the Great, Richard the Lion-heart, Salahudeen the Compassionate, Katsumoto the Samurai, Hannibal of Carthage and Hector of Troy.
Consider our gallant amazons and female warriors of old- Boadicea of East Anglia, Joan D’Arc of France, Elizabeth 1 of England, Amina of Zaria, Moremi of Ife, Golda Meir of Israel, Margret Thatcher of Great Britain, Indira Ghandi of India, Queen Idia of Benin, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, Queen Esther of the Medes and Persians, Cleopatra of the Blue Nile and Egypt and Yaa Asantewaa of the Ashanti Kingdom.
Consider Generals Foche and Hague at the battle of the Somme. Consider George Armstrong Custer at the battle of the Little Big Horn, the Duke of Wellington at the battle of Waterloo and Napoleon Bonaparte, in his full glory and power, at the battle of Marengo.
Had these great men and women all not stood their ground and had they all not played their role in our collective history, where would the world be today? They sacrificed their today so that we may have our tomorrow.
They lived and died for the sake of others and asked for only one thing in return: that their names should live forever and that we should never forget their noble deeds and their worthy sacrifices.
And we must not forget, nay we dare not forget, for as Martin Luther King once said “if a man is not ready to die for something, then he is not worthy of living for anything”. The warrior is prepared to die for his cause. That is what makes him so noble and that is why he will always have a special place in our hearts.
May the spirit of the warrior and selfless courage fill us all and, like the true warriors that we are meant to be, when the angel of death comes may the Lord give us the strength and boldness to look at him fearlessly in the face and treat him with the contempt and disdain that he deserves- knowing that he has lost his sting and that, by the power of Christ Jesus, he has been conquered and crushed.
When the dark angel comes, as come he must for us all, let us be men and let us die a good death, not cringing and crying like puppies, but like true warriors, fighting to the bitter end. For it is never for the warrior to ask the why: it is only for the warrior to do or die.
The warrior does not vanish into the night. The warrior will not go down without a fight.