No Love Lost  

One of the remarkable ironies of life is that we see other people’s problems more than we see ours. Life is short and problems don’t disappear. If we paddle our canoes hard enough, maybe we will still be rowing when the storm is over. Life is just too unpredictable

NO LOVE LOST

By Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Adeola Aderounmu

Lucy lives in Zambezi, until now anyway. This is where she has known all of her life. She was born here and this is where she blooms. She is a very beautiful woman. Some people spoke about her and said maybe she is a goddess. There was an artist in the town and he was convinced the gods took their time to mould her. He meant to say that Lucy was made with perfection.

Ever since she was a little girl there has always been an admiration for her beauty and her personality. People generally agree with Lucy. In her neighbourhood almost everybody she met respected her.

When she left home for the City College at Mongu, she already knew that respect and admiration were not going to be substitutes for love. We all need someone or some people to love us. So when Lucy left college the emptiness in her life began to manifest. Still she continued to pull through with the admiration and respect that folks have towards her. When she is alone she often asks herself: who will satisfy my soul?  Respect is a wonderful quality but it is not love. Even admiration is not love.

Now a working class lady, Lucy almost gave up on love. It was not hard to find a job when she graduated from Zambezi University. She is a brilliant woman and with her kind of beauty, she can open any door. But when it comes to love and satisfaction for her soul, she seemed to be lost. No one knew this but her. She knew that she is not perfect like the artist had insinuated.

One day she was waiting at the bus station. Quite unpredictably the sky turned cloudy that morning and it started to rain heavily. As it rained, Lucy started to cry. The buses were not coming because of the heavy rain. But she was not crying because of the rain or the buses that were not coming. It turned out that the weather gave her a picture of her life. She thought that her life was cloudy inside. She was alone at the bus station, and then she cried even more.

This is not the first time Lucy cried. She has read a lot of novels and she had known about the travails of many characters in tragic literatures and even in some romantic books. She learnt to cry when she is sad because tears wash away sorrows, so she thought. Once she read a book where it was stated that the men who committed suicide are often those who refused to cry because they did not give in to their feelings and pains. When people cry, they feel refreshed and often that gives them the hope that they can carry on.

Lucy was so carried away in her thoughts she almost did not notice the car that had parked right in front of her at the station. Someone had stopped to her help get to work that morning. The man did not know that Lucy had been crying. He thought it had rained over her face. In addition it was too dark to make clear observations. The man recognised Lucy though and that was why he stopped to help her.

That weekend Lucy saw the man again as she took a walk down the street. Thank you Paul, you are kind, she said. It was nothing he replied. But on this occasion Paul noticed something unusual about Lucy. Are you alright he asked? Then Lucy looked at him and started to cry again.

Paul gave her a tissue and she wiped her tears. But Paul was shocked. Until that moment he was one of those who thought that Lucy could have anything she wished for in her life. Lucy did not speak about all of her emptiness but Paul knew from the short conversation they had that the vacuum in her life is enormous.  

Paul was almost thinking out loud. So people can be beautiful, they can have good jobs, they may be admired, well respected and still be sad. Indeed many people often ignore the roles of physical beauty and clothes in covering the darkness and emptiness inside the human body.

In Zambezi there is a man who cannot finish his expressions without the use of proverbs. Paul thought about the day the man had a conversation with him. He remembered one of his sentences: lizards are always lying on their bellies, so we don’t know which among them have stomach problems.

He gave Lucy a hug and they parted ways.

Over several months that followed, Paul was visiting Lucy. There was no attraction between them because Paul had a woman in his life. But with his company, Lucy felt better. They talked about many things, some memories of growing up and now working in this commercial town where the fourth largest river in Africa took its origin.

Lucy also met new friends through Paul. These after-work and weekend companions helped Lucy to forget some of her problems. They filled some gaps in her life. Some of the people who admire her are no longer at a distance.

When she remembered how an unexpected rain facilitated her meeting with Paul, she cherished the moment. Then she decided to buy a car so that she does not have to be at the mercy of another man from the town on another rainy day. She already knew how to drive.

