Tormenting tides would wane
the storms shall cease
the floods finally fade
Our rainbow would spread
Abuja is today not what it was yesterday. I could start my tale some twenty-three or so odd years ago when my nimble feet kissed the brown terrain of the young town. You see, it was virgin, a bit older than me but we became aware of ourselves in a conjoined state similar to Siamese twins.
But forget the betrayal I feel at the rape of this town – my love – in so-called development that has people who don’t even say ‘Hi’ to each other. Gone are those days that we knew everyone in the neighbourhood and could trek from Wuse to Garki and the like. Every parent was every parent’s friend and the children all part of one community. Reminds me of a day, a few years now, went to say ‘Welcome’ to a newly arrived neighbour. The man sneered at him. Turns out later the man needed a big favour from dada in official capacity. Well, all I can say is the Abuja bug is infectious.
But if it stopped at the development, perhaps one would smile at my nostalgic stupidity. Think now of all the looting of a town done by certain elite, the total corruption and increasing sicknesses that make this land for all a land of the few. With more stringent measures that are obviously targeted at the common man, continual ropes stretched to make him gaunt, you wonder, what really is happening? Bans, taxes, restrictions, carelessness of government in taking care/providing certain amenities… Ouch!
These days everyone goes into buses with an outward nonchalance and eyes that tell a different tale. There’s suspicion of every bag holder and even a polythene bag could portend danger. Every bus ride could be a last journey and a visa to eternity.
The TV boasts lies of propaganda of what the government is doing. But we see the truth live for the news they don’t say lives with us in Abuja more than anywhere else. No place is sacrosanct – from Utako to Asokoro, Wuse, the Central Business District to even distant outskirts, Suleija and Nyanya. Every patch of representative earth has soaked its amount of Abel’s avenging soul. One wonders what more it would take for the heavens to hear the cries of the blood.
But jump a bit away from Abuja to Borno and other states of the Northern region. Think of increased invaders in the name of whatever new group they want – herdsmen, terrorists? Think of students trying to write a paper and taken away. Think of girls who we might get back – introduced to life as full women… #bringbackourgirls.
We raise our hopes to the skies for the ground has betrayed us. Life calls even as death shouts louder. We are Nigerians and keep our hustle, smiling in a happiness that the wickedness of our evil lords can never suppress. But there’s always that elastic limit.
The Vampires stay forth
till they feel it’s scathing burn
as times fries them in that morn…
In the pitch of our enduring night
we raise hopes to the light
in vigils believing the promise of the sun:
There would always be dawn.
NOTE: End poem is from ‘New Year Tales of Subsidy’ by Su’eddie Vershima Agema in the collection, Bring our casket home: tales one shouldn’t tell.