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Esco: Suffering & Smiling – Everything Is Going to Be Alright

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I was 13 when my family fell upon hard times. My old man had invested his fortunes in a string of ventures which ended up hemorrhaging funds – akin to fetching water with a raffia basket.
The change in our family lifestyle started with the disappearance of certain perks we used to take for granted.
Holidays disappeared from our calendar. Christmas visits to the village stopped too. We had watery beans on Christmas day one year. My father was a nervous wreck, and had an irritable temper whenever it was time to pay school fees.
My baby sister, Kpomkwem, oblivious to our predicament, asked my Pops as he sat on the bedroom floor sorting through piles of bills and financial statements in the red. “Papa, when are we travelling for vacation. I want to go to see London Bridge”
Papa should have replied: “The year, 2000-and-never; besides have you finished helping to pick the beans in the kictchen?” but being the wonderful father that he was, he reassured her saying “Very soon, Kpom-Kpom, very soon…”
Very soon never came.
Now that I am older, I realize that what people classify as hardship is all relative. Your present lucrative lifestyle of champagne, luxury whips and a mega crib in Lekki Phase One, which you celebrate as having arrived, might be the worst nightmare of an Adenuga, Dangote or Warren Buffet. At that point in time, compared to the way of life I had been used to, the changes forced upon my family, at 12, constituted economic sabotage.
You know how many people have a minted Uncle, who helps, pays school fees and gives them pocket money if their own folks cannot afford to? I never had one of those Uncles. My father was that Uncle, as he was the first and only one to escape the cycle of poverty my extended family had labored under for generations. I had palm-wine tappers and rural farmers for uncles/aunts, and the only freebie I ever enjoyed from them was a sack of boiled groundnuts, during their frequent visits to harangue my pops for money. My father was the support system for not only me, my mum, my siblings but also a whole multitude of relatives, hangers-on, in-laws, leeches. So when he crashed, the food chain burned – until they found a new mugu. Adebayor, I feel your pain bro.

Then one year there was a majestic drop in the family fortunes, as steep as the sides of Olumo Rock. My father called a family meeting in his room, during which he read the riot act. Mum stood in the corner of the room sobbing, while my eldest sister took notes as the designated family secretary. Kpomkwem stood there, chewing the comb off a chicken head, with snot running down her nose.
Going forward, there are going to be major changes to how we use resources in this house. Nobody should cook more than two cups of rice per mealtime. Mama Esco will monitor the quantity with a measuring cup. Do not use sugar for anything other than akamu. Do not use sugar to drink garri. In fact, no-one should drink garri at all, as it should only be utilized for eba. In fact, we are no longer buying sugar in this house – the Federal Ministry of Health warns that sugar causes diabetes and other health problems.” What about honey?
My old man was not finished: “No more big name brands for groceries. Dano, Nido, Pronto, Ovaltine are now non-grata in this family. All allowances have been discontinued. Elder siblings hand the younger ones your old clothes. Youngsters, if you outgrow your trousers, cut them into shorts.” Esco was a younger one. Sigh. I need new baffs na.

We kids, looked fearfully at each other, as we pondered about this new economic order, just like some politicians are dreading Buhari’s reign. My mum was still sobbing into her handkerchief, like Mama Peace.
My dad adjusted his wrapper knot, and twisted his chewing stick, as he changed gear to a higher speed.
Two slices of bread per person only. No more margarine, except Sunday morning breakfast before church. Moi moi is now a vanity project as it wastes beans. Try not to invite your friends over if you know they have longa throat…

Things really got worse. We had sustained periods where NEPA disconnected us for owing. I frequently had to do the 0-1-0 involuntary diet plan because there was just enough money for one meal. Our home fell into a state of disrepair, with ceilings leaking water when someone had a bath. I became a video technician, because I couldn’t let my VCR die on me. I and siblings became like crabs in the bucket, competing for food, benefits and comfort.

Pressure builds character. Hardship is life’s greatest onye-nkuzi. People handle strife in different ways. Some of my siblings struggled to adjust, while a few took to the change like a cattle egret to rubbish dumps.

My first sister, who used to be a fashionista discovered how to get bargains from bend-down clothing at Yaba Market and still look sharp. I learnt how to eat, be dissatisfied, but resist an Oliver Twist bang on the head from asking for seconds. I found ways to make the darkness from a NEPA outage my friend, by reaching deep into my thoughts to cool and entertain myself as I lay there in the blackness of still night with the intense heat. I learnt how to jump Danfos/Molues from one end of Lagos to another, with the dexterity of a California surfer. I rode the iron horse (okada) like the Biker Mice from Mars and became a connoisseur of street food. I nearly learnt the art of not paying the bus conductor, but the fear of lynching overcame me. Learnt how to be a have-not, and not be envious of those who had bastard money. How to feel dignified in lack, and not to cower in insecurity. Suffering and smiling is a delicate art.

I also became a mathematician, as I learnt to subtract fake fair weather friends (air-conditioned love) from those with unconditional love. And divide my resources so that it stretched like a catapult.

An ex-schoolmate’s Pops went bankrupt in the mid-90s, when N55m deposit got swallowed up in a failed bank. They moved from their house in VI Extension to a 2 bedroom flat in Aguda. His children changed schools from St Savior’s Ikoyi to a Jakande school somewhere around there. I visited my friend once after his brother had survived a mishap, almost falling into the neighbourhood well, when trying to retrieve a ‘fami’ (you know those black rubber pouches used to haul water from a well?). They were feeling sorry for themselves because they went from oil wells to water wells. Their dad used to fly first class, now he was flying Chisco night bus on the weekly. He never recovered his fortune, suffering a massive stroke from worry a few years later. Very few of their old friends from VI came to see him.

In Nigeria, success has many friends, but poverty and struggle are orphans and outcasts. Our country does not operate a safety net system or a welfare initiative like certain western nations. So everyone, no matter how well off presently, is just one miscalculation away from poverty. There’s no middle ground, a shrinking middle class, and no parachute support from government to save one from middling penury in your time of need.

