Ojuelegba has its place in history. Good or bad. Some of you who love moving in the night would attest to the beauty of Ojuelegba. Forget about the confusion that is associated with it. Even Afro beat King, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti respected Ojuelegba so much that he made out time in his album to sing about Ojuelegba with vehicles coming from north, south, east and west without a single traffic officer. Logjam!
Ayilara street remains one of the streets that catapulted Ojuelegba to prominence with the nocturnal movement, trading, trafficking, smoking, sex boom that has become its hallmark. Every country has its own Ojuelegba. It’s a pity that most times our law enforcement agencies go to the extreme by dislodging such historic landmarks in Nigeria. Out here in Brazil, there is a typical Ojuelegba in the outskirts of Sao Paulo which has almost been turned to a tourist attraction.
There is no difference to the activities in Lamires street in the downtown area of Republica except for the rising sky-scrappers that bear the signature of virtually every Brazilian building. There is law and order with the police maintaining vigilance 24 hours. People mill around as women of all shades solicit for customers.
They have canvassers with posters of beautiful and loaded women posing in very provocative manners. Nigerians here call the posters ‘Point and Kill’, referring to the choice that one makes on the posters. Once you identify any girl on the poster and pay the mandatory fee, the first stage of pointing is ascertained.
Then, you are taken to her room to complete the ‘killing’ aspect. It is a booming trade. There is no foul language of calling one a harlot, prostitute or ashawo or akwuna as is the case in Nigeria. This is a system that recognizes prostitutes as professionals who work hard day and night to earn foreign exchange for the country.
They believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy. Beyond prostitutes, the number of drug addicts and hookers who occupy open air crack-lands are amazing.
They feed on left-overs and yet have a home in the open streets. The police over-look and protect them because they are Brazilians. The question of immorality in Brazil is not questioned. It has become their culture and parents and government are not disturbed. Like they say: ‘’Wine and women make wise men dote and forsake God’s law and do wrong.” .
However, the fault is not in the wine, and often not in the woman. The fault is in the one who misuses the wine or the woman or other of God’s creations. Even if you get drunk on the wine and through this greed you lapse into lechery, the wine is not to blame but you are, in being unable or unwilling to discipline yourself.
And even if you look at a woman and become caught up by her beauty and assent to sin [ adultery; extramarital sex], the woman is not to blame nor is her God-given beauty be disparaged: rather, you are to blame for not keeping your heart clear of wicked thoughts. … If you feel yourself tempted by the sight of a woman, control your gaze better … You are free to leave her. Nothing constrains you to commit lechery but your own lecherous heart”.
For a country not so hard on morality, what is their AIDS statistics like? Brazil’s Aids programme is widely seen as a model for other developing countries. In the early 1990s the World Bank predicted that in 2000 the number of Brazilians with HIV would be 1.2 million and rising. The current number, however, is around 630,000.
The government puts great emphasis on prevention, with education and publicity campaigns actively and openly promoting safe sex among high-risk and vulnerable groups.
Brazil was also the first developing country to commit to providing free anti-retroviral medicines to people with HIV, and the government has put pressure on international pharmaceutical companies in order to reduce the prices at which it buys anti-retroviral drugs.
This is a country that cares for its people, all round. Schools and medi-cares are free, prostitutes are protected, alcoholics are given homes, roads are smooth, electricity is certain as tomorrow that will come.
Let us not wipe out our landmarks. Ojuelegba is bubbling in Sao Paulo. That is where Supporters Club lodged their members. Those who do not stay there cannot do without visiting there either in the day for food or in the night for food of the soul. Ojuelegba lives!
Is Africa in Nigeria?
Credit must be given to Nigerians or Africans for their knowledge of their cities. It has become a general thing here to know of any Brazilian who is so versatile with their environment without referring to the GPRS. Taxi drivers cannot locate a street without consulting it. The receptionist in my hotel confessed that she does not know anywhere in Brazil outside Sao Paulo.
And here I am moving to almost all the landmarks of Brazil ranging from Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Curitiba, Manaus, Recife, Belem etc. Ask a Nigerian on how to get to Calabar and he will tell you the streets and the buses to enter and how many hours(except for traffic and robbers blocking major roads) it would take you. Ask a Brazilian of a street next to you, he turns to his GPRS or map.
It was the general lack of knowledge that made a man ask where I am from. I told him from Nigeria and he jabbered on asking; “Is Africa in Nigeria? I know Kanu, Okocha. Great footballers. Are they from Kenya?”. Where do I begin to lecture him from other than to say ‘’Kenya ko, Kema ni!
Hearts ‘ll be broken!
You don’t spend a month and two weeks in a place without getting familiar and close to many things and many people. Despite the language barrier, friends have been made and some of them have become very close. As the World Cup draws gradually to a close this weekend, smitten hearts are already bleeding.
Goodbyes would be difficult to say as no matter the hugs and kisses would bring back the warmth of being together for the length of the World Cup. Promises of coming back to check on them are easy to say, but not practicable because of the distance and resources. I feel for those who worked with me and helped in my stay here. I say; “Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us”. Obrigado!