Lucy is happy. She felt she had leaped out of a shell. It was definitely a step in the right direction when people not only admire her but showed her some love through conversations and doing things together. Some people she spoke to talked about their travels and adventures.

Lucy became inspired and she decided that she will also take to travelling. She had always had the opportunities to travel but she never took them. She felt that it was a lot of hassles but now that she had listened to the stories about Paris, Berlin, London and Stockholm, she got motivated.

However she promised herself that she will not travel far. She learnt in geography about the different places and seasons in Africa. I will see my world in Africa before I see the rest of the world she told herself. In her mind she also made a decision to find love and never to let it go.

Lucy spent some of her weekends in Harare and sometimes she is off to Johannesburg. She also travelled to Accra because of the gold at the coast in Ghana. Once she was covering her hair in Cairo. Now she has a handful of pictures, maps and souvenirs from the West, East, North and South of Africa in her study at home.

One day, Paul left a note for Lucy. He wanted to see her again. Lucy did not understand. She just came back from Cape Town where she went on holidays. Zambezi had been warm and she wanted some experience of winter from the bottom of Africa. Lucy is a woman in search of balance and fulfilment. She came home to Zambezi and found the note in her letter box.

Paul’s relationship with his long-time girlfriend had fallen apart. They did not get along as they had dreamt. They had a few problems and they both agreed on one thing only: to end the relationship. It was a sad occurrence but they both felt it was better to do it now rather than trying to make it work at all cost. They have no children yet. He is now 32 and she is 28, so they still have their lives ahead of them.

Sometimes things are not always what they seem. We all make mistakes and our passions can mislead us. One of the remarkable ironies of life is that we see other people’s problems more than we see ours. If people stop pretending, maybe they wouldn’t have to run away from their problems. Life is short and problems don’t disappear. If we paddle our canoes hard enough, maybe we will still be rowing when the storm is over. Life is just too unpredictable.

Lucy met Paul at the coffee shop down the street. She was sorry to hear Paul’s sad story. Paul’s heart was obviously broken. But he cannot blame it on Lucy. Lucy did all she could not to be a distraction. They are close friends, true. Still there was neither attraction nor intimacy between them. Lucy was missing something in her life but her head was clear about what she wanted and desired.

In her mind, she knew that Paul is confused. He has just broken up with someone he had spent a substantial part of his life with. Lucy is quick to draw inspirations from books, stories and her own life. So she said, give it sometime maybe you will find someone new. Your heart will heal and you will go on with your life.

She continued: When I went to Johannesburg in February, I met Vincent. I like him a lot. He adores me. He respects me, but above all he loves me and I love him too. We spent the last two weeks together in Cape Town and he’s planning to find a job in Harare. Apparently 7 months after their first meeting Lucy and Vincent have concluded plans to move to Harare as expatriates.

Paul is not a novice. He too had always known that people must learn to pass through their own troubles, their travails. They must learn to conquer their fears. They may need some time and a little help but they must learn.

The best way to learn is through real experiences.

Goodbye Paul. I must go now. Take care of yourself and we’ll see sometime.

Paul was close to tears but Lucy showed no emotion whatsoever.   

She gave him a tight hug and left.

aderounmu@gmail.com

(c) Adeola Aderounmu 2014

 

 

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Nigerians In South Africa, Victims Or Culprits?

By Adeola Aderounmu

One day in early March 2014 a Nigerian man killed a police officer in South Africa. The tragic incident took place at La Rochelle in Johannesburg. The Nigerian was caught with illegal drugs and he resisted arrest. He killed the police officer that was to arrest him and fled. The South African police force is full of corrupt officials and there was something not right about what transpired between the dead cop and his murderer.

southie street 3

That incident did not occur in isolation. It is part of the larger problems and fate that have befallen several Nigerians who thronged South Africa in search of the Golden Fleece. It is impossible to threat the South African situation in isolation if one sets out to highlight the overall situation or plights of Nigerians abroad. I will not digress though.

