by Temie Giwa
The other reason I have spent my life wandering around the world is to take up a chance to make my fortune and I am still work in progress. I assume most people who leave their homes have similar reasons.
It happened Wednesday afternoon at around 5pm on the Lekki-Epe expressway. A young boy or perhaps a young man who probably made his way to Lagos a while ago to try and get a share of the Lagos dream, was on the side of the highway attempting to make true on his dream. Simultaneously, a tipper filled with concrete used to build the many mansions lining the expressway was also on the same street. A broken brake and the tipper grabbed our young friend feet up, trapping him underneath massive steel and death across the highway. I tried to call emergency number but my phone had died and soon the bus drove past the carnage and the crowd but I could not stop thinking about our friend.
What brought him to Lagos? Who is he? What are his dreams? How did he find Lagos? Where did he stay? Why could he not save himself and build a life in his village?
If you ask a member of the new Lagos middle class what he or she thinks what her or his government should do about the thousands of hawkers on the street of Lagos, he or she might tell you that they should all be expelled out of Lagos. “Let them go back to their villages and farm” many of them will say. “Farming is very lucrative” some will add. No offence to farmers but I am always shocked when I hear this. Perhaps its because my story is only possible in a world open to immigrants.
My father is from Ondo State, but his father made a life in ile-Ife, married 2 women and built a house in Moore. His son also married a woman from Ife and made a life in Ila-Orangun and Ibadan. I was born in Ila-Orangun but spent my life all over the world. From an obscure town in Osun State to the South of Nigeria, mid-western America, Northern Nigeria, Europe, East Africa, and then back to Lagos. When people ask me what I am looking for, I tell them I am curious about the world and that I wish to take a little piece of the history of the world and keep it for myself. The other reason I have spent my life wandering around the world is to take up a chance to make my fortune and I am still work in progress. I assume most people who leave their homes have similar reasons.
Last year, Nigerians outside the country sent N21 billion back home. Millions if Nigerians who call Nations outside their own country fully expect to make a living in these countries and to be treated with as much dignity as any other citizen or resident of these countries, as they should. Yet once the recipients of class privilege hear that others might wish to gain for themselves all they have, they claim that the Lagos dream to make something of your life and get rich fast should only belong to those of their class. Irony but understandable irony.
So suppose a young man is ready to make a life for himself and his future family. Unfortunately for him he was born and lives far from the political and economic hubs in Nigeria? What are his options? He has no way of paying for college. He has no ancestral land to farm. He understands that access to fertile land in rural areas is fraught with historical drama and futility. Even if he has fertile land, he can only make do with subsistence farming and no one ever makes it big that way. He has no factory to get a job at. He cannot afford to pay to earn a trade. The thing left for him is to make his way to Lagos or Abuja and live where he can, sell what he can, wherever he can. It is not easy to go back to his village and he knows it so he stays in the city and attempts to get a piece of the Lagos dream.
So our friend came to Lagos like thousands of Nigerians also go out of Nigeria to attempt to make their dreams come true. My hope for our friend is that he gets to save his leg and life and that he finds whatever it is brought him to Lagos. This is what we all want. And today my thought goes to that hapless guy underneath the tipper on the Lekki expressway, dead to the world and to all his hopes.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.