Name: Adeshola, Omoniyi
Location: Yaba, Lagos.
Summary: This story tells of the rapid breakup of a family caught in the crisis of Gen. Abacha’s hypothetical quest for life presidency of Nigeria and the defiant anger welling in the youngest child of that family.
It’s been five years since The General became Life President, Father-of-the-Nation, Sanni Abacha fsi, GCFR…etc
Barely three months after the Ota General died of “natural causes” in prison, the ’97 Coup generals had been executed, and the fiery gadfly from Ondo was assassinated at his Lagos home, news had come, just yesterday, that MKO Abiola had died!
The South West, where opposition to The General’s rule was most intense, immediately erupted in revolt.
I’m sitting by my room’s window, looking down at the street from my Uncle’s third storey apartment: this is Mushin, Lagos, were my family lived- an hotspot of the protest. The afternoon sun beats down harshly on the deserted street strewn with stones, tear gas canisters and stained with blood; only soldiers in anti-riot gear walk about.
I think of my family.
Daddy is a lawyer and a member of NADECO- that organization our General hated. Pops was arrested after he spoke out on how they would make the south west ungovernable for the Federal government, just after the executions.
He was first held at Alagbon- we met him there once; then he was moved to Potiskum and charged with treasonable felony before an emergency tribunal. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. We don’t know if the sentence has been carried out yet.
Mummy, who owned a supermarket, had exacerbated her hypertension over the issue of Daddy’s imprisonment: she was spending more time in the hospital than at her shop.
Femi, our eldest brother, was still in his 4th year at the Ife University eight years after gaining admission to study medicine, due to frequent strikes. He is now 29 years. and at this rate, he’d be in his 40s when he finishes there, i think.
Sister Teni- the traitor. How dare she bring an Aboki she met at the Ilorin University to the family as her fiancée? Was she so stupid she did not see that those northern ram-herders wanted to kill us all? Mummy had cussed her out, telling her she would not bless her and her marriage, But Teni didn’t care- she eloped with him. We haven’t heard from her since.
Wale, the third child, dropped out in his final class at secondary school when Daddy was arrested. He joined the OPC, saying he wanted to fight the oppression of the Yoruba people. Mama persuaded him to write the WASSCE; he did reluctantly, and got 9A’s! I think he was the most brilliant of us, but he’d never pursued using the result. He left home shortly after to join the Idi Araba camp of the OPC. Not long ago, he was declared wanted for the death of six kill-and-go policemen. Armymen came to our house looking for him; we were forewarned and had fled. When we came back, the house had been burnt down.
Mummy fainted right there and had to be re-hospitalized. When she did not recover as expected, she was taken to the village. Her tender spirit was broken, she would not be coming back, i know.
I moved in with Dad’s Younger brother. He immediately told me he did not permit rascally behaviour, nor allow any political agitation or violent inclination like my family did. I was to face my studies, do my chores and be a normal 17 year old boy.
But i was still my father’s son, and i cannot change that. So yesterday, i wrote a subversive article and took it to Niran, my best friend. He’d sneakily printed hundreds of copies at his father’s printing press: tonight, we would be distributing it.
If these marauding soldiers catch us, maybe they’ll take us to Alagbon, then to Potiskum where they would create a tribunal made up of wizened, conscienceless men. Maybe I and father will be in the same prison; if he was dead, maybe I’ll be jailed in his cell, and see what last words he’d scribbled there for coming prisoners.
Maybe we’ll sneak in some lollipops and suck on it in defiance while those tribunal people sentence us to death.
Wada Nas or Ofonagoro will justify the killing of minors: their incomparable brilliance shines in these situations.
And at night when they put us before a firing squad, I’ll be whispering the title of the article i had written: “We will not bow” , then shutting my eyes, I’ll wait for the squad commander to shout: “Fire!”