The man who barked walked towards me. I couldn’t see him in the poor light, but his figure became clearer as he approached, and I noticed he was holding some large item slung across his right arm. As he drew nearer I realized with trepidation that he was carrying a gun. A submachine gun. My body went into quick alert, my brain racing faster than the speed of light. Are they cult member? Armed robbers? What?
“What is in your bag?” the man asked. And as he did, another dark figure quickly approached me. And he too was carrying a gun! Jesus! Now I started sweating in the evening cold. This second person came to me rather quickly and grabbled my back pack. I started to protest. I held my backpack firmly. These guys were not as big as I am, neither were they as built. So in a normal contest, I could best them easily. But this wasn’t a normal contest. They had an undue advantage. They had guns.
“What?? What is the problem”, I asked feebly…with a hint of plea in my tone.
“We’re anti-cult officers,” the first man explained. “Don’t be afraid.” I could see his face clearly now, and on an ordinary day, he’d go for a nice young man, without the gun, that is.
“We’re anti-cult officers,” he reiterated. “Some cult members exchanged bullets with my men this evening. What is in your bag and where are you coming from at this time of the night?”
As he was speaking, his brother, who did not bother to say anything to me, finally seized my bag, opened it and started grabbling the contents. By this time, my head was cooled a bit. They weren’t robbers. They were more like police men, without the badges, without the uniform…and of course, without the twenty naira question hanging in the air.
I stay in Awka, in Anambra state. Here, we hear the sound of gunshots almost on every other day. Where my apartment is used to be the headquarters of cult members, until some vigilante group were employed as watchmen. So since I arrived here, I haven’t had any dealing with any cult member or seen anything suspicious, hence my moving around at night. This night I had to surf the net urgently and I took a while to finish. So here was I, strolling down on my street, humming Cold Play when these gunman approach.
“I’m coming from the café, and I have my laptop in my bag,” I replied him, with a bit of forced confidence appearing.
“Don’t you know where you’re living?” Gunman Number 1 asked.
“How can you be carrying your laptop at this time of the night around?”
I was silent. At this time, Gunman Number 2 was still searching every hidden crevice in my bag, looking for a hidden weapon. When the search
was finally over, I was handed over my bag and told to leave.
“Be careful not to stay this late next time oh!” Said Gunman Number 1, who I was already starting to like.
Getting to my room I heard the story from my flatmates how bullets from both cultists and vigilante were pouring down the streets like raindrops, and the sound of them like incessant thunderbolts; how the vigilante guys weren’t they bit afraid of the cultist, and how they finally put them at bay. It made me wonder what the world was turning into.
I remember a friend telling me of his armed robbery experience here in Awka. He and his colleagues in the bus were asked to get down by these eleven men with guns, and after he explained that he was a Youth Corper serving in Anambra State, he was told to step aside. “Don’t worry,” said one of the robbers. “I’m a student too like you. A medical student. It is the government we’re after. Not you”
Granted, my friend wasn’t hurt in any way, (grateful too), but it was the robber’s words that had the most impact. He was a Medical student!!! You’ll think that people who carrying guns and raid innocent victims are illiterate degenerates, but these people were educated. Very educated. So I asked myself , why? Why? Why would a
human being wake up in the morning and decide to pick up a gun to threaten and perhaps shoot another human being? Is it hunger?
Vengeance? Thirst for blood? What exactly? The more I ponder about it, the most the answer eludes me.
Who do we blame? The government that is busy creating the good roads, building schools and subsiding school fees (at least here in Awka that’s what the government do? Or should we point the finger at the parents who sent these kids to school? Or the society? I’m not too good at playing the blame game, sadly.
Here in Awka, robbers are the ones in charge. I wanted to go to the bank the other day, and I was told the banks were closed because some robbers sent a message that they were going to strike that day!!! It was such a funny occurrence, yet it wasn’t funny at all.
Picture this: a typical village square where men go about in shorts hanging their hoes from their shoulders, and the women go about in wrappers and beads around their necks. All of a sudden, the town crier bursts into the village beating his gong.
“People of Awka!! Great people of Awka!!! I bring a terrible message from the armed robbers who came last week. They said they are coming again tomorrow oh!! They are coming again tomorrow oh!!! So please be on your guards!! A word is enough for the wise! A word is enough for the wise!!!!!!””
Incredible, isn’t it!! But that’s just the way it is here. And I’m thinking: is there a solution to all these mayhem and infraction?
I’m still thinking…
[Image via WN]