The first pain of a child is seeing struggle etched on the face of its father. However, everything I went through back then made me resilient, defiant and humble. I have endured two major tough periods in my short life. The first prepared me for the second. The first was as described above, and then the other was in my adult years – a 3 year funk, during which nothing seemed to work for me professionally or personally. I appeared to have a huge monkey on my back, the size of a Bagco Supersack. My blog was born in that period of difficulty.

If you are going through a tough time right now, believe that it is only for a moment. I hope I can encourage you somehow:
Keep on Keeping On
When you are struggling, it seems easier to go into hiding. Nah, put yourself out there; stay striving and keep networking. Keep your head up, like a plantain seller balancing a tray. Distribute your resume, share your business proposal and continue shoving your business cards into people’s hands. It will bear fruit, as all seeds do -except for an Agbalumo seed ravaged by a local champion.

Resist Acts of Desperation
It is imperative that you get your mentality right, because there is no force more unclean than an act done in desperation. Life owes you nothing; you have to work hard for your success. Shun bad influences like an ill wind that blows 2nd hand smoke. I remember a philosophical gem scribbled on a bus: The downfall of a man is not the end of his life. You will soon rise again, like the rate of the Dollar against the Naira

Lord willing, you will be up and running in no time. One Love.

Some get a little and some get none/
Some catch a bad one, and some leave the job half done/
I was one who never had and always mad

Naughty By Nature “Everything’s gonna be alright” (1991)

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Iraterekh

Fellow Nigerians, it is with the utmost pride and sincerity that I present these memoranda as a living testament and recollection of history in the making during our generation. Preamble: Esco is a lampoonist, content provider for hire, and convener of the blog Literati: Satires On Nigerian Life www.woahnigeria.wordpress.com, which is a symposium to project the conditions of every Nigerian and inspire young people all over the world. He is currently working on his memoirs “The Great, Wonderful Adventures of Esco”, which will be available in 2016. Esco can be reached for scripting writing, ghost writing and editing work by email at [email protected] Oh, and he occasionally tweets at @Escowoah.

102 Comments

  1. Austar

    May 14, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Beautiful piece!!! love it….

  2. iwalewa

    May 14, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    #story of my life #i can picture myself in this article #one thing keeps me going,’Never give up.Its not over #positive life

  3. Worried single mum

    May 14, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    thank you.

  4. Fanya

    May 14, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Great write up. Witty too. My family also fell from grace to grass as a result of my dad’s bad investments.. But thank God for the resilience of my mom…we climbed back up. Women should always strive to work or run a business. The economy is too unstable to rely on only one income.

  5. Barr 'Bimbola

    May 14, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    THANK YOUUUUUU!!!!!

  6. Sarah

    May 14, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    My family went through a similar fate. We are better now. A child should never see her father cry.

    • POLYPOLY

      May 14, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      I disagree!!!! ughhh, that’s why I like americans. they allow their children understand what hardwork means. Sometimes you will have and sometimes u will not. So the lesson after a child see their parent wiping the tears off, is that “when you fail, there will always be another opportunity to succeed”.

      continue selling ur kids the fairytale that wealth lives on forever. no wonder many naija kids/wives are dependent on daddy’s money…..sheessssh

    • Ocean Beauty

      May 14, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Ocean Basket.
      It’s people like you that employ as househelp, a 10year old whose family fell on hard times and she is the first with 2/3 siblings after her.
      All in the name of allowing a child understand what hardwork means.
      If you don’t understand the gist, just read and pass.

    • D

      May 14, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      @ Ocean beauty, Polypoly is not talking about child slavery so please don’t twist his/her words as doing such. The truth is the average Nigerian family, i.e during the time of grace we never think of teaching our children the importance of work, (Go to Unilag or any college campus in Nigeria majority of the students do not know what hardwork means) Most of the time those that work are the ones that are going through challenging times financially, that is, working because they have no other choice, not because they are being taught the importance of work, once my child can spend money, they can understand what it entails to make it, now i am not saying get your 10year old salary job but for going above and beyond at home, give them a gift it does not have to be even money and then once they are 16, omo, start bagging groceries somewhere and teach them to save, that’s another ranting story will not go there today. And you see that even in the West. Mummy and Daddy pay for everything through school, child does not want to do any internship because really they don’t see a need to, mummy and daddy pay rent, food and send allowance then graduation comes your counterparts are getting jobs because beyond school, it is what have you done outside of the books that has prepared for your real life and our kids struggle.

  7. Annie Mbz

    May 14, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    You just made me remember” Ifami ” those days, before u finish calling my name i would have filled up abt 10 buckets of water with it, to tell u hw am so used to it. Lolz am a pro in dat venture. God punish poverty…hmmn! not there yet but i really thank God am not where i use to be… #keepkeepingonindeed# nice write bro

  8. Ocean Beauty

    May 14, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Story of my life.
    I drifted into the 90s as I was reading this. Memories came rushing back.
    We lived in a small room and palour bq with the compound sewage (soak away) in front of it. Cockroaches were hell. When it rains outside it also rains inside the house as there were many places leaking. In fact when leaving the house, we have to position basins, bowls, buckets etc at different spots if not, when the rain comes….. We couldn’t afford a carpenter, a television. I finished secondary school without us owning a TV. Na neighbour or friends houses I dey watch TV. Ceiling fan was provided by a kind relative.
    Mum’s salary was just able to put only food in the stomach. It couldn’t pay for anything else. Not even medical bills.
    The way the breakthrough came sha is the story for another day.
    All those money sucking relatives will continue to look from afar.
    When I tell people i have to work twice as hard and smart, they wont understand.
    They won’t understand what it means to have only 6 naira with 2 sick kids that you had to beg “chemist man” for “counting paracetamol” (tablet not in the sachets)
    Let me stop for now and continue to work as that’s about the only thing I am good at

    • MIST

      May 14, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      E-Hugs to you my dear, God is truly a rewarder of all efforts.

