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DEAR NJIDEKA (Independence Day Edition)

DEAR NJIDEKA (Independence Day Edition)

DEAR NJIDEKA,

It’s been twenty years since you and Lola left us. Twenty years since a driver ran both of you over to avoid potholes. We had just returned from school and were buying our favourite candy at Iya Kanyi’s shed when it happened. The thud of your bodies bouncing off the car’s bonnet was all I heard. When I looked back, you had stopped smiling. At first, I thought you were playing dead. In no time, a crowd had gathered at our house. I didn’t quite understand but when I asked Mama where you and Lola were, fresh tears rolled down her cheeks as she told us you had gone to a better place. 

Twenty years on and not much has changed, the potholes are still there, spreading like cancer. The country hasn’t improved and the government isn’t helping much either. I passed by our old neighbourhood and found it surprising that they still don’t have access to electricity. We had to relocate when I was down with cholera. The doctor said it was “bad water”. We knew he was right since we all drank from the stream very close to the factory that produces toiletries, the same stream where we wash clothes.  

I finally secured a job after years of being a jobless graduate. Papa had to call a friend who knew a friend that knew someone. The pay is good, though it had been arranged that I would give up twenty per cent of my monthly income for the next eight months.

I ran into your old friend, Akpan, a few days ago. After asking about his work, he reluctantly told me he is making money from the internet. His demur and uneasiness gave me all the answers I needed, so I didn’t ask further. He said he searched for a job for years and when he could not get a good one, a friend “showed him the way”. It doesn’t take a mind-reader to know that the way he was referring about was internet scam or as we call it, “yahoo-yahoo”. 

Remember Halima? She was my friend in secondary school and her father worked with NITEL. After NITEL was sold, her father was out of the job and died a few years later of depression. Being the first child, she shouldered the responsibility of taking care of the family with her mother. She dropped out of school and became a “runz girl”. She was able to finance her siblings’ education and she is doing well for herself now. Nobody cares where the money comes from as long as she is living the “good life”. The country’s economy is extremely bad and it takes the grace of God to stay fed. A lot of youths are leaving the country for greener pasture since the government has reserved the greenness of the land for itself.

Tobi left for Canada to continue life as a medical doctor. I spoke with him and he complained about being treated less and bullied because of his skin colour and descent. A kid that lives down his street regularly calls him a monkey whenever he sees him. Chinwe, on the other hand, is in Europe, pursuing her career as an engineer. She had to work twice as hard to be treated fairly. She never goes out alone at night for fear of being assaulted. “Being black and a female is quite scary,” she says. 

By the way, this year is one of the most epic and eventful years we have had and the highlight of those events is the Covid-19 Pandemic. A virus that can only be defeated by staying indoors and social-distancing from people – stay away from the next man to stay alive. The heroes were the health workers who fought relentlessly, some lost their lives in the process. We now have to wear a mask before leaving the house, making us feel like Batman or Green Arrow. I went to a bank a few days ago and I could not believe I was wearing a mask into a bank

However, it has not been all bad. The country has evolved and developed. We have produced heroes that are breaking the barrier of colour and the stereotype definition of a Nigerian outside our shores. A Nigerian recently became the Minister of Justice in Canada. We have Nigerians like Anthony Joshua, Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman wining in their various sporting events. We still throw the best parties and we the young Nigerians still know how to band together against a common enemy. Just ask the South Africans. 

We now have better schools, even though the standard ones are very expensive and unaffordable by an average or lower-class man. We keep souring in the entertainment world as a good number of our artists have a large fan base internationally. Don’t even let me get into the number of new dance steps we learn every year. There is one they call leg-work, I really love the dance, but despite my effort, my two right feet won’t let me get it. 

E be things, Nigeria no balance,” and we are all contributing to the ruin. We cheat ourselves and violate reasonable laws put in place to make life easier for us. Some of us still run a red light, inflate prices to make greedy profits, deface walls and dump refuse without care, with little or no regard for the law. We impatiently cause traffic on the road and act without considering others. 

But even in this dark time we still find a way to “chop life because problem no dey finish”. I hope to go out later today to have a good time, relish on the days gone by and hope for a better tomorrow. 

Please extend my love to all our childhood friends who left before we became adults. To all the beautiful souls, with mind-blowing dreams, nature called back too early because they were too pure for this world, tell them life misses them and we hope Nigeria gets better.”

God Bless Nigeria!

DHESERT CHEQUER & S.A. TRINITY

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3 Responses

  1. Huuuuu, truly we are all to be blamed for the ruins. Let all make amends for better Nigeria. God bless Nigeria.

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