THIS IS HOW YOU DON’T GO TO HEAVEN (WHEN YOU ARE BORN IN NIGERIA)
First, Nigeria will kill you.
You will be born at night, but because there will be fuel scarcity, your father’s car will have no fuel. That little fuel he bought from his two-month-late salary (now debt payback) will be in your 1KVA generator that gives your house light. The light that will make him see that your mom is in labor. He will get mom to the hospital with the neighbor’s Keke Napep. Those things are fuel-efficient and they save lives! Well, they saved yours.
Dad will get you-in-mom to the hospital that has doctors, nurses and midwives on strike. The ‘gate-man’ will understand your mom’s plight (his wife has been there too), and offer the gate-house. So, you will be born in a gate-house. Then, you will die.
Welcome to Nigeria.
Now, you are living the life after death. In it, you will go to a private school (your parents want a better life for you) and be better than your neighbor’s son (make a mental note to teach him his homework: his father’s Keke saved you). He isn’t dull – your neighbor’s son – it is his school. His classroom has 1000 students in the class. 100 humans sitting on 14 good chairs and desks, 30 makeshift, don’t-move-or-we-fall-down chairs and desks, then a brown floor for the rest. Then, 900 lizards in 2000 wall-cracks. Don’t weep for him, the other classes are not as good.
You will complete your education two years longer, because there will be ASUU, ASOUP, PASU, LASU, WASIU, etc strikes. It will be one thing or the other till the Nat. Ass. intervenes. But being the National Ass., they are well…you should know jare.
Because you are unlucky, you will serve in the North and Boko Haram will push you southwards. Election violence will kill some of your unluckier friends. The President will make all promises, including bringing them back to life. He will be on the matter forever (resurrection is a lifetime task, my dear). But to show good faith, he will promise to also bring back a couple hundred abducted girls. The President is a good-hearted man. The thing with promises like that is they take a lifetime to fulfil in Nigeria. Your people will shout. And make rallies and take selfies with hashtags. After a thousand likes and a million retweets, they will keep quiet. Your country has been growing that way (by hashtags, likes and retweets).
You will finish your NYSC and this time you will be lucky. Your father’s friend, his uncle’s nephew (I know. I know. It’s him or his brother, right? This is how we say these things, abeg) will get you a job.
You will buy a car, build a house, marry. You will be happy. Life will be good. God bless Nigeria, you will say. You will have children. You will go to church. But you won’t sing in the choir (the bathroom is good enough).
Then, you will see your neighbor’s son on TV ‘changing the world’ (shame on you, you didn’t teach him but he still made it) and you will remember you had dreams when you were younger too. But then, you now have a wife, kids and a big belly. You will sigh every night and quit watching the news. SuperSport it will be, where you will bury your shame in Ronaldo’s Balon d’Ors. But then, you will jam him at a friend’s party one day and he will invite you to a seminar to ‘change the world’. You will be shamed by his smile and success and the memory of your failed promise to teach him his homework and you will attend.
It is in Port Harcourt. You stay in Lagos where you already have a good life. But you want relevance. And a legacy. Your friend’s legacy. You will give your life to it till the day you will break away and start your own thing that changes the world.
Then, Nigeria will remember you.
While you are on the road to change the world, you will forget it is wiser to change Nigeria’s roads first and that forgetfulness will cost you so much. Your second life. You will lose it to Nigeria, on her road. Nigeria kills you twice.
Your wife and kids and friends and neighbor’s son will cry. The people whose lives you have affected will cry. Everyone will cry, except the choir. They will sing. You will be ashamed because they sang. And you will cry.
You will arrive at the Pearly Gates. Dead.
St. Peter won’t call your name. There will be nothing to call. It’s not in The Book, your name. You will ask whether it is because it is so long you had to compress it to “Ali Dada” while alive, but the Saint will calmly explain:
“When you are born in Nigeria, you first die, and when you make that first baby cry, it is a resurrection cry. So, the life you live after – wherever, however – is your second and eternal life.Sorry it was short. Your eternal life.”