    • Dom

      May 14, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      You brought tears to my eyes. 10 000 000 hugs. God bless your effort.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      May 14, 2015 at 11:00 pm

      Nne (or Nna?). Hmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmm. No words but I feel the emotion in your memory…

  9. K

    May 14, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    I love this….. keep on keeping on!

  10. oluchy

    May 14, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    l love this, superb delivery, l have been there too but is all getting better and better now. Thank you for this wonderful writeup.

  11. Beaubelle

    May 14, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Esco you are the truth!!! Really, “it ain’t about how hard you get hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! “

  12. kk

    May 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Nice write up…

  13. Scared Homosapien

    May 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    I need to french kiss you.
    You are so gifted with words and writing skills. You put this message out in the most intelligent and witty way. Thanks a lot.

  14. Ndali

    May 14, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    This was very encouraging to me, I feel like it’s meant for me. They are different phases to this. Fast forward to last phase which is acceptance. The key is to keep pushing and never give up.

  15. omooba

    May 14, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    One of my favorite pieces ever on BN. My own story just came to mind, and i look back now and say ‘Thank you, God.’ Everything IS going to be alright, or as i used to chant to myself over and over…’Everything will fall into place….verything will fall into place…’ Thank you, Esco.

  16. Ayo

    May 14, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    This write up is so deep.

  17. Anonymous

    May 14, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I laughed so hard on my seat at the office o. nice one Esco!!! words to live by

  18. Chi Brown

    May 14, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    I can so relate with this write up. My family went through same situation. Am grateful that we faced each day knowing that we are saved by his grace. @Sarah i agree with you #A child should never see her father cry. Am truly humbled by my experience growing up. Thank God things are looking up. Do not despise the days of little beginning #StayingPositive

  19. Shaded

    May 14, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I am going through a similar fate at the moment. Dad lost his job last year, since then things have been goin from bad to worse. Mum’s civil servant salary is just enough to keep food in our stomach.I am through with university and looking for a job,but it’s not easy to get a job in Nigeria, So I make clothes, The money I make from sewing is barely enough to help the situation at home, everything is just so frustrating, Daddy has been writing letters upon letters of “request to extend payment” for my sister to take to school instead of her school fees. We ate 2 slices of bread nd tea laced with enough water this morning. Some times I just wonder if things are ever going to get better, we went through this while growing up.why is it happening again. Just very sad right now, don’t even time to go out or read like I used to,I’m just 21, I just sew and sew till late in the night, just to make ends meet. of everything, wat I feel very sad about is my kind and caring dad, the look of despair and hopelessness on his face, or how he would wear his work clothes, walk round the house and end up in the parlour…I just wonder where he would start from, who would give a 50 year old man a job.The thing about money is that, when you have enough, you don’t feel hungry, you wont just feel like eating anything, but when you don’t have money, ehhhnnnn, it would seem as if someone dropped an empty drum in your stomach, as I am typing this ehn, if you know how hungry I am ehn, but I have limited my spending to 150 per day, Cos m saving up to buy another sewing machine. I going to keep working and praying hard for things to get better and look for time to take my dad out to see a movie.I am working on a business proposal to get a loan set aside for women from access bank.let me get back to it.

    • Esco

      May 14, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      Wow. I am very sorry to hear what you are going through, and I hope you can feel encouraged during this difficult time. It cannot be easy shouldering such a burden, and I hope you and your family can rise and come out of this stronger. Dont give up. One way is to imagine the joy and sense of accomplishment you would feel when you have come out of this period and you look back. God bless

    • Liz

      May 14, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      Hi @Shaded can you email Bella Naija your contact details, I would love to contribute to you purchasing that sewing machine. You remind me of that hustle spirit that I had at your age. I love that you are not complaining but trying to push on

      @BN is that ok? Can I contact you to get her email address?

    • Agatha

      May 14, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      Seconded BN or any way to contact shaded

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      May 14, 2015 at 11:02 pm

      I’m with you on this.

    • koins

      May 14, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      Im in too

    • DatEnuguChic

      May 14, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      Please hang in there. Im glad you are not sitting around waiting for a non existent job. Your gift will bring you before kings. I have been through this situation twice and trust me its difficult and life will get easier with time. Always make time to sell yourself to the right and keep improving your skills, you will enjoy your labour. As for your dad please always make out time for him cos i’ve lost my dad and sometimes i wish i did not postpone somethings i wanted to do for/with him. I wish you well and God’s speed!

    • iyke

      May 14, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Hi,
      If you can drop your email address here, I promise to contact you! I am interested in knowing what you want to do with extra sewing machine.Maybe I can help!
      Cheers!

    • Nur

      May 14, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      HI,
      share your email address on this platform so i can send you some work opportunities currently open in my place of work.

    • nur

      May 14, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      Please drop your email addy here. Want to share some opportunities with you.

    • chi

      May 14, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      Hello nur,i am not shaded but I would drop my email address and hope that you share the current job opening in your place of work.you never can tell,in your bead to help one it could extend to others too.thanks. [email protected]

    • Thatgidigirl

      May 14, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      Hi Shade, I have a sewing machine that’s as good as new. Got it after I went to fashion school but didn’t use it much before I left the country. I would be more than willing to give it to you if you want.

    • Liz

      May 14, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      @thatgidigirl that would be amazing.!!!!With you sorting the sewing machine out. The rest of us could just contribute to making sure they have food in their house. ‘@Shade please respond.

