Gather round, children, take your seats. Please don’t sit too close to the well, apart from the inherent dangers; you know that is the only water supply we have left.
What I am about to share with you sounds more like a myth but they are realities, realities that once existed, but are no more.
Should you survive these turbulent times, you will of course recall you were eye witnesses to the drying up of the last river in this community, the Warri River and you probably have heard of how far the River Niger is from here.
There once was a town called Lagos, it used to be the capital of a Country we once called Nigeria. That was before the mighty Ocean (aaah, I will need to explain to you all what an ocean is, let me just call it very very big river) washed it away. Someone became the leader in that State and people started throwing rubbish everywhere till they blocked the normal path for water to flow. More houses were built close to this water…..now all that is left is the oral tradition of Eko Akete.
That black patch you see over there was called Macadam; some just called it tar. It used to be laid on the road for cars to pass. Now, I see the confusion on your faces; that rusty wreck over there is what is left of the last car that moved in this region. I would describe a car as a man-made iron horse that moves when it is filled with petrol. Sorry, I lost you, petrol was made by heating that black seep you see on what used to be our farmland. We used to heat it ourselves in what we called Refineries but sometime in the 1990s, we started buying from over the ‘big river’.
We bought from white men, no, I am not talking of albinos and I need to state this clearly. Recent prophecies indicate there would be a Third Coming of the white man. You may call it the Fourth anyway. The First time being from the time they came to buy African slaves, the Second, when they came to rule the slaves on their own soil (called Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism).
Twenty Years ago, they all left. It was a massive departure. The first time, they came in big boats called Ships, but this time, they left in Airplanes. (You know those ‘big birds’ that made noise when they passed?). Those birds don’t even fly in this region anymore.
Children, I will teach you to write. We will have to use part of the limestone brought in when I walked down to Nkalagu in Enugu last year. it is getting more expensive to sharpen chicken feather and use as pen.
Aaah! We once had Big Big Schools. Your school got bigger as you got older back then. We had one called the University. Trouble began when the man in charge of those schools felt it was better to spend money on his wedding anniversary than solve the problem. This trend continued for years, till the teachers (Lecturers) started leaving the country to teach elsewhere. Soon, there were no Vacancies, yet these people preferred to wash dead bodies in the Whiteman’s land instead of shouting at deaf ears. Most of the other teachers died of hunger.
I have to start ending my story because it is getting dark. Aaah! There was a time the walls brought out light. It was called electricity. At a point in time, the supply was failing, and some rich men started buying ‘generators’ (a metal that made walls bring out light). Then, something new happened. The whiteman made smaller metals that were cheaper, and more people started buying ‘generators’ this was a good business idea to those in charge of electricity, and because they were buying from the Whiteman and selling, they made sure electricity did not work well, till it did not work at all.
That meant more ‘generators’, more petrol, more activity of the Whiteman on our land. All talks with those that ruled Nigeria failed. Then the youths of our town started fighting back. Then some terrible things happened.
November 1999, Soldiers sacked a whole community called Odi. Not even the goats were spared. That is a sad story for another day.
Almost Ten years later, June 2009, it was Gbaramatu’s turn. At this time, a lot of charlatan militants had risen, most of whom were serving the politicians (just call them rulers so you won’t get confused) and were dumped after ‘Service’.
All this time, the attack was on the Niger Delta. So the people of Lagos could not be bothered. A month after the Gbaramatu incident, they attacked Lagos too. Terrible repercussions followed and in the end, almost all the oil installations had been destroyed. Our community was also on the verge of total extinction.
Years after, the Whiteman found an alternative to petrol and they stopped buying from Nigeria. Unfortunately, Nigeria had nothing more to sell. That was when the North decided to part ways. The Southwest decided to do so too. It is funny that in a war called Civil War I, it was the East and the Niger-Delta that fought to part ways. This time, we fought to stay. If the North spent their entire Groundnut and the West all their Coccoa, and they refused to go in the past, why should we let go, now that the Oil is useless?
I wish it were that easy. It was extremely bloody. The Whiteman made huge sales from the guns both sides used to ‘finish’ each other.
That was how we arrived at today. I say this because the Whiteman once claimed there was no civilization in Africa when they came. Some of them will say it again.
I think it is in order for me to let you know that ‘Whiteman’ does not refer to them all. Talakawas exist among The White race too. My ancestor taught me that. The White Masu Sarauta are the ones that sired their own kind amongst us. The Blackman never learns. There would never have been slavery if we never enslaved our kind. Those who made money from selling huge guns would never have had a flourishing business if we did not make a sport out of killing each other.
The White Masu Sarauta was just doing business. But the Black Masu Sarauta played it too far.
All these type of people may not make meaning to you now, children. But I am telling you so I can prepare you for the Third Coming of the Whiteman.
It is getting very dark now. My dim eyes can no longer see the palm of my hands. Goodnight.
The town-crier begins to ring a bell. It sounded both funny and strange. I looked up and the sky looked so white. The funny bell rings again…it was my alarm! Ouch! I am almost late for work!
Ps: Most of the words in boldfaced italics had become obsolete at the timing of this incident