My name is Ezinne and when I was in primary 2, there was this quiz Aunty Nnenna made us do – we affix “aunty” or “uncle” before the names of our teachers. It is something we did to show respect in the way mister and miss is used. She pit the boys against the girls, said the girls should try hard to win. We were. But then she would often turn to the boys and yell, “will you let the girls win? Shame!” I didn’t understand this. I mean, did she not want us to win; not expect us to win?

My name is Amanda and there’s this boy, Chukwuma who is fair, and has dark circles around his eyes. I met him in 2009 on the first day of js1. I noticed him because when our eyes met he nodded at me. It was strange. I had only seen people greet each other like that in black films. I liked it. I liked that he greeted me like that, and so I said hi. I smiled my crooked smile at him, he smiled back and we got talking. He’s a first child, an otaku, and was a weirdo like me, so I told him I liked him and the boys around us began to giggle, and the girls began to smack their lips. I would later learn from my friend, Ozioma – who I caught whispering with potato-face Mmesoma – that a girl is not supposed to say such things to a boy. Had I no shame? In 2010 my family moved to Trans-Ekulu. I was so excited because I would no longer be that kid whose friends couldn’t visit because she lived on the far side of town. I had nursed the thought of having Kamsi and Njideka over. On Monday morning all they would talk about are the play dates they had during the
weekends. Then during lunch period they would ask me to come with them to the toilet. Then they would make me stand guard in front of the toilet door. They would go in and come out almost immediately. It didn’t make sense to me but I acquiesced every time. I wanted friends and these girls were the only ones that came to be with me after I got news in school that my father had been shot on
his way back from work. I had thought they were going to look at their budding breasts but Kamsi and Njideka didn’t have breasts. I did. My mom was worried I would not grow any taller when I was 12 because my breasts were almost as full as those of my elder sister who was 7 years older than I was. She would say, “nwaa i di sure na o nwero onye na-api ara gi?” People who go through puberty early do not grow to be very tall. On Sunday my mom was having a mood. She said, “Where is this girl? All you do is sleep”. I was washing plates in the backyard. Then she said again, “Where is this girl? Go and buy Ugu.” I try to stay out of my mom’s way on Sundays. My father would often complain that my mom is a terrible planner. He said she only remembers what to cook when her tummy begins to growl. And when her tummy begins to growl my three sisters and I become “this girl”. I wore the handle of the black polythene I took to the market around my head and threw the rest of the bag to my back so that the heft of the Ugu in the bag would bounce on my bum while I hopped back home. I also enjoyed the way the dust rises when I stomp on the ground with each hop. Potato-face Mmesoma’s mom stopped me in front of their brown gate. She said I should help her greet my mom, that “she would have come over oo” but she was in Lagos the week my dad died and had just come back. She said she heard her husband had gone to our house but she was still going to come see us herself. I greeted her. “I’m better, Ma. Thank you very much”. Then I continued my galloping. This woman wasn’t going to achieve what my mother’s mood could not.

“Fine girl! Psst!”

I was on my way.

“Nwa! Psst!”

I continued on my way.

“Psst! You dey mad?! Are you deaf?”

And a hard swinging kick brought me to be on my back. They said I was mad. A fine boy was calling me and I ignored him. The biggest boy lifted my from the ground and dragged me towards his face by the collar of my purple and green Barney t-shirt. He spat more angry words at me, then he took brief pauses to pass raunchy jokes to the 2 other boys standing akimbo beside him. I struggled, hit his chest with my knuckles. They should hurt him. My uncle said if you want to punch somebody to injure, punch with your knuckles. He dragged me closer and closer to him. I clutched my nylon now because it was falling off my head. He poked my tummy hard. It hurt. I pulled away. I held his hands. He poked me harder. It poked me harder. I was getting hotter. I cried. And I bit him. I ran home. I ran and ran – very fast – even though nobody was chasing me. When I slammed the front door shut, my mom ran out startled.

“O gini! O gini!” She pressed me to her bosom and used her spare hand to wipe the sand on my hair. “Why did you not just stop? If you had greeted him politely and told him you were not interested this would not have happened”.

I was out of it in school the next day. Kamsi and Njideka called me to go with them to the bathroom as usual. My legs ached and my head was pounding that morning but I smiled and obliged. I took my position and leaned on the wall. I didn’t care that the dead blue flakes remnant of the wall paint were dyeing my white, I wanted to be rid of my breasts. These girls were stupid, and I was stupider for
indulging whatever “play-play” they were doing in there. If only they knew that the only thing perky breasts get you are merciless catcalling, and breast cancer. My legs were hurting, my bladder had now started to feel heavy, was soon going to cry. Why were these girls taking this long? I pushed the door open. What was the worst that could happen? They were probably done anyway.