    • Sobered

      May 14, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      @Shaded. That’s the spirit. My grandfather was rich but he died young and his brother took over all his property and sent the children to the village. My father went from riches to roasting fish in the village. The thing I admire most about my father is his resilience. When he talks about how he made it, his days of trekking 10miles to sell things, of going to school with no fees and refusing to leave until they let him in, I know that willpower is key. I’m not saying that success is exclusive of God but I know that even an atheist who is determined to make it will make it.
      Be determined to make it and you will. Be strategic with your plans. I like that you have plans to expand your business. I like that you are putting in hours sewing, It might be tough now but just keep at it and it will be well.

    • deb

      May 14, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      Hi. As I read ur story I burst into tears because it’s so painful&its something I can relate to. Please don’t say NO!!! Post ur bank account details, lemme gv u a lil something to add to ur money for the sewing maching.

    • Zara

      May 14, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      Ohhhh honey !!!

    • vee

      May 15, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Is there a way I can contact you?I have a mini machine for sewing that I am willing to give to you.

  20. Ochouba Chidinma

    May 14, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Loved!…………. Thanks Esco…….you totally made my day!

  21. Temi

    May 14, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    This is absolutely beautiful. and I needed to read it. I have not been on BN in sooo long and the first feature I read is this. The universe is at work!!! I went from laughing out loud to instant sobriety in the three minutes it took to read this. Funny as it is, it really is not that funny is it? You my dear Esco are a very brilliant man.
    On a different note, I think Nigerian buses when I was in primary/ secondary school had the funniest and randomly inspirational stickers. I once saw a “if God bifo me”. It is not by any means the funniest one I have seen, but it got stuck in my head that one.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      May 14, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      You’ve entirely articulated what this piece did for me tonight – I was laughing like a loon (tears in my eyes and all) for the first couple of paragraphs and then taken straight on to an extremely sober place. There is a beauty in what was written here that just… Ah, Esco. We love you. Don’t put any unnecessarily salacious slant to this, oh. But we love you.

      Thank you for sharing these words that very (very) many people’s hearts need at this time. God bless.

  22. portable

    May 14, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    @shaded
    Get back to the letter dear, night can only be so long, morning will have to dawn at last. Especially when you back hope with work and dreams with action. Keep sewing, keep looking for that job too. One day soon, one of them will bring the relief you need.

    Try not to despair tho, enjoy today, It will amaze you how precious the memories from today will turn out to be tomorrow. Thank God for everyday, do your best and consciously stay happy.

    I’m on the next level of my hustle and yesterday keeps making more sense with the dawn of everyday.

    with you in your hustle. xoxo

  23. Tosin

    May 14, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    that’s life mennn.
    ‘everybody’ loves you when things are bubbling. but just in case bad luck is contagious, nobody wants to catch it. and then we die. 🙂

  24. cutechocbella

    May 14, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    awwww…i laughed then i got teary eyed…nice write up Esco!

  25. Jessy

    May 14, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Everything is going to be alright.
    Thank you!

  26. chu

    May 14, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Funny enough, hubby and I were talking about our childhood and the things we went through last night, It was a good bonding experience cos I got to know him on a deeper level. We both had it tough, but we toughed it out and right now we always see the hand of God in all we do. We have not gotten to here we want to, but for every dream we set we see God come through for us. This gives me hope that it will keep getting better. I have also learnt the power of agreement.
    For everyone that may be going through tough times, know that there is a silver lining and God does reward at the end, just stay humble, do the right things, do not compromise, put God first and see him rise on your behalf.

  27. Inspired

    May 14, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    U jst spoke 2 my soul, thanks 4 d piece, I’v resolved 2 keep keeping on and keeping d hope alive no matter how blur it looks @ d moment.

  28. mio

    May 14, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Thank you Esco. You are gifted

  29. Niola

    May 14, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Esco, I have told you, if not for God.. polyandry where you are involved. and you write very well, your circumstances certainly did not define you, only refined you to be dogged. You have just etched on my mind four lessons i learnt whilst growing up :olowolaiye mo( the world knows only the rich), no condition is indeed permanent ,how grateful I must be to God. and fourth, the reason why I work as a woman…..

    • Manny

      May 14, 2015 at 6:18 pm

      Indeed olowolaiye mo.

  30. @edDREAMZ

    May 14, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said..
    .
    Gob bless yu for this write up….
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  31. Psychic

    May 14, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    This almost brought tears to my eyes cos my dad was one of d firsts to build a house amongst his siblings and everyone came to to him 4 help and so even when we fell on hard times there was no 1 to call on,we had a house naa we were rich oo,even when we had nothing to eat and not a single one of us had shoes,our school shoes were our church shoes,our party and playing shoes.What happens is the dad becomes frustrated and your mum starts to loose her smile from working too hard to make ends meet.But there was a grace upon my house and we never ever looked like what we were going through and we were contented which made it just harder for any1 to help us and we also knew how to make jokes about my dads irritable moments so that meant we didn’t loose our friends cos we were not parasites and with all we went to the best schools,fees were paid even if it resulted in high bp for everyone concerned,it was just lack of good food,clothing etc that suffered. These days,often when I’m driving i just shout *thank u Jesus* that i can have a car? in my wildest dreams mba! cos i know its just been his grace,all my siblings are doing great as well. If my dad still chances upon my room,he will say *young lady your shoes are too much* LOL,those shoes are important daddy.

    i have a 9-5, 2 small registered biznesses and like a million little little other things i do. BTW all d biznesses i might make less than 10,000 a month sometimes,but I’m making something..motto c/o Pastor Sam Adeyemi : i shall never be poor again. We are a praying family from my dad 2 the last born and we understand even some people are just hoping to be in our horrible shoes.

    With prayer and handwork,you can’t go wrong.

  32. Agatha

    May 14, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    This is a beautiful piece that I can relate to….the funniest thing is everyone can relate to it as well..In a little or big way. Life in General is not easy but your goals/dreams can be achieved with determination/discipline, education (formal and informal), humility, an open mind, to take constructive corrections and try things that you normally wouldn’t do Or didn’t think of. And lastly prayer, constant and true communication with the Supreme Being….do not give up, do not give in, keep keeping, life can be wonderful, it’s up to you.

