Hi everyone, this week’s Guest is Omoya. He blogs at omoyasimult.wordpress.com. He is @omoyayinka on Twitter.
BARRISTER, THIS IS NIGERIA
You are presently watching the President of your country speak live on AIT. His party, the leading party, is holding a zonal rally in Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos. Other top brass of the party have spoken. It is the turn of the President to speak. The most powerful masquerade dances last, they say.
The President starts by declaring a minute silence in sympathy with those who lost their lives in the building collapse of an international church. He expresses his heartfelt condolence and promises to look into the cause of the collapse. He then appreciates the supporters of his party in South-West. He says they have been doggedly loyal
despite the challenges of the party in their zone.
The President seems to be saying all the right words. Although you have lost count of how many times he has uttered the word ‘promise’, with the way he speaks, it is still obvious he knows the plights of the masses.He recounts the achievements of his administration and promises as always not to relent in his efforts.
‘We are not here to campaign,’ the President announces. ‘It is not time for that. We have only come to interact as a family.’
You shake your head slightly at this. ‘These politicians must think every other person is dumb. Didn’t a chieftain of the party just say something now about the need for the people to support the President with their votes come 2015?’ You ask yourself.
You recline fully on the cushioned chair you are seated on. You place your legs on a stool and stretch them out.
The President is now talking about his administration’s ‘giant strides’ in creating job
opportunities for the teeming youths. At this you sit up and fix your gaze defiantly on the Samsung 29″ television.
Your younger sister walks in and checks what has so captured your attention raptly. She hisses as she sees the President speaking on air. She goes for the remote control and changes the channel to HipTV, a station that plays indigenous and foreign
Hip Hop songs.
King James, the latest song by MI Abaga, is what the station is playing presently. Your sister jumps up frenziedly and sways her hip to the rhythm of
‘Yo! See me gathering stamina. We been to Canada. We been to Ghana. Been balling in SA like Bafana Bafana, rocking that Dolce and Gabana. Been taking shots like a camera…’ Your sister sings after the musician with contagious enthusiasm. You are tempted to get excited too, but you restrain yourself. Something more pressing must be addressed.
You are stupefied by the behaviour of your sister. Did she switch the channel out of disregard for your person or out of contempt for the nation’s
President? You want to know.
‘Bola, why did you change the channel without my consent, seeing that I was watching something when you came in?’ You demand, giving your sister a benefit of fair hearing.
‘Eh! Eh! Boda mi, hold it there! I said hold it there! Don’t wash me over with saliva because of any stupid thing. Can I not watch what I want in my father’s house again, en? Your mates are outside there working and making cool money; you are seated here watching some President. If watching TV is now your job, go and buy one and keep in your room. After all, you are old enough to even live independently. White cock that doesn’t know he is old!’ She hisses and walks out on you.
You are dumbstruck and transfixed where you are. You want to call her back and ask her to repeat what she has just said, but you seem to have forgotten her name. You look for an acid comeback to her statements, but your tongue is helplessly glued to the roof of your mouth. You want to go after her and make her realise that whoever opens her mouth like that to pour out such venom is ripe for a thorough beating, but then your legs have become heavy like bags of sand and your hands have now refused to be yours.
You sit back in your chair and bite your lower lip very hard. The truth is bitter. Yes, you know, and that’s what your younger sister has dished out to you. The fact that she has not told a lie makes you unsure of what to do.
You are a lawyer by training. Yes, law was what you studied in the university. When your fellow lawyer friends write their names, they pride themselves by putting ‘Esq.’ and ‘LL.B (Hons)’ at the back of their names. You don’t believe in all those frivolities and so do not write such things after your name. You went to law school as well,
the one in Abuja.
To a common citizen of your country, you made good grades both in law school and university. Second class (upper division) is what you have written on both certificates.
One would think with such applaudable performance, jobs should come seeking for you. Well, things are not so in this nation. Only the ones who have ‘long legs’ get something to keep their hands, and more importantly their teeth, busy. It’s either one has someone or one uses something to pull oneself up. So, in a nutshell, you have been carrying your certificates about for two years. Yes, two whole years!
It is not that there are no jobs per se; it is that there are no befitting jobs. Having spent five hectic years in the university, a frustrating year in law school and an exhausting year serving the nation, you don’t think you should stoop for just any job.
You are not the only one suffering from this.
Sometimes, this fact consoles you. Your fellow learned colleague, Kola, has found comfort in the ICT world. He now designs websites for organisations and companies, programmes and sells softwares to earn a living. You don’t know where he has thrown his certificates; it is not your cup of tea.
This is almost the same story with Demola and Abiodun. Demola has picked up a career in journalism. He now works for one of the popular newspapers. Isn’t it funny how a lawyer holds a recorder to the mouth of a politician, jostling with the crowd to get a chance to interrogate? A lawyer? Sad, isn’t it? But you see, when the desirable is not available, the available becomes desirable. About Abiodun, the gentleman has gone into business fully. He now runs a shop where he sells electronic gadgets and appliances.
Some of your friends are actually practising law though. Most of such friends are working in private chambers, where they are made to work assiduously only to earn meagre stipends at the end of the month. On the other hand, few who have these ‘long legs’ have been employed by the government. It is these ones who can wear wigs and hold their shoulders high in their suits. You don’t have such ‘long legs’.
Your uncle comes to your house frequently. He never ceases to give you advice. Now, he says lawyers are making notable headways in the world of Literature. You want to ask him whether that’s what they are trained for, but he is not the type to be interrupted when he speaks. He speaks and maintains that one could advocate through writing too. You do not dispute this fact.
Now, your uncle grants you a chance to respond to all he has heard. You waste no time to ask the question that turns your stomach and sits precariously on your lips.
‘But sir, are these things what lawyers were trained for?’ You ask quickly, as if the question was a hot piece of yam.
Your uncle laughs; he laughs so much that his legs are lifted up above his head. You wonder what is it that makes him laugh so raucously.
Did you make a grammatical error? Is there no sense in your question? You begin to wonder.
Your uncle calms himself down. His eyes are red now, and traces of tears are obvious on his eyelashes. He is holding on to a side of his stomach that must be aching him after such laughter. You sit up and stare at him, feeling ridiculed, waiting for an answer or a mockery or a correction or … anything.
‘Barrister lawyer,’ he replies at last, with a hoarse voice now, ‘you are in your fatherland. Here, you don’t necessarily practise what you were trained
for; you practise whatever brings food to your table.’
‘But why?’ You seek to know.
‘Barrister, this is Nigeria. Nobody cares why here,’ your uncle responds and stands to leave.’The money I have, I have lent you.’
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