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Geraldine Ogwe: Strangers That Became Friends

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I travelled to the Gambia for the first time in March 2013. I was on board Arik Airline. On my row, the other passengers were a woman and her kids. The little boy that sat next to me initiated a chat and the mother joined. When we found out we were all Igbos, the conversion became more interesting and we felt like family. They were going to Kololi Beach Club while I was going to Senegambia. I told the lady a friend from Kololi would pick me up at the airport. The said friend could assist her in getting to her hotel.
On arrival in Banjul, Arik Airline left the baggage of the majority of the passengers in Lagos, without prior announcement or apology. We only found out at the baggage carousel that our baggage was never on board. My new friends and I were affected. My hand luggage was my hand-bag containing my passport, my hotel booking print-out and cash.

The said friend I talked about, I had not met her in person. I only knew her as AJ. Our mutual friend gave me her number so she could show me around. When I told her of my predicament, she took me and my new friends to her home. She gave me her clothes to wear. AJ’s mother gave hers to the lady while AJ’s younger ones offered theirs to the lady’s children. AJ took care of us very well. AJ, the Muslim, even hosted an Easter party for us. Her mother, boyfriend, girlfriends and cousins were all in attendance. AJ was and is still an extraordinarily sweet human.

Some years back, I wanted to move to a new apartment. I entered a cab and I told the driver where I was headed to. We were chatting during the ride and he advised me against a particular location I wanted to move to. He told me the area was prone to flood. A few days after, I paid for another location. The driver, Chima, gave me his phone number the first day he drove me. Three days after, I called him that I had secured an accommodation and I needed to run a few errands with him. When my lunch period was over, I gave Chima some money to buy a big mattress for me and drop it at my new home. When I left him, I was scared he would run away with my money. When I came back home, lo and behold, my mattress was by the door. I was impressed. I thanked him. Chima has been of great help and assistance to me. Even when I bought a car, I still patronized him. Sometimes, he would drive me in my car. When I gave him money for any project, he executed without issues. My family members and friends knew and loved him. When I had issues with my generator, it was Chima that would take it to the technician. Chima took care of all my way-bills. No matter the errand, he would always do it cheerfully. He always appreciated any gift I gave him. When I didn’t give both material and monetary gifts, he would still be friendly. I was happy the day he introduced me to the wife and kids. I have relocated out of that town but we still keep in touch. Whenever I came into town, I either use my company’s driver or Chima.

I met Israel during my MSc days. The first time we spoke was during an argument. We settled and became friends. It was a full time program but my job didn’t allow me pay 100% attention. When I wanted to abandon the program, he was always there to encourage me. He would say, “We started this together so we must finish together”. Israel was my Voltron. When he wanted to get married, I asked him what I could do for him. He said he wanted me to be the MC. I laughed and asked why. He said he wanted to see me actively involved in his wedding. I had never been an MC before, even in a children’s party. I accepted and everything went fine. The wife didn’t understand our friendship initially but she has come to realize that this is true friendship.

Could I ever forget Prof V. Asor! I met him in his colleague’s office when I was in my final year in the university. We hung out severally. He later introduced me to his family members. I introduced him to mine. Before my mother passed away, he would visit her at the hospital each day with a priest. When she died, he invited several of his friends in Shell (where he worked) and they graced the burial occasion. Prof became so close to the family that he was the chairman of the occasion for two of my siblings’ wedding ceremonies. His wife who is a gynaecologist is my sisters’ doctor. She assisted in the birth of my niece.

My boss is someone I respect. There was a time I would have lost my job to nepotism. It was he who re-assigned me to a place where my potentials were maximized. I was just an ordinary marketing officer in the company. An issue arose and he moved me to the Human Resources department, where I became the Relationship Manager. When pressures were too much, I told him I wanted to resign. He replied, “If you always resigned because of pressure, you may never hold any significant job in life”. From being the boss, he became my friend. I discussed both official and non-official matters with him. He was always available to support and to guide. He brought out my strengths and suppressed my weaknesses. I always strived to be a better person, colleague and employee because my progress reports gave him joy.

The last stranger that became friend was Pastor David Odi. I was invited to his church. I loved his ministration and I continued to attend church services there. The church is a small church. You could easily notice who was present or absent. Any church service I missed, he would call to check up on me. When I suffered financial crisis, it was he who came to my rescue. I never called him to ask anything. He sent a text that read “send me your account details”. He encouraged and prayed for me more than any pastor had ever done. I thought I was a special candidate until I heard others testify of his love and kindness to their families. He is not only a pastor but a shepherd that cares for his flock.

Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity. – Khalil Gibran.
True love is rare but true friendship is rarer. No matter the tribe, background, religion or occupation, when you find a true friend, value the friendship. Be a true friend. If true friendship exists, there will be less strife and more peace and progress in the world.

Before we share the cupcakes, I would like to know how some of the strangers you met became your friends and how they have influenced your life.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang)

13 Comments

  1. Puzzles

    November 20, 2015 at 7:55 am

    E.C is someone that comes to mind. I had just got admission into the university. He was in 400 level and took me under his wings. People thought he just wanted to take advantage of a Jambite and I received several warnings but he never took advantage of me in anyway. In fact, he was a big brother to me. Although it lasted for just a semester because he had to go for his IT and subsequently graduated, I would never forget that beautiful jovial person.

