In Nigeria, If you don’t laugh, you will run mad – Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

In Nigeria, If you don’t laugh, you will run mad – Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

Do you know why we crack so many jokes? We Nigerians? If you don’t laugh, you will run mad.  During the 2016 Easter Holidays, something happened.  My kids were on a two week holiday. But it was the worst time to be on holiday. 

The heat was unbearable.
There was zero electricity.
There was also fuel scarcity.
There was no water as our water pump needs a big generator to power it. The last time we used ours, it broke down. All the flats in our premises come together to hire a generator once in a while.

It was a Saturday. We had used our generator to run all through the night so that the fridge would ice over and we would be able to sleep. Our smaller generator cannot charge the inverter (mind you, we have 3 generators.) My husband went for a meeting and I had errands that included finding fuel because we had nothing. My kids were to stay at home. They started hounding me for light so that they could watch cartoon. When I explained to them that it wasn’t possible. Then they wanted to follow me out. I had no idea how long it would take to get fuel and there was no way I would keep them in a fuel station, I refused. They asked me to put on the generator, I couldn’t, no fuel. They started to cry. 

I was upset already at how frustrating everything was so I snapped at both of them. 
“Why are you behaving spoilt? Shut up my friends, why would you cry because of cartoon.”

They were surprised at how aggressive I sounded and their cry dissipated to whimpering.  I look at them. Both drenched in sweat even though they were wearing only vests and underpants. A 5yr old and a 3yr old.
And I felt fear. 

Why were we struggling to keep them in an unreal state? Their Nigerian reality is that there is hardly any electricity. The earlier they get used to that, the better for everyone.
Then I felt shame.
Shame that I was shouting at small kids because of this STUPID state of our country. In 2016, is it out of place to want 24hour electricity? Is that so far-fetched? Is it a bad thing to want light? It is a basic need in this world we live in. In fact, countries go years without blackouts. 
And then I felt ANGER
In Nigeria, the giant idiot of Africa, yes I said idiot, we cannot get anything right. 
Nothing is normal here. NOTHING. If you have never left the shores of this country then I would understand that you think this is normal. But I tell you this life we are living is abnormal.

How is it normal to own 3 generators, an inverter and a borehole while living in the heart of the city?
How is it normal to be in a government hospital and you still have to be taken outside to do half of the tests?
How is it normal to have water boards in every state and still have no water?
How is it normal to have a life expectancy of 55years?
How is it normal that whole villages are sacked by known marauders yet the only discussion is how to reward these sick deranged killers with grazing reserves?
How is it normal that pensioners have to picket for months of unpaid pensions?
How is it normal to go months without being paid salaries?
How is it normal that almost every single government institution is in shambles and people are left with no choice but to be fleeced by private institutions fed by the failure of the government?
I have been to a government office where their toilets were beyond disgusting as they would not release money for disinfectants yet they buy status cars every year.
And before you blame civil servants, try educating, housing, feeding and providing healthcare for a family in a country where the public institutions are moribund. If a civil servant is not corrupt, he will die without owning a house, have poorly educated children and end up dying in front of a state government house picketing for his pension.
It is like running a race, athletes wear really light clothing, it makes running easier.
Imagine running this race with them while wearing fat suits. And that is not all, your luggage is on your head. That is not all, you are logging generators, inverters, kerosene stoves and charcoal. You will not see the backs of the other runners. They have left you tay tay.
Over 50 years of ruling ourselves and we are no better than when we started out, perhaps even worse.
There are people that will live and die in old age in Nigeria without experiencing a full day of uninterrupted light. 
The useless slave drivers keep us in perpetual darkness so that they can import generators and inverters and sell to us.
That is how Thermacool will make specific products tailored to sell to our ridiculous country.
“100 hours of cooling.”
“In built stabilizer”
Those long funnel/pipe things so that we can pump fuel from our black jerry cans to the generator cannot be a staple in the average European home. 
The STUPID leaders we argue about travel at will. 
They know what normal is.
Do you think, they will lie down in your hospitals to be treated for even malaria?
Do you know people still die of malaria?
Do you know women die like fowls during childbirth?
Have you been to a hospital where when it is 11.30pm, an attendant brings a rechargeable lamp and once it is midnight, they switch off the generator?
Did you see the picture of that woman that was wearing a miner’s hat with a torchlight on it to administer drugs to patients in a teaching hospital?
We die like rats. 
Have you been to retirement communities abroad?
Where you see more old people than you have seen in your entire life.
My parents died both before 70.
Only a handful of people live beyond 70 here.
A country where hospitals will wait for you to produce a deposit before they treat a person almost dying and in some cases they do die.
Do you blame them?
Do you know what it takes to keep a business afloat in this country?
I once heard of a man that tried to start an energy drink company here. He was frustrated every single step i.e registering the company and all the other permits. Mind you, no one was going to finance him, just to get a business started, bribes are being collected here and there.
When he left the shores of this country, he was able to start this business. Someone quit Redbull to push  his dream and now this drink is being imported and sold to us.
Carefully constructed to kill dreams. 
How won’t you excel out of Nigeria? If you were able to have marginal success here then know that you are a genius.
We are running the race, suffering and smiling. Carry all this baggage and complaining minimally.
Then they still slam us.
They hike the fuel price.
Minimum wage remains the same.
They hike electricity tariffs and deliberately make getting pre-paid meters a big deal.
Inflation hits and we are paying almost 50% more on things we need to survive. 
They are receiving medical care abroad.
Their children did not withdraw from foreign schools.
They are still flying upandan.
No sacrifices on their part. 
They steal the bricks and tell us to mould the mud with our sweat and tears.
And with empty stomachs, we fight ourselves defending them.
They that know what normal life looks like abroad.
This is not normal.
No one should tell me not to go to church.
No one should scold me for daring to hope.
Where else is there succour?
People in pain need to be spiritual. How else do you cope?
Do you seriously want me to say there is no God here in Nigeria?
Do you want me to accept that my life is subject to these people that care nothing about me?
I refuse to.
When I whisper a prayer and I feel a burden lightened who are you to tell me I am foolish?
Atheists in Nigerians are the silliest of all.
Oyinbo say there is no God from the comfort of their homes where everything works. It is easy to understand why they think so. What do they need God for?
You are suffering here in Nigeria, you may live up to 55 if you are lucky. Or you may die at 55 if you are lucky. Because the 55years was not a walk in a park. It was a mosquito ridden, nepaless, pothole filled life. And you refuse our opium. You are either very stoic or very foolish.
I am tired. 
Don’t worry, tomorrow I will be me again. 
That is how we roll.
We have these moments of anger and then we find the laughter and forge through the day.


So how dare you deny us of 1hr at midnight to find spiritual strength to cope without crashing?


Lastly, if they ever give us steady light uninterrupted for a year, I will NEVER celebrate. The decades of darkness they subjected me to will not be forgiven in my lifetime.


Read more from Abiodun

This is how they gang-raped Jos -Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha [Graphic Images]

I should mind my business, abi? by Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha


About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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