Their friendship with the corridor of power is the curse that drives us towards the escape route, which leads to any land behind the ocean.-WOBB
In our place, we heard the story of how our forefathers fell in love with Westerners and adopted their faith and education. The epic narration of how they fought the fight of faith and brought down the altar of Babel at the expense of sojourning in the heart of the forest far away from the sight of their fathers and relatives’ wrath remains the pride of those who have acknowledged the call of God over their life.
We grew up with a sense of belonging to education. In our schools with perforated roof and doorless entrance, we exuded pride in the euphoria of the world of intellectualism our scholarly fathers’ exploits painted in our memory. The tale of how professor Lapade and emeritus professor Gbenro played football with Barrister Akinwumi on the pitch in the compound of Baptist Primary School in the year 1935 was our inspiration. It was always sweet to mention, during argument with colleagues residing at the other end of our town boundary, how our king tutored their king. Is there anyone who wouldn’t enjoy the prestige of rapping the biography of great men whose names he knows and whose faces he knows not?
Every morning, we lined up to sing the national anthem with our imagination illuminated with the bright sun of the future telling us where we would be and how we would drive to Ilé-ìmò every Christmas in our exotic car and modest dress to give a 500 naira note as token of visitation to the Hut of our grandmother’s sister’s daughter’s husband. We knew the future would be sweet. What we didn’t know or imagine was how we would bounce into that future and live our dreams.
Our school system didn’t affect our dream. With teachers who enjoyed the solemn breeze of nature and the whistling melody of birds under the mango tree close to the laboratory instead of teaching in class, we were always happy to harvest yam from the school farm which will serve their appetite for pounded yam and egusi. Their prayers were very important for us to succeed. Promotion to the next class was our right and we got it for free. We wrote exam and didn’t need a remark to state whether we are moving to the next class or not. What was important was to know the next class. Our honourable would count it an honour to buy jamb form for those among us who belong to his political party once we are ready to write jamb.
His kind gesture is worthy of appreciation every time. Even the king, to show gratitude really need to think of a chieftaincy title that will capture his kind heart for service. Let’s say a chieftaincy title like òre ará ìlú (friend of the masses). This is important to keep him informed that his good works are appreciated by all the members of my town. Although, his children are in British Model Queen’s College, he found it necessary to look towards our slum and contribute to our academic progress.
Jamb result doesn’t favour us. I don’t know how they are graded. It is like a conspiracy by JAMB examiners to punish us for lacking enough teachers and diligent few ones to equip us for future examinations where no Samaritan will have the grace to stand in front to call out the right answer to each question. Today, 60% of my classmates have graduated from Colleges of Education that mostly had mercy on them. Out of pity and desire for profit, they presented an alternative admission that doesn’t give regard to JAMB result. Choosing Akande College of Education was the best shot for most of them to obtain a certificate without merit. What happened to most of them after College is what our parents have prayed against in church. I remember Pastor Olaadura raising the prayer point; “every spirit that stand in my way for progress, in the way of my children, in the way of my wife or husband, die by the fire of the Holy Ghost.” I learnt that majority of them have enrolled for a skill acquisition program to make ends meet while some still contemplate on whether to join a political party or a party of yahoo boys.
I am yet to tell you about the remaining 40%. Out of the remaining 40%, majority females, most have considered marriage through the use of polythene bag. After a series of corner corner copulation, their red flag refused to show, their belly began to puff, their mama became concerned and decided to probe. After much probe, the sowers behind the wondrous change in their body structure were invited and implored to take responsibility and these girls all migrated to their respective marital lodges. The fruits of their wombs frolic on the street of Ilé-ìmò as I write now.
I am among the remaining 10%. Among us, we have young boys and girls who swore to live the dreams they nurtured while standing on the assembly in Baptist Community College. They are seen as the future professors while their counterparts who have left to immerse themselves in the world of hustling are the beacon of hope for financial independence of their friends, parents, close and distant relatives.
What we didn’t know when elders visited our school to feed us with their epic tales was the ugly future that were being built without our knowledge. Last week, I visited my lecturer. In class, she always painted a picture of a tomorrow lit with brightly glowing stars of greatness that is available for the best brains. This made the quest for academic success a brutal competition. Many focused on books and got distracted from seeing future professional partners.
“Of what relevance is the hope in a giant with weak legs to stand?” I asked in soliloquy when she advised us to look towards the West and see the possibility of a greener pasture. This greener pasture is the safest route of escape from our current reality. If a country refuses to give future to her future, wouldn’t it be wise for the future to consider an alternative escape route to quest for a well-deserved future?
Today, all of us who were inspired by the story of our forerunners have seen a light at the end of a tunnel that leads to the West. African boys and girls like me are adventurers on the quest for a life outside this refugee camp. Many have tarried in different places of worship looking up to Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith for a visa. The determined ones, though generally seen as desperate, take the most deadly route of Libya. The lucky ones escape eventually while the unfortunate ones, as if with a determined ancestral curse in their company, end up in the jaw of African slave masters who emerged after the deadly deposition of colonel Ghaddafi.
Let Europe or America open her border for us and see how empty the black land will become. Wouldn’t you choose a zone that despises the colour of your skin above a zone where poverty wars with your future the same way violence war with your life?
Written by Winlade Israel.