Excursion: Growing up,  this was the Nigeria I knew – By Echefuna’ R. G. ONYEBEADI

⁩While on excursion with fellow “A” level classmates  back in the years, our school Bus broke down on the way to the North. I can’t  remember the precise location now but I know it was a bush at the precinct of a very small community on our way to Jos from Abuja. We were coming from OSCAS, Ife. Should be around 8pm. One woman passed by us on foot with what I knew then as “lantern”. We were like 17 boys and 10 girls.
The woman, about 40ish or so, greeted in the local language we couldn’t relate to, but we reckoned easily her gesture was warm even dimlit atmosphere. She walked away. We were there, stranded and helpless as our Bus Driver, fiddled around under the Bus with a poorly lit touch-light. It was harmattan and the cold was ripping through us.  About 30 minutes later, a man walked towards us with the same woman from the direction she was earlier headed. They had a torchlight this time. The man spoke sparing pidgin. Said his wife told him “some children are in the bush on the road and in danger”.
He told us to follow him and “let us all manage my little place”.
We had no choice. That was the only flicker of hope for us or we’ll sleep in the Bus in the bush.
We all followed him to his hut as it turned out.
This man brought out two Big mats, then went to his neighbors and asked for more mats which they gladly obliged. These were spread for us right in front of the door into his Hut. Two neighbours came out, greeted us and asked where we were coming from? We said Ife. One man said “oh, Yoroba bah?”. (oh you’re Yorubas?)
We said Yes. He laughed delightedly and told us to “*feel free you hie*?”. We laughed and said thank you sir.
Next thing, These two people withdrew a bit from us and were having a very private conversation and then walked away together within same neighborhood. Two girls amongst us on the mat were somewhat agitated. We told them to calm down and added, “what can you really do anyway if we’re already in danger?”.
Next thing we saw. They emerged with a big goat screaming in their hands. They slaughtered the goat and our real host called his wife to do something we didn’t understand as they spoke their local dialect. But we saw the woman brought out a basket full of small small yams….almost like Irish potatoes sizes but slightly bigger. Joined by her daughter, they started peeling. Two of our fellow female students offered to join while some of us boys wanted to help, they vehemently declined telling us we are their “visitors”.
Food was ready after like an hour. Spiking hot goat meat pepper-soup and hot yams that shamed the cold. Neighbors brought out various bowls and we all ate and ate. That family fed us, children of parents they didn’t know. They fed us young lads they’ll never obviously never see again. By 12 midnight, some of slept on the mats while some were gisting the night away.
Following morning, they were the ones that went to a neighboring village to bring a local mechanic who fixed our Bus, and told us not to pay! We thanked them but we knew that was not enough. Our traveling Team leader, a 16 year old girl there and then, got emotional and started crying. Some of us were wet-eyed too as we saw the mix of poverty around this couple and kids but laced with a contentment, joy and generosity we couldn’t fathom.
Usually, we sing in the Bus, but that day, we couldn’t sing. We were all engrossed in the conversation of such kindness towards us.
We drove off towards Jos but our minds weren’t traveling as we were stuck in thoughts with the villagers magnanimous experience.
Nigeria is truly a beautiful place and the kidnapping and violent rein of terror of today is an abhorrent rape on our beauty of diversity.
What a beautiful way to start a new day!
See real love for humanity! See compassion! See oneness of purpose! See human empathy in action!…
I was so full of emotions as I read the post above so much so that I had to help my face several times with my handkerchief! I don’t know if you felt same way too!
Growing up, this was the Nigeria I knew too.
Godliness and contentment was the in thing!
A growing child was everybody’s child. A neighbor doesn’t need your permission to chastise your unruly child.
Everybody knew everybody by name! No fence demarcated residences, no boundaries! You easily join your neighbors at meal time and vice versa!
You could display your wares in front of your house and go to farm expecting that whoever wants to buy could pick them and drop your money there…. the story is unending!
Can we dare any of these today?
Where has the humanity in us gone to?
What happened to our cherished values and ethics?
Our people may be poor in material things but they were very wealthy in human empathy!
They may not wear brocades but they weren’t naked!
They may not live in mansions but they weren’t homeless!
They may not eat chicken for a long while but they weren’t hungry!
Can someone please give me this Nigeria I knew again?
All we hear now is killing, killing and killing of human beings, kidnappings, militancy, armed robbery, terrorism, rapes and such like!…
Where is the humanity in us?!!
Do we still have conscience in Nigeria?

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