  33. This story brougth tears and memories back

    May 14, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Story of my life. When one of the banks went down where my dad used to be in a managerial position, things went awry for us. My dad used to be so chubby and full of life, in no time he emaciated to the size of an ant. He kept on thinking and thinking. I remember back then when my uncles and aunts would come early almost every Saturday to eat a rich meal of yam and egg and then pounded yam with egusi in the afternoon, all of a sudden, they were no where to be found. The family name was one of the most popular in the church and on the street due to our donations, but many people turned against us after that incident My dad truly knew who his friends were.
    I and my siblings used to be the envy of our mates then and would be regarded as ajebo. Schools were changed, meals were reduced to two meals daily, even two pieces of meat reduced to one or no piece at all. There was a time during Christmas that we did not have the money to buy chicken. How time flies. But one thing I keep thanking God for is that He used my mum to save us and that we were living in our own house. She had a stable job even though it did not pay as much as dad and she took up the responsibilities like nothing really happened with only few adjustments here and there.
    I learnt a very good and hard lesson from that experience to always save no matter how much you were earning which my dad refused because he was a spendthrift and never believed that something terrible like that could happen. And always invest.
    I only fear that my dad does not die soon due worries and fears as he has still not recovered from that loss. And God lifted my family up again by blessing the children with great and stable jobs and other investments.

  34. aj

    May 14, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    omg! this piece resonated with me so well. at least yours is better…the decline of my family’s wealth started in the year 1997 with the death of my grandmother. We went from schooling in Green springs to some other primary school in Gbagada. Things were rough. if not for the fact that my mother gave birth to us in the us. idk what would have happened to us. to be honest I have still not adjusted well to the change. God help me!

    • Joke

      May 14, 2015 at 6:44 pm

      Yoruba: Oko emo le emo lo. LOL! When things changed in unstable Nigeria, you went to the place of your birth, the good old US of A. That’s why I tell people, 9aija is good, but it is too unstable. Never put all your eggs in the 9aija basket oh. Have something else going, somewhere else…

  35. jst me

    May 14, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    same here bro, i get d fln…u jst wonda wher al dose ur dad’s frnds dat usd2 party wt him went…thin air

  36. cee cee

    May 14, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    life has never been fair, this piece reminded me of my past, I lost my dad when I was 13 and mum when I was 17, life became hard. but I and my 3 brothers didn’t give up. my elder bros dropped off from school and became a conductor just to put food on the table and provide money for our school fees. I struggled to go to school, in my final year my younger brother got admitted into university too. I hustled all day in school selling okrika cloth and wrist watches. Today elder bros is married with a son, am a graduate working and also a millionaire, younger bros is still in his third year and my immediate brother is just a prodigal son of the family who we pray will come back to his senses one day, though i blamed his behavior on my mum coz he was the best to my mum and she pampered him alot. if u have not been there, u wont understand. I accommodate 2 friends in my small apartment, they have not tested hardship b4 in their life. their life is full of ego and they form to everybody as if they are the owner of the house, Their perception about life is different from mine, i don’t blame them, they are lucky. but what gives me joy is that today am independent and they are depending on me because of upbringing, there is a reason for everything. just keep your head up and never give up, though it might not be easy. but God will help us.

  37. Blackbeauty

    May 14, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Esco, God bless you for this article.

  38. Bellemoizelle

    May 14, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks Esco,this is so uplifting,Dropped out of secondary school,Picked myself up and went toUni,Thank God for Ushering Jobs to Holiday jobs,that kept me going.I have a friend who says to me that she likes my hustling spirit,Mine happened not bcos my Dad lost his job but bcos my parents got divorced and my dad felt it was my fault too and I was just 4 at that time! Imagine.I had suicidal thoughts when i was like 15/16 it was really tough,Its better now,My Mom mad sure I got everything depriving herself of a lot….
    Everyone has different Stories and I will say i thank God for the positive people that made a difference in my life.Enough said,Am still at work!
    La vie est belle!

  39. Ada

    May 14, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    This got me teary-eyed, more like me telling my story. So grateful to God for the strength he gave me and my family and for helping us pull through that period of our lives..

  40. Ade

    May 14, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    God bless you Esco. Shaded, it is well with you in Jesus Mighty Name-Amen. You both shall succeed in all good things in Jesus Mighty Name-Amen. God bless you both.

  41. Lea

    May 14, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    . I grew up very comfortable I remember every weekend we ate a buffet at Sheraton and had everything we wanted and then suddenly everything stopped I remember the day we packed our luggage in the rain to where we moved too. That place was not a house, but it was a place we could rest our head that’s where I lived. going through a lot my parents got a divorce, rats, leaking rain. One bathroom. I love my parents for everything they taught me when they were together and separated I hank God for he experiences I got to face. I respect my struggle. I live in America now and I do not take anything for granted. Give thanks friends for all you have.

  42. Mymind

    May 14, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Such a good read Esco!

    Like in every country, there are different realities in Nigeria that fall under two broad categories: POSITIVE (wealth that affords you above average lifestyle, vacation abroad, expensive private schools, and many more) & NEGATIVE, some of which this beautiful piece describes. There are poor people EVERYWHERE, but in Naija, many people suffer in this rich nation. No safety net. You are pretty much OYO if something bad happens – aka failed banks, bad investments, and oh if you are the only success story in your family and have the misfortune of losing it all, then God help you.

    If your reality in Nigeria is mostly positive, and your only complaints are similar to a bus conductor or a nanny, or pretty much anybody else’s – security issue, poor infrastructure etc., be thankful for what you have and careful to not judge others who do not share your reality. It is easy to judge and blame someone like Stephanie Samuel, the 24-year-old Nigerian migrant who gave birth on the Mediterranean, but the truth is you have NO IDEA what she has been through in the short 24 years of her life. Everyone in this world has an inherent set of instinctive behaviors, and when it comes to trying survive for basic necessities, you don’t know how you would respond if you were to walk a mile in her shoes. The quality of her decision-making or how well informed she was is not the issue; the myriad of issues Nigeria faces today is a big problem.

