Through the special grace of God I was privileged to be at the birth of my second grandson in the United States of America.
I arrived at the hospital with my daughter, her husband and their first son at about 5.50am. We were politely welcomed and checked in by the security people at the entrance who in line with their anti-child theft policy placed security coded tags on our wrists. We were thereafter ushered into the neo natal unit where a friendly reception team checked my daughter’s details and admitted her into a room identified as the triage.
From that moment on my daughter was treated like a royalty. We had nurses and doctors all dotting around her explaining what will happen and at what time. In my usual inquisitiveness and curiosity I asked many mad questions and respectfully got very polite answers. However, as the coward I can sometimes be, I refused to go into the theatre with my daughter, her husband and a team of medics who surrounded us. I simply could not bear to watch anyone cut up my own child. So I was shown into a waiting area and advised to help myself to any refreshment I fancied. I immediately regretted this constant weight watching madness because I would have fed like a king at no cost at all. After all who does not like freebies but never mind there will be another day.
I always believed that I have a heart of steel but discovered how wrong I have been because nature soon kicked in and anxiety and fear took over the best of me. I could not work my phones or laptop and became even more anxious and restless going through what for convenience I will describe as every mother’s “ifs and buts”. My only friend became my Catholic Rosary. I did not realise that I could still pray that much but I did. God in his majesty as always calmed my nerves and sent me into a deep sleep. Thank God that I did not have to worry about any hungry angry petty thief speeding off with my hand bag because they would have even stolen me if they tried. That was how deep I slept. I give it to God all the time. I was totally blank and had no dream which was quite unusual too. My dad used to call me Joseph the dreamer and he was never wrong. I am a friend of good and weird dreams.
I suddenly woke up and as audacious as I can get sometimes I marched straight off to the reception to ask about progress and why they were taking so long. As I approached the reception desk the doctor who led her team of about ten medical professionals came rubbing her hands with sanitizer and said “congratulations, it’s all done, mum and baby are fine.
Nathaniel Bassey and Gabrial Eziashi would surely be very proud to know that I entertained Oyibos with their Imela and aka aka ya tunes because I immediately erupted into a dance move which only God knows what style it was but I had to dance and sure did dance well because I could see that the doctor was amused. Fast forward, I met my new grandson, my daughter and her husband and could not believe how kind God has been to me again.
As I held the baby and hugged my daughter I fought back tears of joy but deep inside my soul I was in distress and hurting very badly. I thought about our Chibok girls in captivity and their parents. The joy these people may rob them of if they are not found and returned to their parents as soon as possible, the average Nigerian expectant mother sleeping on a hospital floor with their wrappers and their new born babies who then followed later after hard labours in some dirty labour rooms. Some mother and their new babies who may have died needlessly because there was insufficient or no care at all for them and then compared them to the first class treatment my daughter and her baby are receiving. I told myself that “there was indeed a country called Nigeria” and wondered if we will ever have it back.
I thought that I had seen it all at the triage but I was wrong because the best was yet to come. We were ushered into what I thought was a joke in the name of a mum and baby ward. For the sake of modesty I will conservatively describe it as a 4 star hotel because that is what it is. It is a self-contained unit with everything you see in five star hotels and extras too. Again, I was joyous but sad for my people especially young mothers, children, and the elderly, mentally and physically challenged in my country Nigeria. I have heard stories of people dying of minor aliments at home or hospital corridors because they have no means of getting any form of treatment.
