Name : Aghogho Sam
Location : Lagos (Federal Republic of Nigeria)
Summary: After Warri’s secession from Nigeria, the oil rich nation joined the ranks of developing countries. But did this development in Warri change the outdated mindsets and traditions of the people ?
When Warri Republic was declared an independent state, everyone laughed. That was twenty years ago, the last time you visited there. It was the last time you saw Baba, whom you swore never to see again, after he called your wife Aga amosu, barren witch, “Your bareness is shaming tradition !” he said to her.
You were startled the moment you entered the airport. “Welcome to Warri International Airport”, read the electronic marquee on the door of the Arrivals section. Everyone back home in Nigeria talked about Warri Republic, how the secessionist state had become a beacon for Africa, but you did not believe. Three months ago, after the government of Warri lifted the travel ban on Nigerians, you decided you had to see the wonders of Warri Republic, with your own eyes, and also visit your father, Baba, who was ailing.
Foreigners from all parts of the globe were trooping in and out of shops, hotels, restaurants, and malls, in the airport, you were bewildered. As you walked around the airport, you could literally see your reflection everywhere, the walls and floors were light brown polished marble. It was heaven in Africa; you wish you had brought your wife along.
On reaching the immigration section, you were greeted by a beautiful young Wafi national. She wore a brown ankara fitted gown which stopped just above her knee, nails were manicured , black stilettos, and her braided hair was tied to a bun. A tag on her breast pocket read “immigration officer”.
“Good morning sir, hope you had a nice flight” she said with a dazzling smile, the English you heard was impeccable. Surely, if you had a daughter, she would be this beautiful, you thought. However, after 20 years of marriage without a child, you were still waiting on God’s divine favour.
“Please bring out your passport sir”, the lady said with that dazzling smile. Of course, you complied.
The necessary protocol was done in no time, and you decided to give the immigration officer some money as an “appreciation” for her service , just as it was done back home in Nigeria.
“No sir, thank you. We are always at your service” she said with that same dazzling smile. You were amazed. Warri na wa !
The train ride to Baba’s home was a tourist trip around Warri Republic. You were dumbfounded by the skyscrapers you saw, they were gaints compared to the ones back home in Nigeria. The bridges and even residential buildings were so beautiful; they looked like a sculptor’s work of art. A lot of monuments were erected to honor Wafi nationals who fought for her independence and freedom from the Nigerian government when she was still called the Niger-delta. Monuments of notable Wafi nationals like Ken Saro Wiwa, Asari Dokubo, and Bovi, decorated the city.
Even Baba’s house was not exempted from the unexplainable development taking place in Warri Republic. After just two days at Baba’s home, you were marveled by the constant power and water supply. Amazing.
But, soon, all your amusement in this new nation would be dampened.
“My son, please sit beside me”. Your ailing father mustered strength to call you for a serious discussion after two days of catching up on old times and reacquainting. “I will soon be joining my ancestors, yet I do not have a grandchild from you, it is against tradition”
“Keep quiet ! listen to me ” he shouted even in his weak state. “Shu, when would you let go of that Aga amosu , barren witch !”
“What did you say Baba?” .
Warri Republic had evolved, you thought your relationship with your father had evolved too, but you were wrong.
“I said when would you let go of that barren witch and get a new wife?” he retorted.
You could not believe your ears, after 20 years apart, and 20 years of development in Warri, this old man’s mindset had not change.
“You can change cities, but not mindsets and traditions” you thought.
“I’ve had enough of this, I can’t stand this country” you said, “I’m going back to Nigeria this night”. You headed for your room.