    Instead show compassion. When I say don’t judge, I also say that to those of you who visit Western nations: US, UK, Germany etc., with this very annoying “I’m better than you” attitude, or “me I can only live in Nigeria o” attitude. Many of us here are used to cultures where most wealthy people try to blend in with regular people, so that your snooty attitude is such a turn off, trust me. You don’t know anybody’s story and why they prefer to live in abroad: some of us are just as wealthy but place a much higher value on things like security, access to good health, good infrastructure etc. And for those among us who were not as fortunate with wealth back in Naija, some are doing extremely well abroad, holding positions in prestigious institutions, and starting profitable businesses. Even for the ones who struggle because they have paper issues, please don’t judge, because you may not even survive what some of them have been through. Everyone in this world deserves to live a happy, healthy, fulfilled life, but life can be shitty sometimes. If going back Nigeria to paint Nigerians abroad with a broad brush of cleaning toilets makes you feel good about yourself, then that and your low self-esteem issue is your problem. It takes nothing away from anybody’s life.

    We seriously need to change our attitude to that of love and compassion. Let’s stop celebrating ill-gotten wealth and begin to hold our government accountable while we are at it.

  43. Esco

    May 14, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing your stories, everyone. Its amazing to see how many of us have dealt with struggle in one shape or form, and it is beautiful to see the milk of human kindness in ordinary Nigerians who are offering to help a fellow reader procure the tools for her business. That is the Nigerian spirit, and BN has done well to foster a family atmosphere on a such a huge forum. We Nigerians are hardworking. We are resilient, we are strong, we are innovative. We will al make it, and pull our nation to greatness.

    Nigerians may have never walked the moon, but see how gracefully we prance the earth.

    One Love.

  44. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    May 14, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    I remember going from wearing “Bata” to buying ‘Shaba” sandals for school….

  45. tunmi

    May 14, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    We didn’t have a grass to grace or grace to grass story. We were and still are ajepako. But I can relate to the ‘grass’ stories. Waking up early in the morning to fetch water, living in a face me I face you, fetching water from the well, relying on street food, collecting rain water, etc. Those were my realities and I never for one considered it odd or suffering. It was just how we lived in Mushin. It’s interesting to see a different perspective. I am.glad for how I lived though. We never went hungry, for one. And it helped me build character.

  46. gee

    May 14, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    @Shaded, I really hope and pray you reply. I really hope so. I’m in this kind of situation too but nahhhhh, i’m not ready to talk. Please drop your email address. I might not have much but even if I could send you 3k or more
    , I would. Remember in all you do, keep HOPE alive. Sending you hugs from here. I teared up reading your comment. I would pray for you. *hugs again*

  47. mabrr

    May 14, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Esco, I am very widely read and have to give you your dues. This is the best write up I have ever read on Bella Naija. Your use of simile is out of this world. So imaginative and true to your country. I am inspired. Keep up the excellent work.

    I too am a child of parents who escaped the poverty cycle in their respective families. For years I have resented how much money, time and general resources are spent on those in the village. 29 years after my birth and there is no improvement in the lives of those my parents assist. How come? Has helping them enabled them to sit back on their laurels and wait for handouts? Would It kill them to use condoms so they don’t breed babies they can’t take care of? Don’t get me wrong, they are my extended family so I love them. However, with every passing year I harbour resentment towards them. My parents are almost pensioners and have spent their entire working lives supporting the whole clan. Why does this pain me? Because it has been to my parents detriment. They could be taking things easy or enjoying the fruits of investment, property etc but oh no. They gotta keep on working to support the clan.

    This will not be my portion in life. I categorically refuse.

    • gia

      May 15, 2015 at 10:25 am

      THIS!!!
      This is also so very common in my family!
      My mum has been suffering for years because of her siblings and none of them has done something to hel themselves!

  48. deb

    May 14, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    I av opened this post 100000000000000 times to get a feed back from shade or BN. BN pls help me out.

  49. deb

    May 14, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    *shaded

  50. Demash

    May 14, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Lovely write-up. I totally identify with this – Dad was a big boy in an oil-coy before things went pear shaped. He lost his job and we went from living in Lekki (this was the late 80s) to moving to Agege. Interestingly, it helped us strentgthen our faith and be more resilient. The boys were all down with not taking provisions to boarding school and eating 1-0-1 during holidays. I discovered Kotakowa in Ipaja for fairly used clothes and learnt how to cook Ugwu soup with barely 50 Naira then. We learnt contentment and GOD was faithful. 3 of the 5 boys got scholarships into the University and we all just about landed good jobs right after school. Relatives deserted us but Kudos has to go our mum, who stood by our Dad through the trying times and provided for the family when Dad was unable to work. One thing was clear though, it easier to go through things things if you have the right partner. Some partners desert their spouses in such times & sometimes I wish my wife understood what we went through, maybe she’d appreciate the camarederie that exists between us now…..

