Short story inspired by a documentary I watched about Nigeria. Enjoy!
Kofi did not like to be caught unawares. He had prayed and sought God’s face for months before embarking on his journey to Nigeria five years ago. Up until now he had no cause to doubt his decision. He stood at the farthest corner of the sawmill observing his coworkers. He had never imagined in his wildest dreams that he will be in this position. The guys had understood and had left him with his thoughts. He needed to weigh his options and make a decision quick.
He had fled Ghana because enough was really enough. His family had undergone more than their fair share of hardships. Looking back, he really didn’t know how they would have survived without God. It was a miracle how he was able to afford the trip here in the first place. As the eldest son with eleven siblings he needed a steady source of income to support them and that was exactly what he had been doing since he got this job. It wasn't much but it provided food on the table and kept the younger ones in school.
He loved his job at the factory and had always done it as unto God but lately he had been having doubts. He had never dreamt that he would be forced to leave so soon. This was his home; he had spent countless of hours within this factory walls than in his excuse of a room. Some of the guys had gone through worse ordeals than his so they had bonded. Kwaale’s home had been burnt in a religious clash with his wife and two kids inside. No one understood how Kwaale had managed to remain positive and cheerful; he was an inspiration to all of them. The guys had become his family. But all these seemed trivial and inconsequential as he was still a foreigner to the government. He was categorized under the bad and frowned-upon type of foreigner. It didn't matter that he was a fellow black man who had equally suffered the harsh realities of the colonial rule or that his grandfather was sold as a slave. All that mattered was that he did not possess the usual blue eyes and sand colored hair or white skin of ‘good’ foreigners. Therefore he wasn't regarded with the awe or reverence accorded to them instead he was entitled to the exact opposite treatment.
After hearing the news on the radio last night, one would wonder why he had bothered to show up at work today. There had been rumors but they had all prayed and hoped that it remained so. For goodness sake, it was the twentieth century! People weren't supposed to be this myopic and prejudiced. The white men who had caused all the havoc were still valued and worshiped by this same government. Life was indeed unfair!
He looked around, his co-workers were all busy sawing and fighting with the planks. He smiled as his gaze fell on Iyabo. She was laughing at something Dele was saying. She was beautiful inside and out. She could have opted for office work since she was close relative of the big boss but she hadn't. She was determined to work her way up against all the oppositions. She was stubborn and he loved her more for it. She still hadn't told her family about their relationship and he understood her reservations. As if she could read his thoughts, she looked up and smiled at him. Theirs was indeed a weird combination- the black foreigner and the boss’s kin.
Only God knew what the future held for a love like theirs especially now with the recent news from the "Oga at the top". The head of state, Shehu Shagari had announced that all foreigners with special emphasis on those from Ghana were to leave Nigeria with immediate effect or face the beat of the music. According to him, the foreigners were the cause of the rising unemployment in the nation. If he had not heard it over the radio last night, he would have known when he arrived at work because Dele and some of the other guys had told him about the angry mob carrying “Ghana must go” placards at Jojun junction. They had asked him what he intended to do as some of his fellow foreigners at the mill had fled town. Everyone knew how cruel the soldiers were so you couldn't blame them.
He had been mulling over what to tell Iyabo since he heard and he still hadn't come up with anything. What was he to tell her that would make her leave everything she has ever known? Or did he tell her to keep the fort that he would return for her? And then how long was she supposed to wait? Was it indefinitely? Or was he supposed to wish her well and say goodbye? His greatest fear was the not knowing what her reaction might be. Iyabo was one heck of a stubborn lady. She was stubborn and steadfast in her beliefs, work and love for her family. All these qualities had endeared her to him and he feared that they might be the death of him. He had been praying but it seemed God was silent. He could hear the sound of military trucks and an angry mob approaching from a distance. It was only a matter of seconds before they would circle the mill and then decision would no longer be his or hers to make.
As he approached her station, Iyabo did the weirdest thing. She fled.
Here's the link for the documentary on Youtube
I'm really sorry for my long hiatus. Much love.