Godfrey Akozi: I survived against all odds [Nigerian Voices]

by Godfrey Akozi

The events that preceded my birth and the ones that followed till this day are worth sharing. My dad forcefully divorced a pregnant wife after six months of marriage 26 years ago. This was a young beautiful lady, whose education was cut short by her illiterate parents when my dad appeared from nowhere and proposed to have their daughter’s hand in marriage. He promised to be responsible for her education, as he was from the city (Ibadan, Nigeria).

This unsuspecting young lady never knew she was about making perhaps the biggest mistake in her life. She succumbed to her parents’ wish after fierce pressure. This pregnant woman was brutally beaten as my dad forcefully drove her down to the village. Three months later, I was born. My grandmother became responsible for my upkeep. No paternal family member at sight until I was 10 years old. I was already getting used to village life and I was beginning to believe I was fatherless.

As time flew, my mum remarried to a man in the village. On December 26th, the year I could barely remember right now, surfaced my dad, claiming he wants to take me to the city. I became excited as a kid even when I barely knew him. To travel to the city was fashionable. My mum would not accept, but she was told the culture forbids her dragging a male child with the father. I arrived Ibadan with my dad.

I would not be allowed to stay in the house alone, so my dad took me to one of his female subscribers to stay with, somewhere in the city of Ibadan. One year later, my dad remarried a lady in the city and I was made to return home. My step mum perhaps saw me as a rival and no sooner than I arrived the house, we became cat and dog. I enjoyed the beating of my life as I was made to do all the available household chores. I became a slave in my father’s house.

In trying to survive, I was becoming resistant and was beginning to put up fights at interval with my step mum. My dad was eventually transferred to Warri, Southern Nigeria. He now comes to Ibadan once every month. While I fought with my step mum, I would flee the house in the morning and return late at night. I met a friend in the church, whose house became my solace. I will come in the morning, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner before leaving. My education was at a standstill at this point. My future was already looking shattered with no iota of hope. Once I arrived the house late at night, I would climb the fence to enter the compound but the courage to enter our apartment at that time of the night had waned. I adopted a strategy, I started sleeping inside an abandoned vehicle within the compound. I would enter the compound late at night and leave 5am. This I did for about five months, with no one suspecting.

However, I had a challenge in entering the house on nights when there was light. Instead, I would go to a nearby public secondary school to sleep in one of the classrooms. While this continued, neither my step mum nor my dad was concerned about my where about.  As the popular saying, ‘everyday for the thief, one day for the owner’ I had to pass the night in an hairdresser’s shop close to the house. This was the night I was caught by the night guards, who where forcefully pulling me down to the road junction where most caught suspects where wasted (killed) as at that time. I started screaming on top of my voice, calling for help, as I was not a criminal.

One of the landlords on the street woke up and came out to my aid. He probed who I was and ordered the night guards to stop beating me. This old man, whom I could not recognise after that night, accompanied the night guards and took me to the house. The gate was heavily knocked and our landlord was awake who came outside to find out what was going on. I was taken in and our Landlord summoned my dad immediately. I would not go in with my dad I submitted but our landlord pleaded my dad not to beat me or threaten me in anyway, as I was already psychologically imbalanced. The following morning, my dad took me back to the village to stay with his elder brother and warned me never to visit my mum. Of course, I could not trace the way to my mum’s village as I could barely know the direction.

However, the news got to my mum that I arrived my paternal village. My mum payed several visits. I became used to village life again. For three years, no education. I became a farmer, while my dad and his love, enjoyed life in the city. As God would have it, two of my maternal aunties came to my paternal village and forcefully took me to my maternal village on the ground that their elder sister cannot have a son dropped out of school for whatever reason.

I started school again, but I was already over aged. I completed my primary and secondary school education on their bills, with my dad nowhere to be found. I completed my secondary education and eventually gained admission into the university of Ibadan. I obtained a bachelors degree in zoology after four years, as I work and study, with my dad in the same city. I was luckily posted to Lagos State for the mandatory one year national service (NYSC), in 2013. I taught in secondary school during my service and the school management decided to employ me as a staff after my mandatory one year national service. I worked with the school for a year, after which I enrolled for a master degrees programme at my alma mater (U.I) in 2015. As I write, I am soon to complete a master degree programme in Animal Physiology, as I am in my final semester.

All thanks to God.

This entry was submitted as part of the Nigerian Voices competition organized by YNaija.com.

We publish, un-edited, Nigerians telling the stories of their everyday lives. Read all the narratives daily on the Nigerian Voices vertical. You can also contribute your own story titled ‘Nigerian Voices’ to [email protected]


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