  51. Lady Cate of Nigeria

    May 14, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Wow! This brings back so many memories.
    My dad lost his job in a bank in 1996 and we moved from a duplex in Dolphin estate to a flat in Egbeda owned by my dad’s cousin so we didn’t have to pay rent.. We went from pumping machine to fetching water from the well or from our neighbours who were selling water. My brother was withdrawn from A.D.R.A.O school in V.I to St Gregory college. I remember seeing my mum use old clothing as sanitary towel because she didn’t have money for pad.
    Things were so bad but thank God for my mum’s civil servant job which ensured there was just enough food to eat. I remember disturbing my mum for some money one time and she asked me if she could give me all her salary and then I’d figure out how to share it on all our needs.
    My dad said he contemplated suicide twice, he had gotten the rope at some point to hang himself but the thought of my brother and I stopped him.
    Thank God things are a lot better now and we look back at our time in the wilderness as my dad calls it and we thank God. To all those going through tough times ‘These too shall pass’

  52. Strit Kredibility

    May 14, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Esco thank you for this wonderfully penned, engaging, witty, all-too-familiar super story-esque piece, reminiscent of our checkered childhood. As an 80s child myself my family did not escape the years of the locust too. In fact, i haven’t the liver to retell the story of that epoch. It was so dehumanizing that when we started making hay we still doubted the Lords doing. Like play like movie, we saw Nigeria fall so steeply and like a rolling stone, we couldn’t even gather any tangible moss. It was a very sad testament in the page of our growing up years.

    But thank God we survived, many families did not however, they were greatly fractured. The children damned the consequences and went ahustling. The boys amongst them learnt how to fire without aiming and the girls learnt how to fly without perching; the result is on A4 sheet for all to see. So many people just couldn’t come to terms with the new status, sudden hardship foisted on them, they carried the bitterness and desperation into the larger society and that explain to a large extent the dysfunction of the Nigerian state at present. Family is the bedrock of the society and if its not faring well at the microcosm of the family level, the society gets its big time.

    Nigeria and Nigerians, sadly have not learnt any lesson from that depressed period as they have left the pursuit for collective social protection and family well being in preference for self aggrandizement. Now it seems senseless acquisition, uneven wealth distribution, inchoate new money, distant government and oppressive fellow citizens have all joined forces to constitute a clog in the wheels of our collective dream of a just and equitable society. So what you now get is people forgetting where they are coming from and not knowing where they are heading to because of a few change in their financial and social status.

    SoDia4, Stories like these should remind us who we once were and underscore the fact that Nigeria for a large part of its past and present is still a Yo-Yo country without assurance, that is still grappling to find its foothold despite mammoth endowments in human and material terms.
    Esco and BN, thank you once again and continue to stimulate forum activity with your thoughts and posts, who knows somebody might need this interaction as a turning point as @shaded hopefully.

    @shaded. U remind me of that girl on my street years ago, with similar pain and burden, who single-handedly turned the fortunes of her family around by sheer determination, sacrifice and legit hustle. Bless you gurl. Keep on keeping on. I will follow this thread to see where we can come in for assistance.

  53. sylvia

    May 14, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Lorddddd…….. what a write up filled with memories that reduced me to tears.
    Fix it Jesus….

  54. patsychy

    May 14, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    I totally relate to ur story Esco.Never knew mum from birth.Dad remarried and sent I and my two sisters away as maids to our relatives.life was soo hard.schooling became very difficult for us.when I finished secondary school.took a job at a telecoms shop and worked to help my elder sisters in schooling bcos God was faithful in my finance.i entered university studying part time and working too.thank God my elder sisters are married with kids now.Dad died last year and de wicked stepmother is left all alone to raise her kids at leastto feel what we felt with nobody to help us.But truly God has been faithful changing our lives gradually. We will get dere.so friends……KEEP ON KEEPING ON.ITS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT.

  55. unknown

    May 15, 2015 at 12:10 am

    My God!! You guys on here are such strong people. You are definitely an inspiration.
    @esco thank you so much for this amazing write up, it’s comforting to know you aren’t alone
    @shaded please please leave an email address. I would most certainly love to contribute, however small

  56. tammy

    May 15, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Sigh…I remember how we all ate from one pot when the soup is almost finished, my dad was a superman. Our mum passed and he never remarried for fear of another woman maltreating his kids, last born was just 6 months old then. What didn’t I sell in tejuosho market? There was constant power those days so I always take ice water to the market to kiri, abi na bitter leaf or scent leaves? We had all sorts of plants in our backyard even to oha leaves, God has been truly faithful and it hurts my dad didn’t stay long enough to see me get my first job or buy my first car, chai it is well.

  57. shaded

    May 15, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Thanks everyone for your words of encouragement,it brought tears to my eyes, didn’t think anyone was goin to comment on what I posted, To everyone goin through similar fates, May we all find a breakthrough. Amen. [email protected]

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      May 15, 2015 at 10:31 am

      This is BN, Babe: Its how we roll!

  58. emeraldish

    May 15, 2015 at 8:49 am

    wow! this is so encouraging , God bless you

  59. Keem

    May 15, 2015 at 9:09 am

    @Esco, Thanks so much for this write up. I’ve followed your blog since 2010 or so, am glad more people are getting to read your write ups. Very interesting piece as usual.
    @Shaded, am an emerging designer with machines, but no enough tailors. Can we do something together, add real value to one another?

  60. shaded

    May 15, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Thanks everyone for your words of encouragement, it brought tears to my eyes, didn’t think anyone was going to comment on wat I posted, Thank you ,[email protected]

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      May 15, 2015 at 10:30 am

      This is BN, Babe; its how we roll!

  61. Just another girl

    May 15, 2015 at 10:55 am

    @Shaded and everyone going through a rough patch you are blessed and even more blessings are coming your way. To everyone who has offered to help may the good Lord flood your pockets with even more blessings. One thing I can add is that in addition to an academic education it is also very important to learn a trade even if just as a hobby because trust me those skills come in handy should one experience a rough patch in their lives. See Shaded now if she did not have tailoring skills what could have happened to her? At least that keeps them going. As long as there are paying customers and you are healthy you can always make ends meet turning to hairdressing, plumbing, carpentry, baking, etc I remember a post on Facebook once where this American guy who lost his job during the recession took up plumbing jobs which he had learnt from his dad a part time plumber who also learnt form his own father to make ends meet. So imagine if his dad was like no way my son is not learning any “menial” jobs let him just go to school what would have become of him? So parents academic education is important but if your children show a particular interest in a trade let them learn it even if just as a hobby. I really admire all those YouTube vloggers and bloggers who can do hair, sew clothes, bake on the side etc because if push comes to shove and there are willing paying customers they will never go hungry. These are girls that some Nigerians would refer to as ajebutter yet they sew their own clothes, make their own hair etc. I am also going through my own rough patch it has been a while but somehow my faith and resilience have kept me going I have never lacked. I have never known extreme wealth nor have I known extreme poverty but I have never lacked thanks to my resilience, hustler spirit and faith.