“I was more touched and angry because many of our leaders and their families use our money to come over to the USA and take advantage of the country’s safe and beautiful health and education care facilities while leaving my people to die in vain” I was even more distressed because many of my people who bear the full weight of the irresponsibility and recklessness of many of our leaders because of our age long inherited sectional and religious politics will defend these people and still vote for them while people like me who speak about these ills are the trouble makers and enemies of one government or another who live in diaspora and must be denied the right to vote”
Although my daughter and her husband specifically invited me over, they do not really need me to be at the hospital. There is everything that my daughter needs. She does not have to go out to buy food, drinks, and syringe, medications (fake or real) or have to be denied treatment because she has no money. Her husband and his friends are constantly around her without him excusing himself to go and buy anything or borrow to pay their hospital bill. (I remember arriving in Nigeria once and having to head straight to the hospital to pay for blood and medicine for a relative to avoid her being sent home to go and die needlessly). The doctors and nurses have been trooping in and out checking up on their patient and new baby plus advising on child care and support. The way they check the baby from sickle cell, hearing etc. is so amazing that I now think that my handsome boy is already a world leader like Obama and others. What child with such a start in life would ever fail?
To top it off, in addition to providing the baby with everything from diaper up to comb for his hair, there is also a card from the office of the governor of their state welcoming the new baby. I nearly fell off my chair laughing at that wondering if apart from coming to give people expired bags of rice, bread and money in exchange for votes, how many governors in my country cares about who lives or dies in their states needless to talk about who gets a card from their offices. It is certainly a very long journey to freedom from self-destruction for Nigeria and many other African countries for sure but I am not sure when we are going to start taking that first step into our journey of one thousand miles and if we will ever start that journey.
I have got so much on my mind and therefore not sure how to end this amazing eye opening story of the experience I have had in another man’s land. I am somehow angrily compelled to advise Nigerians and Africans to wake up, hold hands and confront the common enemy; bad leadership.
We must begin to campaign against our leaders and their families travelling abroad for medical treatment or education. If the hospitals and schools they ‘built and are maintaining’ in our countries are good enough for the ordinary suffering Nigerian/African citizen, then they should also be good enough for them and their families. We are all born equal before the Lord and law. Forcing yourself on others as a leader does not make you more important or special than anyone. At the end of the day we are all going down 6ft and so should be treated the same.
To start our journey into freedom from self-emasculation and unconscious preference of evil over good, we must consider starting a peaceful and very successful revolution against the evils of bad leadership in our country and continent, we must hold hands and forget these people and their usual lies about religion and tribe. The two are powerful weapons of mass confusion and control which they are determined to continue to use in distorting our minds over what is right or wrong so long as we continue to wallow in ignorance and fall for their tricks. Succumbing to their tricks prevents us from sharing the rewarding joy of mutual love, tolerance and unity while they carry on with the looting and plundering spree unperturbed under our watch.
We must recognise that our common enemies have a common agenda which is to continue to rule our minds, lead us and our generations and then ensure that we are kept down while they climb higher and higher enjoying and dissipating our common inheritance.
We must be courageous and fight for our freedom from bad leadership. Our major weapons must never be guns, bombs, knives or hatred. They must only be unity, understanding, tribal and religious tolerance and above all trust in our collective ability to lead ourselves and be led by good and great leaders who we must encourage to emerge through good democratic practices.
We must discourage monetisation of politics which makes leadership the preserve of a few whose fathers or god fathers have benefited from the bad leadership of the past years that has produced and continue to produce billionaires whose only preoccupation is stealing from the same people they are supposed to be serving. This will not only give us some sense of belonging and ownership of our country and future but also allow good competent leaders of merit to emerge. If we fail to do so posterity will judge us very badly.
The current jokes by our political parties about millions of naira as expression of interest and application fees for various political offices is simply a class act evidencing the determination of the bad, crooked, hideous and totally selfish to continue to lead whether we like it or not and must be resisted.
I could not stop laughing while despairing too when I read about some politicians talking about how their people and some long term unemployed youth have asked them to run for political offices and even bought tickets for them. In my mind but God please forgive me that was the biggest joke on them making them look like a special class of clowns but Nigerians are used to stomaching that sort of foolery and nonsense so they think that we are fools.
May God forgive and help us out of our self-imposed punishment inspired by greed and controlled by our silence in the face of evil.
JCO Nov.2014 ©