MY SMILE, MY PAIN AND MY PATIENCE.


MICHIKA:
There is nothing funny in watching my little niece Amina being raped by five boys. Watching her whimper and extend her 11 year old left hand towards me, in a gesture that said a lot. Her eyes fixed on my face all through her ordeal. Perhaps to draw strength for her travail or just to distract herself. My incapacity? They were armed and I was not.
AZAURE:

Yusuf my cousin came as handsome as can be found in this clime. His brain was exceptional too. We all knew that if anybody was to become somebody in our extended family, Yusuf was the one. Poor boy probably would have been overwhelmed by the depth of our expectations. Well…last week I got a glimpse of him after 3 years of disappearance. He was robed in some unusual clothes, sat at the back of one of the SUV Hilux vehicles, totting a big gun. He is now with ‘them’. He probably found more peace, fulfillment and acceptance in their midst. Who knows what our Yusuf has been up to all 3 years. Another wasted flower. Expectations down the drain.
JOS:

My family house is still like a refugee camp from the 2 previous successive explosions. We try to irk out some food and bed spaces for the ever increasing numbers of people who seek shelter. The numbers are actually increasing from these incessant attacks of the so called Fulani herdsmen. Our lands are gradually leaving our possession. The available ones are almost topographically impossible to be used for agriculture- illegal mining and erosion sees to that.

They all still visit the unmarked graves of their loved ones and mostly bread winners of the families.

BUT I AM EXPECTED TO SMILE. AND YOU ASK OF ME WHAT YOU CANNOT GIVE: MY PATIENCE?

SULEJA: 

There is nothing funny in watching the little boy on the bed next to my daughter’s, groan in pain in the general ward. His father has stopped coming. Just the mother who beg everything from the rest of us in the ward. Bathing soap, pap, plates, kerosine, occasional 100 Naira to eat.

His drugs has been infrequent because he can only receive when we contribute money for his mother. You can notice the reluctance in seeing him from the medical team. They keep prescribing and none is acquired. He can’t even be discharged because he will need to pay his bills. But he gets worse. Yesterday he didn’t get a blink. He screamed all night. His mother says the father can’t visit unless he has something. 
ABUJA:

They call us IDPs now. Hahahahaha. What a nomenclature. In my own country. And what is being done about it anyway? Besides using us for media advantages and coming to take advantage of our young daughters in the night?

A few bags of rice and used clothes. Thanks to the churches and private individuals who truly have shown care.

Well…incidentally this is a country that poses as seriously fighting teenage pregnancy and HIV. What goes on here is diametrically opposed to that pose. And they all turn a blind eye, even when we complain.
AUCHI:

Another accident just happened at that very Coca Cola curve. My count since I came back 2 weeks ago is now 7 auto crashes. Lives lost nears 52. On just one spot in a long stretch of poorly engineered and constructed road and a non existent maintenance.

I also note the frequent long and loud convoy of some VIP traverse same road daily.

I don’t know those who have died here in person since this 2 weeks, but I feel a loss each time it occurs. I see nothing funny in any of that.
BUT I AM EXPECTED TO SMILE. AND YOU ASK OF ME WHAT YOU CANNOT GIVE: MY PATIENCE?
ONITSHA:

Just closed our shop. My Oga has promised my parents that in 2 months I’ll be a free man. My own Boss. Just looking forward to that day.

But I have to pass through this DENGRAM road to link Awka Road, our home. There is a commotion towards the bridge and gunshots. Oh hell! 

Heard later that Chuks, my mate in the shop died along with over 30 others who were said to be carrying out a peaceful rally for Biafra. Shot point blank and he wasn’t even armed. Chuks wouldn’t dare touch the kitchen knife sef. He was to be free too in 2 months time. What a loss. 
PATANI:

Few kilometers to Mbiama junction, a gun shot. And our driver drove into the bush. Swampy as I expected. The boys came into the swamp with us. They shot you before asking for money. They all looked like they were out of one boarding school. So so so young! And they had 2 teen girls among them. My lucky day again but not without the stress of being stranded.
AKURE:

My aunt says the heat must have given my father’s health a wrong turn. He seemed worse with the advent of the heat. But we can’t use the generator set my older brother bought us. There was no petrol in the fuel stations. Another strike. Not that I was sure we could afford it though. I mean, we still can’t go for regular check ups at the medical center. So he will die from this Diabetes? 

He has not drawn a penny from his pension since retirement 7 years ago. After serving his country for 35 years. 
LAGOS:

Another bomb scare. Thankfully that didn’t explode. But a trailer just fell off an old bridge at Ojuelegba. Killing everything it touched along its way.

Oh! Finally an explosion. A fuel tanker this time. Radius of death can only be imagined. 
BUT I AM EXPECTED TO SMILE. AND YOU ASK OF ME WHAT YOU CANNOT GIVE: MY PATIENCE?

No one important got killed in all these. No one important felt my pain. They only read the news break over #20 satchet milk, #150 newspaper and hugs from loving family members.
I have decided not to give MY PATIENCE any longer to leaders of #MyCountry. To manage #MyCountry and her wealth in escrow for us isn’t a job that needs patience. It isn’t a job that requires reluctance. It’s a job with clear responsibilities. And it comes with a manual- the constitution. How hard can that be?
I have decided to stop internalizing my pain. I will express it outwardly in a controlled and quantum module daily. I will speak and not be silent. I will stand on the side of truth until it wins or I die.
We don’t need patience. We need a re-calibration of our priority scale. We don’t need censorship, we need to have a discussion. A continuing discussion. We don’t need voices silenced, we need the plural voices harnessed. 
We do not need to live a sham, we need to consolidate the federation. 

We don’t need liars, we need true patriots. We don’t need denials, we need apologies.
Above all, we don’t need to shed one more milliliter of blood for this nation to move forward. If we still do, then it is either it wasn’t a nation in the first place or we aren’t moving forward, or we are moving forward in a wrong direction. 
The choice is still ours.
#IWatchTheNation.

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