  62. chigurl

    May 15, 2015 at 11:15 am

    There is kindness in each and everyone.

  63. Abi

    May 15, 2015 at 11:17 am

    One thing that resonates in almost all the stories is:when the going got tough in the family,its the mother’s who held it down with their resources!
    Shout outs to all African Mother’s(the real and virtuous ones)!You are the definition of feminists not these ones….
    We love our mother’s!!!!

  64. Taona

    May 15, 2015 at 11:26 am

    kikkkk, i love this, reminds me of an era before feb 2009

  65. serene

    May 15, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes, and encouraged me. Our tough time will pass too and I’ll talk about it with a smile soon

  66. Koffie

    May 15, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    This write up took me on a journey; from amusement to a recollection of my own version of Esco’s story and that made me sober. You’re great writer Esco, shallah!
    I’ll probably be able to share mine after I’ve had breakthrough because the ones I can call memories are my share of my family’s setback but right now as a young adult, I’m going through mine. There is hope sha and one day, “it will end in praise”.
    And oh, God bless the mothers who didn’t run away in fear but manned up as breadwinners and great support system for their husband and kids. The BNer who said “it easier to deal with when you’re with the right partner” was very apt.
    May the Almighty bless the works of our hands and cause all hardworkers to walk before kings soon enough.

  67. Katia

    May 15, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    I know this feeling exactly, my family and I are going through this exact same thing. It makes you wonder if you are ever going to see light at the end of the tunnel, hope becomes opium keeping you occupied when it really doesn’t exist to you at this point in time. Everyday is a constant battle to survive and make ends meet, but all you can do is smile through suffering and pray for a miracle, because everything that’s happening is beyond you, there is nothing as painful as seeing your loved ones in pain and not being able to do anything about it. But in the mist of such, it builds your strength and resilience not to brag, but this hurdle i’m facing has moulded me into a stronger and wiser person who can take on anything. At the end of the day all you can do is struggle and pray for a breakthrough, because these tests will turn into testimonies one day By His Grace

  68. FLOW

    May 16, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Glad to know we have a very tight online family going on here, BN, thanks for providing this platform, and to you Esco, for reminding me and everyone else who you’ve inspired with this real and powerful write-up, it touched my very core, as I can totally relate with it, I say thank God for you, you are more than a movement, you have become a force to be reckoned with. At least some of you have tasted wealth, there are some of us who have always had it rough, no memories of “once having” only the hard times, but it hasn’t been all bad, if not, I wouldn’t be here typing this, somehow I’ve managed to get a degree, with all this hardship, abeg that is a major accomplishment. I’ve always known that I was created for a special purpose, and despite my background, I was born to be a queen, my story is still a work in progress, and by HIS grace HE WILL do a new thing for me, I have suffered too long, and deserve to be happy, and I know it won’t be long now before he changes my story completely forever! will probably write a book someday and “tell all”, but right now will focus on the big picture, which is to “eliminate all traces of poverty from my life”.

  69. chi

    May 16, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    U ve done a good job, I would not have done better. [email protected] your younger sister kpom kwem. I t is well

  70. minnie

    May 17, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Esco I can totally relate to the aspect of going into hiding when things are rough,Last year that was me.I was ashamed I was not in the situation I’m suppose to be.My life seemed stagnant,I hid from childhood friends and people that knew me,which led to one lie after another.Thank God this year am already building myself and trying to curb a lot of mistakes,and keep on striving putting myself out there no matter how small.#Timewaitsfornobody#

  71. E Do Me Like Film Trick

    May 17, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    Best BN article I have read, hands down! I have had my share of familly suffer head..ah! no be today story.
    One of my goals for 2014 was to save at least 1million Naira. As at August, I hadn’t even achieved 50% of that but right now, I have made about 40million Naira – totally legit and totally unexpected! And I am a female in my 20s! Forget story, no condition is permanent at all at all! I’ll say this though – whatever opportunity you find to work, do it with ALL your mind because your blessing fit dey inside there.

    @Shaded:
    You remind me of me at 21 -Totally dogged and ready to do 40k jobs very happily. God bless you. My heart goes out to you. If BN will allow, I’ll gladly assist you.

  72. Laoluwa

    May 18, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Oh, how am I just seeing this article? We had it rough growing up, oh how i hold my parents in high esteem cos they’ve been selfless in it all and i know God will repay them. I am the first of 3 children and my parents saw to it that we all got into the university. It was a tough ride, for days on end i wouldn’t even have food to eat because of lack of pocket money and any small money that got to my hand, I always put my brothers first and feed them. Fast forward to now, i happen to be doing my masters program and the enemy has struck again and it seems like another impoverished episode.
    As i type this, i just wrote my last exam and i don’t even know where next months rent is going to come for. I don’t even have money to take the bus. I am just here soaking up in my own tears. Thanks to good internet here, at least i get to read BN articles and still have hope.
    It doesn’t matter what you’re going through, There is help on the way. Sigh

  73. Ms M

    May 20, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    I can totally relate with this article and the stories shared here! Taken me back memory lane…. I am grateful for how far God had brought me and my family! Though my Dad did not leave to enjoy the fruit of the labour. But am sure he will be happy in heaven! I am not where I want to be yet, but I am sure better than where i used to be years back! For this, I am GRATEFUL!!!

  74. Cheryl

    May 28, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    That is a really good reality check type post when someone is going through tough times. Thank you for sharing. “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” Dr. Robert Schuller

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