The history of violence in South Africa is well documented and reported. The effects of several years of apartheid rule left indelible marks and social consequences beyond the scope of this essay. Unemployment remains a major problem in South Africa too. One can generalised the scarcity of jobs, high crime rate and pastime sex culture already in existence among the local populations.

When apartheid rule ended, the emerging socio-cultural circumstances provided a platform that enable foreigners including Nigerians to thrive in South Africa. What is sad is that some Nigerians went ahead and blended with the South African underworld engaging in drugs, fraud and other types of criminal activities. It is easy to verify this sad turn of events by visiting South African prisons to see the growing number of Nigerians who are locked up.

Now, it must be well stated that there are very good Nigerians living and working permanently or temporarily in South Africa. There is almost no where in the world that is in short supply of Nigerian professionals cut across all areas of human endeavours. South Africa is not a different story or country in this respect. Several Nigerians are successful in their businesses and other endeavours. Some are big entrepreneurs. Some sell things ranging from hairs, to Nigerian food, clothes and general groceries. Many Nigerian women are into hairdressing and ise owo (handiwork).The lures of Nigerians to South Africa include the extended possibility of travelling to Europe. Some made it. But for others, days turn to months and months to years, and frustrations set in. One of the hardest calls to make at this period of time is the “go back home call”. This feeling of living abroad creates a sort of pride or ego that is not easy to let off. Many people find it hard to return to Nigeria because they think they have failed in their sojourns to find a better life abroad. They fear the stigma at home.

The Yorubas have a saying that “if you cannot move forward, you should be able to retrace your steps and go back home”. From experience I know that many Nigerians prefer to stay on and forge ahead. Whilst there have been many success stories from such resiliencies, one cannot ignore the ill luck that befell others as well.

Though some people have tried to point out a certain Nigerian tribe as the major culprits in majority of the crimes committed by Nigerians in South Africa, the people who own the country have no time for such classifications. They put all Nigerians together as one and treat them as such. Some Nigerians are notorious as drug lords in South Africa and some others are credit card fraudsters.

Nigerians have even taken their cult-like activities to South Africa. There are confirmed reports of Nigerians living in Johannesburg who are killing one another. The scenario is ugly because of what appears to be a chain of counter-retaliations.

This adds to the list of the things that led to Nigerians not being respected in South Africa. Drug business is always ugly anyway. These selfish Nigerians who are bent on making money at any price that they can even shoot a policeman in a foreign land deserved to be condemned in the strongest manner possible.

In Johannesburg, it is quite easy to be robbed as the day turns to night. The city harbours many desperate people. Many South African men are described as lazy. Sometimes, it’s just refusing to work and preferring to hide behind some medical reports to justify abstinence from work. Guns are legalized and easy to acquire in South Africa.

Even mad people own guns in countries around the world were guns are legalized. In South Africa you can buy a bullet for N200 and they are readily available. This dangerous mix must have aided the status of Johannesburg as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

southie street 1_1

No discussion on South Africa can be complete without the sex industry. There, women are described generally as easy. The prostitution trade seems to suit the women from East Africa and neighbouring South African countries. A number of the people I spoke to do not agree that Nigerian women are into this trade. Some, however, insisted that Nigerian women are also involved in the oldest profession in the world.

Anyway, as the month of March draws to a close the South African police closed up on the murderer. The police took to the street in large numbers. Somehow they identified the Nigerian who shot the police. He was arrested and now in custody. At the same time Nigerians also protested what they termed as xenophobia. The South African people especially the family of the slain cop joined the police in the protest. They wore ANC attires and wrote “Nigerians must leave” on their banners and placards. They also warned Nigerian drug lords to be ready for battles.

In South Africa, it appears that the relationship between Nigerians and the locals are getting worse by the day. There was a story that went spiral on the web when a Nigerian was maltreated by the police and the video coverage taken by nearby residents brought the known brutality and senselessness of the South African police to a wider audience across the world.

