Posted by News Express | 25 November 2018 | 2,026 times
Standing dazed but amazed at the realization that it was actually his name he heard and not his imagination playing pranks on him, Chike could hardly understand the loud cheer from the crowd. Abisi was reaching out her arms for an embrace. “It's real! This is actually happening! It's happening!” He kept murmuring, as Jide gave him a slight push to head to the stage. Finally, regaining himself, Chike walked towards the stage with his head bowed. It was all coming back to him. Nostalgic, with tears running down his cheeks, he took the mic, took a big breath, and intoned: “Good evening everyone", the uproar went wilder and louder than before. Summoning all his will-power to remain calm, less nervous and as audible as he could be, he continued, "I'm honored to be here today, and I'd like to tell you my story.” He stood and watched as the ovation began to subsided, and most people took their seats to listen.
In the eyes of the crowd he was an oracle; but, deep down inside of him, he was just a survivor! A survivor with an amazing grace!
“My name is Chikere Samuel,” he began, “and I'm the only surviving child of my late parents. I'm from Olokoro village in Rivers State. My father was a staff at Stallions Shipping Company and my mother was a primary school headmistress. Both of my parents made a decent living, good enough to put food on our table and a moderate comfortable apartment where we lived. My younger sister and I were well cared for, until the day of the explosion. Before my very eyes I watched my father burn to death, as he was trying to save us and my mother laid in the hospital for months as she battled with damaged lungs from the horrible smoke she inhaled due to pipeline explosion and the militant’s shoot-outs.
When it was obvious that our mother could not assist my sister and I anymore while on a hospital bed, arrangements were made for us to travel to the north and live with our maternal uncle. Uncle Josh and his family lived in Borno State in the North-east. We had never been there before, but our mother was becoming too weak and my aunt could not take care of her and us. It was quite challenging from the tragic experience with the explosion and the drastic change in our lives; learning the new language, Hausa, was quite interesting.
My younger sister, Emilia, whom I fondly called Emily Millionaire was unfortunately among the girls who were reportedly abducted one unfortunate hot day by the 'Boko Haram' terrorists in Chibok. I was sent off as an apprentice to my uncle's friend, Mr Dozie, as my uncle could not afford my university education. In fact, I felt too guilty to ask, after all he and his family had been through taking of my sister and I. And the tragic experience of losing my sister.
Maybe, his wife was right. To her, we were two sets of unfortunate creatures exuding misfortune anywhere we entered. Some days I felt as if she was right. Going away with Mr Dozie to Lagos afforded me a chance for a change of environment which I so much longed for. A breath of fresh air, new beginnings; I was determined to survive this cruel journey of life. I had to live and become an engineer; my childhood dream which my father noted when he told me stories about ships and how they were built to sail easily on waters. “Maybe one day I will build cars to also run on water,” I always told my father. “if you can imagine it, then you can work towards it my engineer,” he would say. It gave me great joy to fix things and I was determined to prove my family wasn't bewitched as my uncle’s wife taunted.
“Sitting in my oga's shop one afternoon and fiddling with my equipment, which to the ordinary eyes looks like deliberately putting dirt on myself and looking like my friend Ike who was a mechanic. Ike was so generous in letting me use some of his equipment. Thankfully, my oga didn’t mind, as long as I could fix his generator and save him the cost of paying for it. Ike was kind enough to listen to my life-long dream of building a car that would be water-propelled.
It was during one of those afternoon sessions of toying with equipment at the mechanic shop that I meant my dear friend, Jide, who at that time had lost his dear mother to the deadly virus ebola. Instantly, it felt as if we both shared kinship. He was devastated and I understood the depth of his pain. But our shared interest in tools made our afternoons something we both looked forward to.
“Nature smiled on me when Mr Johnson, a Scottish engineer based in the US came to our shop one afternoon and met me excitedly exhibiting my motor, which ran for the first time after years of failed attempts. He was delighted as well as intrigued, so much that he took interest in my work. That was my first time to meet someone who didn't think I was mad.
“Travelling to America was a dream come true. I was given proper education in mechanical engineering, a better environment to develop my work and most importantly the opportunity I needed. Today, my dream has become a reality, and I have returned to give back to the society that forged me and taught me how to survive. I am here to share my story. Not just as a sad ordeal, but as a proof that anyone can make it. We all can make it.
Our amazing grace is not how sweet the song of recession sounds, our amazing grace is that we have been able to go through a lot and survived them all, though with terrible scars and wounds yet to heal.
“Let’s not leave our fate to chance but live a cautious life; make deliberate efforts to secure the dignity of our country. Nigeria is not bound by the power of bewitchment but by the chains of men and poor implementation of her mandate. All we need is a responsible government, a committed and selfless leadership, faith and work.
“This will guarantee a speedy growth and yield a mega turn-around of various sectors that showcase the global face of Nigeria. Not segregation, not swimming in the pool of recession, but a people-oriented government and citizenry with an adequate wielding of might. This will keep our amazing grace flourishing, and keep our hopes alive. That is the peace and unity.
We cannot wait for Nigeria’s future to unfold but while we wait, we have to stay ready for when it does. Nigeria is a great country blessed and bound by chains of misrepresentation, empowered by the hurdles she has passed, and fit for the cross she carries even with the straps on her weak but able shoulders. The forces we have to fight are internal and part of the whole. May we not make a mockery of the past labour, and watch things fall apart.
“All we need is a little shake-off from tribal stereotype, a little selfless endeavour, a little regard for the past and a hopeful creation of the things we seek outside our boundaries. Bringing back home our human resources! The land is green enough for us to cultivate on it. Not buying the ripe fruits outside our land, which leaves us thirsty and greedy after a little while. Our amazing grace already abounds with us. This is how we can attain new, great lofty heights.
We are Nigerians, and we have the amazing grace of surviving through recession, insurgency health challenges, financial corruption and environmental hazards. And to anyone, especially the youths going through what I have been through, you too can survive!”
•Esther Chizaram Ngele writes from Enugu.
No comments yet. Be the first to post comment.