For Joel, Chisom and Esther Okwuchukwu By Adeolu Ademoyo

As dawn breaks, in the innermost chambers of most homes–the African, the American, the Latino, the European, the Asian, just name it, we all rise to kiddies’ calls. The Muslim, Christian, atheist, theist, agnostic; we all as parents prepare our daily worship at the door step of the future of our children each time the sun wakes up and peeps from its deep slumber.

Morning prayers, songs of praise, songs and words of inspiration for our children, that tomorrow will be better in spite of all the adversities and oddities of today, all start the daily worship. Uniforms, books, book bags and then the gentle routine check: “Did you clean your shoes yesterday, are your school uniforms clean enough?”  Then the tearful voice of the creaking and closing door and Papa or Mama will holler smilingly but firmly “are you all ready to go.” These happen every morning as we send these children into the world to start their journey of self-discovery. Joel, Chisom, and Esther Okwuchukwu were among those kiddies mom sent to the world that sunny but mournful DANA air crash day in Lagos, Nigeria 

On that fateful day as they shambled, trudged and waffled around Nigeria’s latest badge of shame in Iju Ishaga, Lagos no one knew who they were. Between the wailing and crying; gloom and doom; something stood them out-their non-rage and age, their youthful, innocent wisdom and love for their parents. It was as if they were made of steel in an environment that reeled in human anguish, pain, desolation, headless bodies, body less heads, and waist less tummies.   They could not wail for they were frail. They looked lost but hopeful amidst the din of somber and mournful shrill and chill of pain, sadness and anger.  Given their ages they had no rage in them-but perhaps they were too shocked to be rocked by the latest shame our dubious, murderous and evil ruling elite has again written our history in.

Hopeful? Yes they were because Joel the eldest pointed glumly but assuredly to our ruling elite’s most recent site of shame “my mommy will come out, we just left her now, she sent us on an errand…” Then Joel tapped Chisom and Esther, “Let us go… mom will come out… she will…” as they ambled around. Will she? Yes she will.

I relate to this as a parent, the care giver, the love and affection giver, the children counselor, the food finder, the children’s driver to school and playgrounds, the book buyer, the wiper of cries from our children’s faces, the inspirer that tomorrow will be great in spite of today’s adversities and challenges for Joel, Chisom and Esther Okwuchukwu are my children and your children, those we live for because our parents lived and live for us.  So yes, Joel my son,  “ mom will come out … she will…”

Unknown to Joel Okwuchukwu, mom may not come for Joel does not know DANA airline. He knows those metal birds that make noise every time across the skyline of their modest home in Iju Ishaga, Lagos, but Joel does not know that on that day one of those birds was actually a DANA flying metal coffin. He does not know how DANA airline put a flying coffin into the sky to fly living humans including mom and dad to untimely eternity.

There are so many things Joel Okwuchukwu does not know because it is not his call. His call is to read his books and become a doctor, Engineer, lawyer, Professor, Nobel Prize winning scientist and oh yes become our head of state to help us clean this Augean stable, this corruption in Abuja that is killing us. That is all Joel, Chisom, and Esther Okwuchukwu ought to know and ought to be. That is why I sent them to school. That is why you sent them to school. That is why we ride Okada, sell tomato in the market, teach, jump in and out of those crying, creaking and tearful buses on our way to work, vend papers, gird our loins to send them to school. For now they are not supposed to anticipate the flying coffins our ruling elites put in the air to kill us, they are just supposed to READ and be the BEST in the world.

So Joel Okwuchukwu does not know that mom may not come back. He does not know that the Akwa Ibom state governor Mr. Godswill Akpabio had anticipated this. Joel does not know that DANA airline is a metaphor for what our ruling group through their corruption has turned our dear country to. Joel does not know that Mr. Akpabio has written to DANA to stop putting flying metal coffins in the air in the name of dubious and evil profit. Joel does not know that somebody somewhere in a government ministry called Ministry of Aviation exist to prevent this pogrom. Joel does not know that someone in the Nigerian Civil Aviation authority is supposed to give authority to planes that must fly-that this person who must have a name has the authority to prevent a coffin from flying.

So how can Joel know that mom has left eternally because our ruling elites posted death to her? To those who say: this is too much, that we should wait, and that we should not judge, I ask bluntly: who certified that DANA plane fit to fly and why? That person has a name and a face. Please kindly tell me, tell Joel, tell Chisom, tell Esther who that fellow is.

At the site of shame, the sun came down gradually, weariness is setting in, and the feet are getting heavy. Things are slowing down. No food, no water, no welcome –how-is-school-today for Joel, Chisom and Esther for mom has not come.  Still no one knows who they are for no one knows who anyone is for we are all in a babel of mourning and still voices. Everyone was wailing and waiting for Godot-that human symbol of eternal wait, human absurdity, and hopelessness, of anomie, of human orphanage.

But while we are all waiting for Godot -for a fact and truth that we know, for a fact and truth that we know will soon be buried and interred by the same ruling elite who posted coffin in the air, for we know who certified the DANA plane fit to fly, this is my question to Nigerian ruling elites in corridors of power in Abuja and in the industry: why did you certify a coffin to fly in our air? Why did you send a flying coffin to Joel’s mom? Why did you turn Joel, Chisom and Esther to orphans? Why did you kill moms and dads?

This is for Joel, Chisom, Esther Okwuchukwu and other Nigerian children who the Nigerian ruling elites cheat everyday. This is so that this cheating of our children will stop and Nigerian children will be able to live normal lives like children in other parts of the world. To us parents who are left behind after Joel mom’s eternal departure, I say do not let her die in vain, do not let those dads, moms, uncles, aunts, children who the DANA plane sent to their graves die in vain, stand up for all Joels, Chisoms and Esthers and let us clean this Augean stable. Those who do not stand for something, will stand for anything and we will fall for nothing.

Adeolu Ademoyo, aaa54@cornell.edu, is of the  Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

 


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