But what actually transpired? The police were trying to make an arrest in traffic. Someone had done something wrong or maybe the police caught up with a criminal. This Nigerian man was alleged to have interfered or obstructed police work. It’s like the police are probably frustrated with the word “Nigerian” and then you put yourself in their den by disturbing their work. It’s double trouble.

The action of the police as revealed in the video is highly condemnable. It’s inhuman. It is also wrong to try to interfere in police operations. The police officers were dismissed from service. But how that immediate response by the South African authority rids Cape Town of its racist tagged and tendencies are not known.

Just last week in Pretoria, many Nigerians were arrested and they will be deported because they are living in South Africa illegally. It seems the police know where to find them especially at this time of strained co-existence. Those who know the workings of the South African police among the arrested people will bribe their ways off the hook as the South African police are not immune to corruption. They are super corrupt I learnt.

Another possible reason for targeting immigrants especially Nigerians, is that elections are around the corner in South Africa. Some political parties or government around the world like to score political points with immigration matters especially during election season. South African as we now see is not an exception.

Some situations beg for elaborate analyses and some questions for answers. South African companies are growing and dominating certain areas of the Nigerian market/economy. Nigerian citizens in South Africa are not well respected. Classical paradox!

The activities of the Nigerian criminals in South Africa have overshadowed the honesty and positive contributions of the good Nigerians in South Africa. It even devaluates the roles of Nigeria in the apartheid years. How can the situation be tilted in favour of the good Nigerians in South Africa?

In Malaysia and in other countries around the world, the Nigerians who are criminals have continued to taint and deprived the rest of us the respect and accolades we deserved. Even the lazy South African man can pull out a gun and shoot a Nigerian to death in Pretoria because of disagreements over a woman. Women, our precious!

It is highly unwarranted and unjustifiable to turn to drugs and criminal acts due to frustrations. The Nigerian embassy in Johannesburg has some diplomatic work to do. The problems facing Nigerians in South Africa should be raised to a diplomatic row and the solutions must be sought at that level, not on the streets.

The Nigerian embassy must step up its watch over Nigerian citizens in South Africa. The image of Nigeria in that country is very disturbing and it’s a shame if this persists. I’m hoping that the Nigerian representatives in South Africa are career diplomats and not politicians who are short sighted and have no clues on how to deal with citizen rights and bilateral relationships.

Nigerians who are being maltreated due to police brutality and pure hatred require adequate representations from the Nigerian government represented in South Africa by the Nigerian ambassador. Nigerians who are arrested because they are criminals should be allowed to face the law without any street protests. Nigerian Associations and Unions in South Africa must not been seen to support or harbour criminals, drug barons or credit card fraudsters. This should be applicable in Nigerian or tribal associations worldwide.

Where applicable, if there are Nigerians who want to return to Nigeria from South Africa, they should be able to get help from the embassy, without much ado.

In the end, in our hearts, we all know the genesis of these problems. It’s all from downtown Nigeria, our Bongo. As we make our beds, so we lie on them. It’s sadder to think that we try to sanitise our image abroad whilst the Nigerian government across all strata is full of criminals. This is where oxymora overtake our paradoxes and put us in a comatose dilemma as a country.

The funds that could have been used to keep or transform Nigeria back into a paradise have been looted. We are not creating jobs in Nigeria and there is no preparation for the future. A friend wrote “I thought Nigeria was the hell spoken about in the holy books”. That’s the present scenario and that’s what keeps propelling the exodus from Nigeria.

It’s going to be mission impossible to stop our exodus as a people because Nigeria continues to wallow in corruption and serious political misgivings. As we continue to seek greener pastures abroad and irrespective of the socio-cultural circumstances of our host countries the truth is that we have no moral standing or right to export our criminal tendencies. Charity begins at home.

aderounmu@gmail.com

[In writing this article I talked to people that I know who are living in South Africa (Johannesburg and Pretoria). I’ll like to thank them and keep them anonymous]