My fellow Bella readers I am sad to say that the end of “The Adventures of Miss Biosu” has finally arrived. Four weeks ago, I arrived in Lagos full of optimism and excitement. Now I am leaving having been empowered with knowledge and experience of the “real” Lagos life, of which I could never have learnt from a magazine or a textbook. I have learnt life lessons which will be with me for the rest of life.
To me, the people of Lagos equate strength, determination and astute patience. Though the system has let them down, thousands flock onto the streets of Lagos determined to make an honest living. I feel proud to see young teenagers selling Gala (snack) or water on the roadside. Though some would not class that as a job they would want their child to be involved in.
These young people should be an example to many, both young and old. Instead of delving in petty crime or waiting for the government to supply them with jobs. They wake up early and tiredly spend hours a day trying to make a living. So the next time you come in contact with these road traders, please show them some respect and honour. Though they may not be dressed immaculately or driving cars like us. They are ordinary people like us striving to accomplish their dreams living in the hectic life of Lagos.
Another highlight of the week was catching up with Prosper, a young boy that we adopted as a brother. Prosper is a 15 year old boy that I came into contact with two years ago. From the first day I met him outside my grandmother’s house my friend and I decided to contribute to the future of this boy by empowering his life as much as we could. Initially, we wanted to pay for the young boy to attend a private school. We then learnt that he had two more sisters who were slightly older than him. Placing him into a private school whilst his sisters attended a state school could have caused arguments between the siblings. So we decided to empower him rather then give him a gold spoon. Every semester we pay for his uniform, books and school equipment that he needs. He also attends after-school tuition which we enrolled him in so he wouldn’t spend his evenings on the street. However last Monday he came to me and explained a disturbing story. When he went to collect his end of year exam results his overall mark showed that he had failed and wouldn’t be able to progress to the following year. Initially I was slightly disappointed with him as I knew he was very intelligent, and felt he should of applied himself more. However he was adamant that he had worked and studied hard for the exams and he felt he was cheated.
“Aunty Liz, I worked hard oh, even one girl that did not even come to the class scored higher than me. These people cheated me”
He was really upset with what had happened. I encouraged him not to worry and to go back to the school to see if any developments had occurred regarding his results. Two days later, he returned grinning from ear to ear. It was clear he had some good news for me.
“Aunty guess what, they said those results were fake and the new results show that I have passed”
Though I was now happy he had passed and would be moving into the following year. I was slightly enraged by why he had to go through such palaver. I had so many questions but I realised I was just wasting my time, this was Lagos and sadly these things occur on a daily basis. I was just happy that at least I was able to support him through it all. We later went for a walk around the estate and he begun to discuss how he can not wait to move to London to further his University studies. I challenged him that it was important he stayed in Nigeria for his University studies. I listed many of the top Universities in Nigeria that he should strive to attend. Sadly, this intelligent 15year old had made up his mind that life abroad was much better. I then questioned myself was I convinced by the advice I was giving him? Did I really think he could make a difference to Nigeria if he stayed? What did I know,I said to myself. Having studied abroad all my life, I had never been exposed to these educational challenges before. Was I just babbling off as another “know it all westerner”.
Maybe my darling Prosper had a point. Studying in the west could give him a more secured future. For the first time during my adventures I felt rather irrelevant and much more like a foreigner. I didn’t have any answers. It wasn’t a pleasant night sleep for me that evening.
As my week with the Down Syndrome Foundation came to an end, we had one final event to organise. It was a fun day aimed at raising money for babies with Down Syndrome to be flown to India for heart operations as sadly there are no facilities in Nigeria to accommodate this specialist operation. Unfortunately for us, the rain hit us hard as soon as the fun day begun. However the children were not to be deterred, with the DJ playing their favourite songs the children unleashed their amazing dancing skills. After a busy week of activities it was great to see the children having fun and being appreciated for who they are rather than being ignored. They didn’t mind the rain either as all the attention was on them. On the day a 5-aside competition was organised which included teams from DHL and Mega Plaza. With these corporate companies taking part it was a great way to educate more people about what Down Syndrome was about. Finally our campaign was reaching a wider audience of people.
Within the next 48 hours, it will be back to reality for me, back to the rat race of the 9-5 lifestyle. Finally in an environment where there is infrastructure and a system that works. Most pleasingly, I will have access to electricity 24 hrs day (only if I pay). However in all honesty none of the above benefits of living in London could ever measure up to living in Lagos. With all of the challenges of living in Lagos if I had an opportunity I would relocate to Lagos within a blink of an eye. Though my reasons would not be based on what Lagos could offer me but more how I could contribute to the lives of people in Lagos.
I am sure many of you are familiar with the song “there is something about you, something about you, something about you girl” by Dr Sid? Those exact words summarises my love for Lagos. There is just something about living in Lagos that I love. I can only compare it to the genuine love between a husband and wife. You know when you meet that special boy or girl. In the beginning, they appear to be the most amazing person, but then slowly you learn there are many mannerisms or character traits that you just don’t like. However the genuine love you have for him/her allows you to overlook their imperfections whilst just remembering the good things that made you love that person (I hope my love analogy makes sense).
Goodbye Lagos, I have truly had the adventure of my life thus far. You have welcomed me with open arms and tolerated my western antics. I only pray more people will be able to experience you for who you truly are. Though this adventure is truly over, I look forward to reading “The Adventures of Wale, Remi, Fola, Seun, Dotun, Kunle, Funmi Bukky and thousands of other young vibrant Nigerians living abroad, Just know this is not the last you will hear from Miss Biosu, though this particular adventure is over. I know many more awaits me. You never know I may find myself in Sierra Leone next.
Until next time, less talking and more walking.
Note: Thank you to BellaNaija.com for giving me this opportunity to share my journey. It has been great working with you. Thank you to all the Bella Naija readers for leaving your lovely comments. Lastly, thank you to all the workers and children at the Down Syndrome Foundation you have impacted my life in so many ways. For this I am eternally grateful.
To get involved with “The Adventures of Miss Biosu” contact me at www.missbiosu.blogspot.com