I left Enugu after secondary school. They said in my school that University of Ibadan is the best law school in Nigeria, so I applied there for university. When I was in final year, I got an internship at Jobberman. It didn’t seem like anything at first. I was to work in research under a stout dark Indian called Freddy. On my first day, he asked me to summarize the case on the Coal Miners’ foundation versus the Federal government, 2019. I felt it was a little too much, I mean, this man was just getting to know me. I had thought I would be getting his morning coffee and taking his messages for the first week. He added that it was crucial I delivered before the end of the week. At that time, the Coal Miners case with the Federal government was a hot topic. They were suing the government for 70 million dollars, said it is compensation for the families of their members who died from lung cancer which being exposed to coal apparently causes. It was a boring case and I struggled to get through it. Medicine feels like Arabic Greek to me. I don’t understand how Kamsi who came to UI with me to study medicine was doing it. It wasn’t like it was hard, it was just boring.

22nd of May, 2020, I was in court with stout Freddy. The opening: There is a growing consensus that to avoid climate change, we must cut global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050. The objectives, quite simply, cannot be achieved unless we act quickly to control coal-fired power plants… That opening statement got me 2 million dollars and like any other Nigerian youth who has tasted poverty, I bought a Mercedes e350 and opened a piggery. I pierced my nose and I go out for breakfast at Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro is 2 miles from where I live in Green hostel, Ajibode. I am with Kamsi today. She came around yesterday, said, “Ore mi olowo. What are we doing for Independence day?” Kamsi and I have gotten really close since our secondary school days when she was a scatterbrain who exchanged dollies with Njideka in the bathroom. I have really come to depend on her. We used to be roommates before she crossed over to the College hospital. I like her. I like that she cleaned my fridge and mopped our room. I dread doing these things. I am a lazy Koala, you see. I miss her now that she is the hospital. There is nobody to do help me with chores. So, I don’t mind spoiling her today. I would let her order whatever she wants for breakfast. I am still roughly, 1.6 million dollars rich.

We are nearing the road that linked Ajibode to the Ojo express when I see them, the men that killed my father. I am going to give them the rough N200 in my glove box. I will tell them ‘well done’ and rev the engine in their ear while I drive off.

“Come down! Show me your particulars! How this small babe go get this kind car? E be like say this ashewo work dey pay well-well.”

I pretend like they aren’t talking to me, but I come down nonetheless. I have learnt the hard way that you don’t argue with SARS. You give them what they want. My father’s life was worth 50 thousand Naira to them. How much do they want? I would pay it.

“Officer, well done. What’s the matter? Here are my particulars.” In between the pages, I sneak in a cheque of 100 thousand. That should be enough. I feel hot air rise from my stomach and fill my head, but I smile and rub the man’s pot-belly. I look at his neatly tied shoe lace, follow his starched black trousers up. I notice that thing that that tout used to poke me back then. This fifty-ish year old man is now flashing me his brown teeth. Men are scum.

We get to Kilimanjaro but I no longer have an appetite. Kamsi is enjoying herself, however. Watching her consoles me. When we are done, I say to Kamsi, “Will you come with me to the protest at GRA or do I drop you off at home before?” She says she wants to sleep. Hot air fills my head again, but it’s okay. My activism is personal and I can’t make anybody share my passion.

At GRA, a lot is happening. Flavor is leading today. There is a band trailing behind him, and he is singing. Today feels like a concert. I don’t get it but it is fun nonetheless. The tempo is rising and we are jogging. A really black macho is carrying a light-skinned girl with long braids on his back as he jogs. The crowd is cheering heavily. I doesn’t make sense that we are dancing and gyrating at a protest but my activism is personal and people are entitled to express themselves the way they want.

Kpa! The pace of the jogging increases. Kpa! The motion of the crowd becomes raggedy. Kpa! And there is silence. My name is Ezinne Amanda Okeke. You do not know my name because I wasn’t allowed to be more. I wanted the change we were promised in 2015 and I sought it out myself.


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About the author

I'm Dav-Oz, and  I'm the Chief Editor of The Dav-Oz Blog, a graphic designer and upcoming fashion designer.

I'm just your regular young Nigerian lad with dreams and hope for a better future.

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