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Monday, 8 February 2016

WHY I WEEP --by Slick

It is with a heavy heart that I write this article but that’s what we do here; express what you feel in words.
I walked into the banking hall of a UBA branch just close to my house and the crowd I encountered at 8:30am on a Monday morning was like people waiting to see a very powerful man of God. I decided to brace up for standing for the next hour before I would be attended to by the personnel at the Customer Services section.

The guy at the table whose name tag read Kayode Badmus picked up the receiver of the telephone on his desk and said “Please call me Eno.” Imagine the excitement in my heart when I heard the name “Eno” A lady from my state of origin was a bank staff in this western part of the country; boy, I was ready to speak our dialect with her whenever she made her way to this crowded section of the bank. She would definitely be pretty too. In a space of three quick minutes, I had envisioned what our encounter would be like.
My joy was soon to be cut short when a lady holding a mop stick and rags in her hands dressed in green apron appeared from the shadows  and said “Oga, dem talk say you dey find me.” Could this be Eno? The same Eno I had painted beautiful mental pictures about? Chai! A common cleaner in the bank.

“When you are done, come get me some food from the eatery.” Kayode blurted out from his ‘Yorubaish’ lips.
She simply nodded in affirmation. I looked at the head she nodded and wished I could hack it off. I asked myself, Why e be say my people just like to dey do house help work? Before it used to be folks from Benin republic, but now na my people. What happened to all the free skill acquisition schemes and the free and compulsory education scheme a former Governor put in place?

Agencies responsible for recruiting maids for people have made a fortune from shopping for potentials in Akwa Ibom. This kind tin dey make person shame sef, because once you tell person say you be Calabar, e mean say you  dey either chop dog, be houseboy, gateman or Okada rider...or very good at sex. These scenarios are even worse over here in the city of Lagos. Six out of ten homes usually have a brother or sister of mine slaving out their lives based on cheap promises and peanuts they earn as salaries.

I had the opportunity of talking to another “Eno” on the 1st of January 2016 and she narrated how she ended up as a house help in Lagos. Her parents had pushed her into it, hoping that she would make enough money to change their living condition. On various occasions, her parents would call her handlers to ask them to be given a token out of their daughter’s salary. I felt so much rage that I had to inquire if her parents were cripple or bed ridden, but to my surprise they were hale and hearty.

There are many other reasons why my people end up living in deplorable conditions in strange cities in the name of making a living. It has eaten deep into the veins of my people such that it has begun to feel like a syndrome. Even when they make a living, they refuse to develop or grow; instead they are comfortable living in squalor.
I recall my favourite Olamide lyrics, “Better be a Lion in the Jungle, than to be a Dog in the City”. If I were in Eno’s shoes I would save up some money, acquire some skills and go back home and live like a Lion than have some Idiot usher me off to the eatery every time he needs to feed his worms. It’s time for the Government of the day to make a positive and visible impact in the lives of “Enos living in diaspora”. Let us redeem our image. Let us change what we are known for. The Igbos are known to be business oriented, Yorubas party lovers, Hausas diligent people and the list goes on.

Share this message with every Eno, Okon, Akpan, Emem, Itoro around you.  

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