There’s a moment of decision in every man’s life.
Like the man in the trunk of that Bakkie truck, being shipped back home to Nigeria from South Africa.
He and some of his other colleagues called out to us.
“Mzansi for life! Mzansi for life!” they yelled.
Distracting us from our purpose at the high commission, the Bakkie rode on, “Home Affairs” boldly printed on its side.
Some of our people were definitely returning home whether they liked it or not.
We had converged a few streets off Orient at a restaurant called “Home Base”, where polished wooden floor and wall-hung art of heroes and heritage greeted visitors.
Home Base is the watering hole for Nigerian meals and a good chit chat. There, we got white t-shirts with ‘Nigerian Lives Matter’ (NLM) emblems boldly printed on the left breasts.
At the back, right on the waistline was a hashtag driving home the declarations.
The Police were early, and I panicked, afraid of being harassed as that has become their trademark for Nigerians particularly.
“They are here to protect us,” someone said.
“Really?” I asked.
I calmed my fears as we embarked on our walk to the Nigerian Embassy.
We had our trumpeter, the police escort and someone with the Megaphone.
As we arrived the Embassy, we were greeted by a small crowd. A few people had joined our procession along the way.
We could feel the stares of the South Africans on our backs. They heard us clamouring for exactly what their government was giving to them.
Perhaps, it sounded strange to the South Africans that the most populous African Nation is still struggling with unemployment, bad roads, and electricity. We’ll never know what they were thinking as we arrived the Embassy chanting “Solidarity Forever.”
Prince Debo Adeshina, founder of Nigerian Lives Matter addressed the crowd.
He talked about the gross disregard for constitutional process as currently witnessed in the case of the Chief Justice of Nigeria. He also talked about insecurity of lives in and outside Nigeria, among others.
Prince Adeshina, his height looming, dark skin blazing, an emblem of his Osun, Ikirun roots. His words struck a chord that brought the crowd to a listening stillness. As he spoke, he reminded us of home, and how the Nigerian child in South Africa must someday have a nation to call home.
Mr. Adama Bako, the High Commissioner and an entourage from the embassy emerged after a few minutes.
His calm demeanour spoke of someone who had come to dialogue on behalf of his principal.
The march to the embassy had been peaceful and without incident, so there was no reason for fear or tension.
The High Commissioner received the memorandum presented by Prince Debo Adeshina. His responses were succinct and properly articulated, one of the few signs that there’s still some part of our government manned by humans who are willing to listen and dialogue with the electorate.
With regards to the ousting of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, the High Commissioner reassured NLM that the case was presently being pursued via the courts, and every party including the Presidency was willing to accept its outcome.
Despite how hard this was to believe, given the lack of faith many have in the present administration, we had to accept this response as a first step towards pursuing our rights to democracy.
In the midst of this dialogue, driving by and shouting ecstatically were illegally migrant Nigerians in the Bakkie; a shame to our community and blight to the democracy promised by several administration, including the present one.
Nigeria’s elections are in a few days and it’s definitely going to be a time for decisions. Fence-sitting might not be an option. We all should participate, whatever way we can!
I’ll definitely enjoy documenting my experiences of these times as events unfold for all of us. There’s a lot of reasons to pick sides and join the pursuit for political positions. However, there are various ways to be part of the fight for a better Nigeria asides party politics. I interviewed Prince Debo Adeshina in the video below as we talked about diaspora voting: