Away and Away!

Perhaps I had to travel this far to find someone who likes Rora by Reekado Banks like me. I think the song is magic, who ever made the beat can take all the money in my back accounts – except my piggyvest money sha.

The man at the park at Umuahia sang the song with the gusto most of us reserve for our bathrooms, he also couldn’t speak a word of Yoruba and it showed in the way he mangled the Yoruba words, but did he care kwanu?

Perhaps I had to travel this far to find someone who likes Rora by Reekado Banks in the same degree as me. I think the song is magic, who ever made the beat can take all the money in my back accounts – except my piggyvest money sha.

The next song was Burna Boy’s Gbedu and the man changed his dance steps but didn’t stop singing. I wondered if Reekado and Burna knew they had such an ardent fan in Umuahia who didn’t even understand their words. I was reminded again of the universal nature of music and how it transcends barriers.

I was thinking of barriers to the progress of Nigeria yesterday as I had a back-and-forth with a fine man (with my luck, he’s either AS or married) on Twitter who still believes strongly in the Nigeria project and thinks it can still work. I do not think so anymore, I don’t think we can get a crop of leaders with enough foresight and vision to fill a thimble.

The current frontrunner for the 2023 presidential elections thinks the answer to banditry, unemployment and food security is to recruit 50 million youths to the army and feed them with corn and cassava. It would have been hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.

Yet, having drank Coca-Cola in more Nigerian cities than I care to remember. I think it would be an immense tragedy if Nigeria was balkanised. We are so similar that sometimes it’s scary, you could wander into a street in Olodi-Apapa and be hit by Déjà vu… Wasn’t this the same street in Yola? Or was it Bida or Ogbomosho?

I was in the bus winging my way to Umuahia from Mbaise as we talked about Nigeria and soon, of other things. I was smiling and typing when I noticed the man next to me looking at me oddly. Then I remembered that the conversation in the mini-bus was about an accident which nearly occurred because a random goat driving a green Mitsubishi Lancer came at a sharp bend to overtake us.

Aboki waka!”

Our driver had screamed even though he knew it wasn’t a person from the north.

But why do we see the easy going northerner whose lifestyle and exposure is different from ours, as stupid. Or why do we choose to dwell on stereotypes in judging our brother tribes in the south? Why do we distrust each other so much?

Two men jumped into the car and sat beside me as they took up the last seats. Both of them were tall, dark and lanky and one closest to the door was obviously new to Umuahia as he kept comparing the city to Lagos.

One of my pet peeves is when people compare cities to Lagos. Lagos is an entire state for God’s sake! You can’t wake up and compare Port Harcourt or Asaba or Umuahia with Lagos.

Anyway, his friend/brother reminded him that he was having an interesting adventure.
“Travelling is the best kind of education,” he said with a smile and I held myself back from hugging him.

A young boy bearing buns came by and other passengers bought from him, he was already moving away when I realised that I hadn’t even had breakfast yet. I’d been too busy engaging in a long conversation with my friend marooned at Umuahia. We were about potentials and failed businesses to remember to eat, I practically had to drag myself out of that conversation to start my journey.

I ate my slightly salty buns, drank 7-up and waited for the driver to settle the people at the park. As soon as we pulled out of the park, the driver began to play True Story which was the title song for Timaya’s first album and I smiled like a fish.

I love how Timaya has created a spot for himself in our music industry and has stayed relevant since he and Danco music brought us his first album. The consistent hit maker for over a decade, Egberipopsy 1 of Bayelsa – as MI calls him.

From the first time I heard Timaya I knew he was destined to be a big star, there was a purity in his voice that invited you to pull chair or sit cross legged on your bed and just listen to the stories in the songs. It was a party at Dodan Barracks, a graduation party of a former medical student who had passed his final exams after many tries.

The DJ played that album as if he was obsessed, he’d play each song at least three times before moving on the next. I was in my room with Zagira, it was my first free afternoon in ages and the engine boy and I (two extremely stubborn Capricorns who not only shared a birthday but a love for cornflakes with plenty milk, fried overripe plantains and for adventure) hadn’t seen each other in days – an eternity for us.

I was hooked, already learning the choruses and singing along while the engine boy wondered if all was well. I still tease him about sleeping on Timaya at first, he likes him plenty now. Me, my ardour has cooled a little.

So with Timaya playing in the car headed for Enugu and with memories of the early days of a friendship that is nearly 14 years old, I began to write…

And write…

As we drove through terrible roads and furious dust storms. Good thing I boarded a Sienna with AC, just seeing the red dust fumes is tightening my lungs.

Now though, I’m in a pink house at a place where hills stretch as far as the eyes can see. Nigeria is a beautiful country sha.

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