by Adeboro Odunlami
Do not get me wrong, I believe in a working news reporting system. I am constantly impressed by Nigerians who abruptly pause their journey to work or church, to stand by a Newspaper stand, read headlines and argue with their fellow curious and concerned Nigerians.
Sometimes, however, I wonder why most of these people go so far away to find out what’s happening in the country; how they never see that the news that make it to the bold headlines start in a small backyard somewhere where they live.
Like Mr. Sunday, my neighbor here at Oworonshoki. Yesterday, I heard him from behind my kitchen window talking to his wife. ‘Mama Rasheedi, come here now.’
His wife strutted towards him with a look on her face that screamed What-Stupid-Thing-Do-You-Want-To-Say-Again-You-Stupid-Man. He spat out phlegm and said, ‘I was talking with Tunde my friend yesterday and somehow somehow, he mentioned that you told him that I come home late and don’t assist my children with their assignment. Do you have anything to say to that?’
She almost rolled her eyes before she said, ‘I didn’t tell him, I told his wife.’ Mr. Sunday had a bewildered look on his face, then laughed a little and said, ‘Tunde or his wife, what is the difference? What’s their business with the way I conduct my affairs? Now listen carefully woman, if you think you don’t have anything else to do with your time, remember that there’s a kitchen that needs to be tended to. Is that clear?’ He did not wait for her to finish speaking before he turned up the volume of his radio. The newscaster’s voice reporting on the Buhari-Aisha saga filled the neighborhood.
Again, take the Association of tenants in my estate as another example. We contribute N5,000 to the estate’s account every month, and two men, Mr. Jones and Barrister Okuji, run the account in trust for the estate’s interests which could range from general road repair to assisting a family with food items. Anyway, early hours of Saturday morning, we all get texts that we’re to meet at the Estate Hall for an urgent meeting. Upon getting there, we learn that the boys and girls of our Youth Division had, the night before, broken into the houses of both Mr. Jones and Barrister Okuji to recover large sums of cash which they highly suspected to be the estate’s money. The young boys and girls protest that they have solid proof of theft by these two men and that they did nothing wrong by breaking into their houses. According to them, ‘An unjust action has no right to request for a just means of seeking it out.’ While the elderly men and friends of Mr. Jones and Barrister Okuji contend that the youths went way out of hand, were very disrespectful and did not follow due process in trying to achieve the justice they sought to achieve. According to them, ‘An unjust means to a just end is injustice in itself.’ After the meeting, some of us gathered in clusters to talk about the DSS and the Nigerian Judges bust.
And finally, take my second neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Okafor as a third example. They hired an underage girl as their maid two years ago and since then, they have neither let her go home for holidays nor indeed given her a chance to quit her job. Whenever I can, I tell Mrs. Okafor that it’s not legal to have a child working for her, but her constant reply is, ‘Who is complaining? If she’s not working here, she would be prostituting somewhere. I’m helping her life.’ But often times, I have had discussions with the girl and she has given me a lot of insight into the way she’s been treated maltreated by the Okafors. She says that they barely feed her twice a day; they don’t buy her new clothes unless the ones she has wear or tear badly; they give her toilet paper to use as her sanitary towel and when she complains, Mrs. Okafor gives her the beating of her life; they also never let her go home to see her parents. Mrs. Okafor threatens that if she does go home, she must not dream of coming back to the house again.
But just yesterday morning, I heard Mr. and Mrs. Okafor talking about the release of the Chibok girls as they went out. ‘Ah! Thank God o. Those Boko Haram men, God will punish them. All these years! Only God knows what those girls have suffered. I’m praying for their healing o. And the rest of them will come back. Amen.’ Mrs. Okafor said
‘Amen’, said Mr. Okafor as he locked the door of his house; a miniature Sambisa forest, in a miniature Nigeria.
Adeboro is a graduate of Law, a photographer and a collector of experiences. You probably, most likely, already know her.