    Others are J.A, T.O, K.O, T.U, F.A, and A.A

  2. Eny

    November 20, 2015 at 8:21 am

    I’ve been blessed in life by meeting so many wonderful human beings. Friendships have become the core of my being. I’ve often wondered how many days it would take if i were ever to sit down and mention those who’ve influenced me in both little and large ways. Well, here goes…

    1. My hairdresser who has become highly recommended by me. Who does everything effortlessly, whole-heartedly and with a smile. Who has become a go-to for my friends and siblings wedding hair, offering full day services and sometimes becoming an on-the-day personal assistant by the way. Who calls whenever she doesn’t see me in a month despite having a full client base. Lots of love Uju.

    2. Family tailor, family mechanic, family generator-service man, family customized card maker, family souvenir branding man, family plumber… This category is a big one cos these are not one-off guys. These are service providers who have offered exceptional services in some cases for more than 10 years. Who businesses have grown much bigger than what it was when we started yet treat every customer as priority. Who started with parents and then extended their helping hands to the children. Who by length of time have become Uncle and Aunty. God bless them all!

    3. I have enjoyed a good working relationship. When you spend half of your time at work, it matters. But more importantly, for bosses who became friends and opened up doors of opportunities for me. Even though i may have been bad at keeping in touch, Folami, Seun… God bless!

    4, For the friend who gave me the funds to print my very first pack of complimentary cards. I can never forget. God bless!

    I’ll stop here for now.

  3. Anonymous

    November 20, 2015 at 8:51 am

    I wish I could make friends that easily. I really admire the people who can.

    • AHausaChickInToronto

      November 20, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      Me too oh…..Maybe you and I should be friends lool. I’m a very good friend to have at the time point we’re still together but I realized my problem is that I’m terrible at keeping in touch (even when we’re in close areas I.e. Working in the same office or going to the same school, I’m still terrible at Calling and texting) and I’m sure that is what makes people give up…. Sigh

  4. mia

    November 20, 2015 at 8:54 am

    I got a transfer after my wedding and i moved to a new town already pregnant. I could not drive and i was always generally tired. One of my colleagues introduced me to another colleague who stays around my area. SO would come pick me in front of my gate and drop me off after work. He would drive me around town even during weekends and he generally cared for my family. Anytime i needed male help when hubby is not in town, he is my go to person and he does it not asking for anything but friendship. Even this last week, he picked me from the airport, realised i was tired and he bought me Chinese to cool off. He’s such a sweet soul.

    I met Toyin and Funmi online when I wanted to have my baby in the US. They had gone to have thiers earlier and we were to stay in the same motel. When I got there, they took me in, fed me, gave me their phones to call my folks and generally helped me to settle in. it’s more than a year now and we have remained friends.

    I met a friend too during a job interview, i got the job but she didn’t but we have remained friends ever since. One can really find love in strange places.

  5. JADE

    November 20, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I went for GCE lessons after writing WAEC and i hated my mother for forcing me to do it, but I met my best friend there and that was 2003, she taught me the meaning of true friendship. Even at my worst she never gives up on me. She really is my kindred spirit and I love her to the moon and back!

  6. Princess Pa

    November 20, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I love this writeup so much
    I can’t list all but the most recent stranger that became a friend, i met last week. I had a party to attend in abj and somehow didn’t have somewhere to stay that would be close to the venue. A mutual friend talked to her and she agreed to house me. She was so warm, cooked for me, took me out and was just so keen on me having a good and fun time that weekend.

  7. Lisa

    November 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Friendship is beautiful, its more amazing when a total stranger becomes a friend. True friendship is earned. money cannot buy it. Nice one Geraldine

  8. Nammy

    November 20, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    I met blessing in a bus while I was travelling for my youth service, got to know that she was also going to camp the next day. We exchanged numbers when we arrived at our destination, I got to camp a day before her and settled in, when she came she couldn’t finish her registration so she didn’t have a place to sleep, we both shared my six spring bed, throughout my stay in camp we used Her provisions cos I didn’t come with any, played pranks on soldiers together, dodged parade, formed illness etc. we now stay in different towns but still keep in touch

  9. Esemeje

    November 20, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Ok! i read all these wonderful stories and i have tears in my eyes…
    #justwonderingwhy

  10. The real D

    November 20, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I am a 99% introvert, so saying that means i am not one to meet another a strike a conversation but that also means i am extremely loyal to the very few i call friends. Friendship is indeed one of God’s greatest gifts to us humans. The ability to connect to another individual is indeed amazing. That being said i don’t have any touching story about how i met anyone mine as always progressed with time.

  11. waiting with nkem

    November 21, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    This is the most beautiful piece I’ve read in a while. In a world filled with so much evil and bad news, this write-up reminds me that there are still good people in the world. God has really blessed me through people I never expected, and I pray that He uses me to bless others too.

  12. blessyn

    November 21, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Though am an introvert. God has been good to me by linking me up with strangers who have loved and cared for me. my encounter are so numerous. I moved into a new city for my Msc. got into school late and did not have accommodation. While on the lookout a man just appeared from nowhere while i was asking a lady to show me my department. And that is how the man drove me to met the landlady in my present house. Initially i was scared about the idea of having a landlady but she has been so good to me, cooks for me, gives me some stuff for winter. Am just grateful to God.
    Also met another Nigerian woman at the bank, and she invited me to her house for lunch, we are still in touch and she advises me most of the time.
    Met some senior colleagues who have devoted their time to proof read my coursework and advise me generally.
    Again, met a lady through a friend of mine whom i stayed a week with before getting my place and she is my very good friend now.

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