By Osa Amadi
“Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” – Jacob in Genesis 47:9.
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. A lot of people from my village lived at Mafoluku, and I knew where some of them lived. One day our items were booked in front of a big house facing a compound where my village people lived and it was a Saturday. As I was offloading and setting up the chairs, table and canopies, I was conscious of eyes peeping through drawn curtains of a room where my village people lived. Sometimes little kids in the room would flip open the window curtains, suddenly exposing adults standing and peeping at me from the rooms. I could imagine what was going on in their minds: “Oh! This world is strange! How did the mighty fall? People who were eating on the table before, now, suddenly, they are eating on the floor.”
Strangely, I did never feel ashamed. I was not doing anything I should be ashamed of. I was engaged in an honest labor. I did not have any complex. Deep down me, I knew who I am – Simba, the son of the Lion King! I had graduated from one of the best universities in black Africa. I am the author of BURN AGAIN which I wrote as an undergraduate (please permit me to boast a trifle, even if to console myself). Besides I had a clear vision of where I was going. Today, although I have not gotten to my destination, I am no longer at Mafoluku loading and offloading rented party tables, chairs, and canopies. By the grace of God, I am writing this column today June 28, 2018, from Moscow, Russia. Thanks to Vanguard Newspapers.
Today, also, only few steps separate me from PhD in communication studies. Today, Uncle Sam Amuka, Chairman and Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers would call me on phone and say “Osa, how are you,” addressing me by my first name. At other times when I meet him physically he would shake my hand and say, “Osa, you are a good writer. Keep it up. A lot of people are reading you.” Similarly, my Editor, Mr. Eze Anaba would say to me in the open newsroom: “Osa! You’re doing well,” while the Chairman of Vanguard Editorial Board and one of the best and fieriest writers in the world, Nnanna Ochereome would say to me: “Osa, you are a good writer.” There are others who do not say much in words but I feel the love that radiates from their hearts towards me and I know that they say the same thing.
What else do you want me to be? God? For me, these are invaluable verbal Testimonials and Certificates for which I would have been more than willing to pay any amount of money to acquire had they been offered for sale. From time to time, from people I do not know, I receive calls and messages telling me all kind of things ranging from how something I wrote had impacted on their lives in poistive ways, or made them weep after reading it. Someone sent me a text message recently saying I have become one of the writers that make him buy Vanguard Newspapers. Yet, we have not discussed my already recorded and unrecorded musical works and what I do on the piano and with my voice. Surely, I need money. But honestly, I value these things more than money. Some people may regard them as little things, but there is no guarantee that one will be able to find value in big things if one cannot find value in little things.
Sadly, some of those people who were peeping at me at Mafoluku are dead (only God decides who lives and who dies at any point in time) and the rest forced back to the village by circumstances.
Surely, I need money, but there are a lot of things in my value system that far out-weigh money. I have never been intimidated by anybody or anything in this world. My mind reduces all material things to metal, wood or rubber which have transient, ephemeral values. That’s why I am a very happy person. We are sad or happy in life depending on the perspective from which we view life, the earth, the universe and everything it contains. That’s what’s called a person’s world view or philosophy of life.
As I’ve said before, the one room where I lived with Freedom and Longy was rented by Maxwell, Caro’s husband. The man who owned the house was also an Alhaji. He was fair and so fat. I could not remember ever seeing him walking about. He was always sited at his balcony near the entrance to the compound, and I did never see him talk to anyone. People said all sort of uncomplimentary things about him. They said he was a wicked man. But I greeted him every time I passed. He did not answer my greetings in any coherent way – only a very deep “hmm”.
I was surprised one day when the Alhaji called me as I greeted him when I was returning from work. I was also startled that he could speak very good English.
“What is your name?” He asked me.
“Sir, my name is Osa Amadi,” I answered.
The Alhaji shook his head slowly and sadly. “What is the relationship between you and Madam Caro, Maxwell’s wife?”
“She is my sister, Alhaji. We are from the same village,” I replied.
He shook his head again sadly. “You are a good man,” the Alhaji said. “I have been watching you since you came to live here. You are different from the rest. I wish I had another empty room I can give you. Your sister said I should tell you to pack out of the room.”
I stood still. The world around me also stood still. The Alhaji kept looking at me, almost more melancholic than I was. I did not want such pity. I recollected myself and smiled and told Alhaji that there was no problem; that I would leave. But I did not leave immediately.