As the year ends…Lagos on my mind

Adeola Aderounmu

I thought I’d written all I have to write for 2007. Who would not like a break to spend his Christmas and New Year holiday around his family, friends and loved ones? Can anyone solve global problems by writing too much?

I have spent the last couple of days reflecting on my childhood which was loaded with extreme challenges. I thought about the Christmas season and the joy that came with it annually in spite of all the challenges. It is difficult not to reflect on those times that I spent with my immediate family members, the good times and the bad times. Above all, those days that will never come back but which will continue to mean a lot to me. They will continue to shape the rest of my life by making me a better and a more loving person with each passing day. That, I hope.

This has been a quiet Christmas for me as well. In a manner of personal reflections and thoughts of an approaching new year, I have spent more time alone than I have done at any other time of my life. It may be a sign of growing old to take stock and reflect as others eat and merry away. Along the side, I have spent a little time to be with my nuclear family here in Sweden and tasting all the traditional foods at Christmas. It has been worthwhile. But Lagos is still on my mind! Lagos has been on my mind despite the fact that I boasted that
I preferred a white Christmas. There is never going to be a place like home no matter the amount of face saving that we put up elsewhere.

Indeed, I missed my family and friends in Nigeria especially at this time of the year. The feeling is so strong that I can’t take my mind off the things that I imagine are going on back home in Nigeria. With all the hustling and bustling in Lagos especially, I still feel like I am an incomplete man spending my Christmas away from my Nigerian family. But this is a feeling that I would live with because it was my decision to stay put in the cold winter of Sweden in the first place.

However, one of the news emanating from Lagos the day after Christmas is very disheartening. There is no need to recount all the negative things that one would have to adapt with in Lagos but one very bad thing happened last Christmas (2006) which has also repeated itself this year (2007). When I saw this – pipeline explosion news on BBC I was shocked because I thought I was still living in 2006 or that I just woke up from a dream that had lasted 365 days. How possible? I asked myself. I have just finished seeing the movie- Kate and Leopold one more time not so long ago. If you have seen this movie then you will understand why I started to wonder if I was living in the past or in the future.

If one is not careful, what is happening in Nigeria as a way of life can drive one crazy instantly. In 2006, I was in Lagos when the pipeline explosion happened but I didn’t know there had been an explosion anyway because there was no light and it was impossible to follow the news. It was a phone call from Sweden to find out about my well-being that made me know then that hundreds of people have died in Lagos where I was holidaying. Lagos na wa

Exactly, one year later the same thing has happened. Why don’t Nigerians ever learn from past mistakes? There have been several explosions like that in the past. The people (especially women and children) who scoop fuel are aware of the inherent risk-that it could cost them their lives! Why do people always think that they cannot encounter misfortune when they do stuffs like that? Yes, there is poverty in the land and some people cannot afford even a single meal a day but scooping fuel is not worth dying for. Should it be?

Really, I don’t want to start retracing the cycle of idiocy that has led to this unfortunate incident but I hope that the day would come when people will not have to scoop fuel even if the leakage was an accident or something done by some illegal bunkering.

This is supposed to be a season for joy and happiness but some families have been thrown into mourning. It appears the government has failed the people again in 2007 and the people continue to seek desperate measures to live each day. It is very hard or almost impossible to justify the desperate measure of scooping fuel and it is also very sad that governance in Nigeria does not prioritize the welfare of the people. In this case, head or tail, the people suffer. What a disappointing way to end another (wasted) year!

Still, Lagos is on my mind. I wish all honest and sincere hardworking Nigerians a wonderful new year-2008. May the joy of this season never depart from you. Let’s keep all our dreams and hopes alive and in all that we do, let us seek the common good of all.

All the best!

So long and Happy New Year!