Good day everyone. It’s a new week.
The writer on GuestCrib today is Collins Ogonnaya Arikor.
Follow him @CollinsOgo on twitter and subscribe to his blog at http://legalwatchmen.blogspot.de/?m=1
So… Here is the piece, “The Most Handsome Reward”
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I grew up always believing that the many foodless days I and my siblings experienced, and our many holeful clothes had constituted poverty, but my opinion changed when I got to see poverty on a firsthand basis. On my arrival at Ajegunle; blessed A.J. City of Lagos, I empirically felt poverty in its strictest sense. There, rats, the size of small cats, were busy scavenging and darting to and from the shacks made of rusted zinc and termite-infested boards which the inhabitants called home. Mosquitoes, as big as butterflies were siphoning what little blood they could suck from the glistening bodies of the brown-haired, kwashiorkor-imprinted and skeletal children playing. Between here and there, were many ditches filled with smelling stagnant water. And right in the ditches there, residents dug their wells which served as sole providers of water. The effort to mentally conceptualize the contents of these people’s drinking water was an exerting and emotion-draining task on its own. Among the sights that met the eye were naked children jumping in and out of pits, which I guessed had to be the latrines because of the pungent smell emanating from within. The women, tying their threadbare wrappers with exposed breasts sat huddled with that faraway look which was not of this world, but of the world beyond, and I heard that they were living in an urban area.
My August discovery was made even more profound by what my companion had to say “These people have scores of people collecting a constant supply of emoluments and other numerous benefits on their behalf at the councillorship level, local government level, state level, Federal level and even International level!”. What crime these people committed to be rewarded with such was still a mystery to me.
What kept me stupefied and perhaps, is still stupefying me till date is the residents’ spirited will and strong purpose to live despite the overwhelming despair and anguish of such inhumane conditions. In the faces of children playing, the bare-chested mothers to the care-freeness of the youths, I had perceived the strong stints of hope. Hope upon hope. My personal experiences had necessitated my desire to become a writer, not because my little arsenal of words should be used to impart a life in what little way I could, but because I strongly felt that my extraordinary childhood afforded me the right to create my own world of refuge; where I would always run to and hurl blame at other people. At least, I had a roof over my head (even though we usually collected a substantial amount of water through the ceiling whenever it rained, and God help us when it rained during the night, we would have to kiss sleep goodbye). Yet, here was a group of imperturbable people living despite these inhumane conditions and they didn’t even have the slightest intimation that they had the right to better lives.
2015 is around the corner, and as usual, posters and billboards will spring up at every road one bothers to look, televisions and newspapers will all tell of the American-wonder type of achievements of these various office-seekers, and why they should be ‘duly’ rewarded by being elected or re-elected as the case may be, for they self-assuredly believe it to be so.
I have always engaged in a personal war on the proliferation of fake politics in Nigeria, not because I understood the simple fact that much, if not all of what we need to live a quality life in Nigeria can only be guaranteed by the quality of politics we receive but because I now solidly understand that, every upright citizen, no matter the position occupied in society, as a matter of natural logic, has a duty imposed on him/her to see that the lives of people around him/her are positively touched in the least manner possible.
For the reward that awaits can only be the most handsome reward.