We are our own government. We generate our own light, hustle for our own water, buy our own dogs for security, and patch our bad streets with gravels and stones…
In January, after the fuel subsidy removal strike had ended, I stopped a cab to finally get out of the house. It was an official green and white Abuja cab, driven by an obviously Yoruba driver. He had facial marks all the way to his ears and a King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall track was blaring from the stereo. When he said to me; “do you haff shange?” I smiled, “oh yes! I haff shange.” What wasn’t so amusing was that he had upped the fare from the usual ₦500.
Once I settled into the passenger’s seat, he began a conversation;
“Aunty, dis Nigeria ehn, it will still be beta o.” I laughed, “Like tell me about it.” The strike was over but there was still tension in the air. So I wondered what this man was seeing that I wasn’t.
I pondered on the state of things in the country. I reflected on the lies and backstabbing of the government. I pondered on the plight of the hungry Nigerian people who have nothing left to swallow but their pride. I remembered the tragic UN building bomb blast where I lost a loved one. So I wondered again what this cab man was seeing. What kept that glimmer of hope alive?
Mind rambling, the thoughts played out steadily. About folks walking miles to fetch water that were barely drinkable and avoidable deaths on the highway because the money for fixing the road has been shared by a few. Young people almost give up on life and living because of strikes, and Nigerians deteriorating in hospitals because of the anemic health care system.
But then, it hit me – despite all these we have survived. In enduring hardship we gained strength and thrived. Never mind inflation, we have drunk our garri without groundnut or sugar but still have agile Olympian bodies to show for it. Amongst us are graduates who studied with candles and rumbling tummies but can match their counterparts anywhere in the world. We have been forced to mature and grow up without any support.
We are our own government. We generate our own light, hustle for our own water, buy our own dogs for security, patch our bad streets with gravels and stones so we can drive through. We don’t know when Boko Haram will strike again but we still diligently go to work and conduct our businesses. Muslim brothers keep watch of Christians and Christians do the same in fear of violence, but as the only means to secure ourselves.
We have been through it all and still we stand. Perhaps this is the hope on the cab man’s face and that of countless other Nigerians—that it can never get worse than this. I dare to call us heroes, because only heroes stand defiant against all odds.
As I flag another green and white cab to go home, my thoughts are about some who died unfortunately in the struggles, but how the rest of us have kept the faith. We continue to smile and hope, perhaps to ensure that those who died did not die in vain. Whatever reason it is we hope, we have survived together and for this I am very proud.
I observe at the cab man and this time he is Hausa with no facial marks, there is no music from his stereo and there is no conversation between us. But as I inhale the signature ‘aboki mallam’ scents, I am overwhelmed with hope. I smile and think to myself; “this Nigeria ehn, it will still be beta o…”
Temitope Shittu-Alamu, is a writer, an eclectic public speaker and master of ceremonies with a degree in History and International Relations. Passionate about the media and of a strong believe that “it is my platform to building the Nigeria of my dreams”. I host a yearly Christmas show on television.
I love God, I love people.
Did I mention that I love garri. Wow, it keeps me going. BLOG; http://eclectictope.wordpress.com/