On one of those evenings in not too good a day, a solemn and tired voice infiltrated my atmosphere and knocked to see if my aura needed something to the sweet within my lips.
“Epa wa oo. E re pa. Epa wa oo. E re pa.”
A boy of eight years singing to my ears and hoping for patronage. He looked frail and dirty and I cannot help but wonder if there is a school for him somewhere. It was an evening, schools on holiday and have got no more than my T-fare; else, I would have enquired of him but I could not stand giving him a false hope. Noise busted from a nearby motor park, it had aggravated from a rift between a bus mate (conductor) and a NURTW worker, I turned only to find the young hawker walking away dis-interested in the park’s unrest. I should not have hurried into conclusion nor belittle the fate gifted to him by destiny nor even the God that keeps watch over him; yet, he reminded of a certain ‘ketu-Alapere bus driver’ who kept driving a rickety Volkswagen for over a fifteen years and an over 65years old man handing out Napep daily ticket at bus-stops. Good God save this boy hawker. Only, I only see him at the heart of the park’s unrest in another decade.
What can be said of those already “eating the fruit of their labour” before a child clocks age three. I cannot tell how many other places in our metropolitan Lagos have this kind of settlement; however, much more easily than I can spell my own name, I can vouch that Apapa has this kind of ‘classical mothers’.
“Booda! God will bless you. Booda!! God will help you. Booda!!! God will not let you to be hungry.” Were the words that littered the street of Wharf, Apapa.
My first encounter with such working class toddlers was about six weeks ago when I started my industrial attachment in the heart of Apapa. I was so unlucky to have just come across just one that first time, the young lady who would have done almost anything for a Naira coin, for the queen on stool who was seated a few feet away. I had not seen the mother that first time; pity, remorse and anger had made me felt for her. Had I not in ‘just a hurry’ to beat traffic after a long day, I would have enquired where she hailed from. Then I saw tens on hundreds of these noble boys and girls as the days creepth by, together with their butt-rotten leg-ached brain-withered mother who collect and collet the fruits of their labours. Sadly, a child under two years was out in the cold remains of the day’s never risen sun, learning the trade his elder sister is practicing a few feet away.
Am not being cynical, neither are fingers equal in the so-called ‘advanced countries’. But again, what would you call a mother that sleeps in the bushel of her 3, 4 or 5 years old earnings. Ain’t these kids supposed to be protected by all, I need not say ‘any’, by all means necessary. It is not a question if they do or will go to school when schools resumes, it is a question of what a flicked switch can do to these children’s atomic minds; how there would never had been a Gani, Soyinka, Adiche and even a Tinubu had their mothers swapped places with their children. Am not saying it’s all going to be rosy nor are these great minds born on golden beds. The tears of their mothers and fire in their bloods schooled them through time. Even the great Einstein would not have told of ‘mc2’ if his mother had pushed him to milk cows in complete ignorance so she can grow fat and smile with dimples while he was only eighteen months. Of course, maybe he could have had a journal on ‘cow-thoroughbreds’.
Am speaking of both the biological mothers and the green mother called “Nigeria”, there is always a place of the father in things of the heart, will and might of valour. I cannot tell what became of the ‘classical mothers’ husbands and neither can I of the ‘green mothers’ Lords. I could have said this though “the Greenland is still a toddling, yet, she’s dying and seeing just too much”. And her issues are still Nigerians.
I’ll leave the prospects for another day.