By my calculation he was a man in his sixties. I fought the anger welling in me to bring down the roof with a vortex of vituperative words. To him, I was a young man with no immediate plans for the future. My anger was more of that than my apparent disgust at his plea for managing the environment. As we listened, more out of ‘respect’ than common sense or logic, I was greeted by two half-naked children wearing only pants who had just ran into the compound from the next gate. My eyes locked with my friends. We gently excused ourselves that we would come back. In addition to the poultry house, I could be asked to tend to kids also.
Just looking back I have come to a conclusion that our culture of ‘managing’ things has made us excellent managers. We managed the cramped hostels and therein we developed the spirit of communal living and tolerance. The toilet system was overused, so we managed the bushes surrounding our hostels. The grasses welcomed our visits because we gave them sufficient manure from our bowels.
We managed the overcrowded lecture rooms and laboratories. That gave us the spirit of resilience. We adopted strategies. We could double as Olympic sprinters as we jumped seats when we ran in our numbers from one lecture hall to the other. So when our contemporaries went abroad where managing things was actually the real managing of things, their brains went cerebral.
Nigeria is a country of managers. We manage NEPA’s candle lights. We manage our football pitches. We manage our hospitals when they cannot properly treat us. Above all, we manage the government with its penchant for profligacy. At best they have taught us delayed gratification when chanting “E go better!” is our normal response to comatose situations.
We are all managers in Nigeria. So, in as much as managing broken things is our lifestyle, we can truly manage huge and important projects because we are all proficient managers. Afterall the Bible said we’d be committed bigger things if we managed small ones.
But somehow some folks who couldn’t manage the things we manage have escaped. It takes sheer courage and determination to escape the brutal conditions here. How else would you describe the heroic antics of a fifteen year old boy who decided to stow away in the tyre of ARIK’s aircraft thinking he would find himself in America – the land of the free?
He couldn’t manage the beatings of his guardians anymore, so he decided to beat it. He managed to stow away, hugged the clouds and when he expected to see oyibo faces when the aircraft touched down, he was disappointed.
He deserves a medal. At least for daring to kiss the heavens and clouds.