Salutations steeped in reverence, unhindered access to exclusive places, extra attention, and all round preferential treatment. That must have been the summary of what it was to be Evans (Chukwudubem Onwuamadike) prior to the tenth of June when the long arms of the law finally caught up with him. I also imagine that had he not been apprehended, his wife and kids would have celebrated him as the perfect husband and father to commemorate Fathers’ day last Sunday.
As a writer, I am condemned to a life of observing. As I move around…walk, drive, interact with my environment and people, I take all I can in. I am inspired by the things I see every day – the waste collector who sits on the pile of garbage from different homes without covering or turning up his nose. The gala and pure water sellers who can give Usain Bolt a run for his money when they chase after cars in a bid to make a sale. The traffic warden who stands under the scorching sun for hours to ensure free flow of traffic for a paltry salary at the end of the month, and the conductor who shouts himself hoarse as he “hustles” passengers for his bus.
She had gradually become a regular face in that social space. A convivial setting where old members were expected to be friendly with new ones. On this day I had walked up to her, introduced myself and asked for her name. “Just call me Mummy Ade she replied with something between a sheepish smile and a chuckle.” I was tempted to ask her if Mummy Ade was her real name, the name her parents had given her when she was born, but I held back. I returned her smile and nodded in acknowledgement of her preferred nomenclature.
As a kid, there were not too many entertaining moments that beat the time spent watching a James Bond movie in the company of my siblings, particularly one played by Roger Moore. It was a staple of our developmental years. Not much different from us eating a meal of rice every other day or playing a game of hide and seek.
The year was 2015. The date was 31st of August. I had traveled to the United Kingdom to spend my vacation and had just one day left before I was due back in Nigeria. So when a friend offered to take me to see the annual Notting Hill carnival, I was excited as I figured it would most likely be the highlight of my holiday. I had heard about the carnival, and watched it a couple of times on TV, so I was quite enthusiastic about finally being able to experience it firsthand. We set out, and two trains later we were joined by four of his other friends, consisting of three guys and a lady.
I was watching the clip of the interview of a young lady who was responding to the unfortunate electrocution and subsequent death of 30 young men who had gone to see the Europa League Quarter Final match between Manchester United and Anderlecht at a viewing center in Calabar. A high tension electricity cable had fallen on the roof of the building, and sadly many of the football faithfuls lost their lost lives before they could be rushed to the hospital due to the lack of first aid treatment and equipment that could forestall or at least reduce such fatality. But that’s a topic for another day.
They say men are moved by what they see. These days however, I am tempted to believe that both men and women are moved by visuals. The word “Goals” is one that is bandied around a lot on social media. It is often used to express a person’s desire to achieve what someone else has or a longing to be like them in one way or the other; usually regarding some marital, career or any other real or perceived significant life accomplishment. However, as with most attributes that are peculiar to the virtual community, the word “goals” is mostly used when for instance, a couple put up their pre-wedding pictures, or a good looking family post photos of themselves. And so, beyond liking the post, some of their followers can’t help but express a longing to be like them. This desire is revealed in phrases such as “marriage goals,” “family goals,” “couple goals” and the likes.
A man decides to end his life by plunging into the lagoon on a glorious Sunday evening. He was a medical doctor. To the average observer, he appeared to be comfortable, or at least better off than most people. In different circumstances, but in clearly another act of suicide, a final year student of a University opts to take his own life by hanging himself in the hostel room he shared with two of his colleagues. They return after a night of reading to find him dangling from the ceiling. Both incidents have sent shock waves down the spine of many Nigerians. A country where the concept of committing suicide is still somewhat alien.
It starts with a promise. “To have and to hold, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us apart” Everyone in that space can’t help but shed a lone tear. He looks at her. She stares at him. They made it! Theirs will be different. They will show others what a real union should be like. They’ll school intending married couples on how to treat the significant other in a marriage. 2 years down the line the story is different. Daggers are drawn, the once inseparable lovebirds can’t stand the sight of each other anymore. One of them has reneged on all the vows made that fateful day. The situation degenerates to a point of no return. A divorce is filed by the party who just can’t take it anymore. Another once promising union bites the dust.
At one time or the other, a couple of people have asked what I thought about the idea of being a celebrity, and if I ever wanted to be one. My answer was the same each time. I don’t want to be a celebrity in the sense of being so physically recognizable that I would hardly be able to buy roasted plantain by the roadside if I wanted to. I want to be known solely for what I do, my craft, and nothing else. I don’t want every Sade, Nnamdi and Hassan all up in my personal business, or thinking they have a right to tell me how to live my life because of some silly celebrity status. I always tell them I want the radio kind of popularity. I want people to know my name, not necessarily my face. Being a celebrity is a burden I am not quite sure I can bear well. The fuss about singer and songwriter, Simi’s mode of dressing is one of the reasons I never crave to be popular.