OpEd, Politics

We, the forgotten, praying yet for another day [2]

There was this woman, I don’t know her name but what I know about her is that she is a very hard-working woman. Her work is one of the hardest ever, often with little or no pay at all. She is a street sweeper.

The government doesn’t pay the civil servants let alone road sweepers. The money that was meant to be for roads ended up being used for buying expensive cars.

There is this guy, he is a shoe shiner. Each day, he counts his little earnings and his days too; you don’t live long enough in this place. Each day is a gift from God. The larger part of this land lives below the poverty line. But just opposite this poor neighborhoods, live some of the land’s richest people.

There are not many people but the land’s resources are not enough for them. They need more and in the quest for resources, they leave thousands of the poor dead or even in much abject poverty. Just within the days I spent in this land, I have come to realize that some people are rich here because others are poor.

I saw this young man. It was not in real life but in a dream. He is the son of a government official. You want to know what a good life is about and you will find it in him. If you still doubt that this land is independent, this young man will explain it better. He leads a life that most of the poor dream of. He is a multimillionaire and he has no business. His daddy, who happened to be one of the people who have milked the land dry, owns hectares of land, and houses abroad.

Money is not his problem, he has bags of it and his bank account has never for one reason or two been unhappy. In fact, he prints money and when he is happy, he gives out cars of V ‘8s to his socialite friends. His son has just invested more $700,000 in his new home abroad. Despite this richness, these people also happened to hail from one of the poorest villages in the region.

In their village, life has no meaning. There are no schools and hospitals there, the only school there is one but pupils learn under trees. Sometimes they are beaten by rain and that is the only time you will look in their eyes and you don’t see tears. The days are always long in this village.

I came to this place and I saw another part of life. I began to shake. It was never easy. Let me introduce you to this little family. There are only three in the house and you know what, the house is made of mud and grass.

Don’t blame me if I fail to describe how it leaks when it rains. This is not the biggest problem. They had a saucepan on fire now. This is the third time they had a meal in a week. The sauce was some leaf from a tree. I asked if this was edible and they told me that in times as bad as these, anything that will keep you alive is edible. Sometimes, some tree leaves are toxic and they cause complications.

A few days ago, on arrival. We got some people bidding a painful goodbye to their only son. This boy was about 15 years old but he looked like a 27-old man. At the age of 15, he started developing wrinkles on his face. It wasn’t his own making. It was life and the responsibilities on his shoulders. This boy died after eating a poisonous wild fruit but the leading factor was the lack of hospitals in the area.

My days in this village were very stressful. I wanted to go back but was not sure about where I was going. I left home running away too. I didn’t know what to do. I decided to just move around the village and I saw another episode of my adventure. A young girl was hanging by the rope, dead and the whole village was gathered at the scene crying.

I asked a young man whose hands were on his head. He had yellow teeth and even worse, two of his upper teeth were missing. I don’t know what caused that. He told me that the young lady was forced against her wish to marry an old man and when she refused, she was threatened by the brothers to do it or she would lose her life.

The reasons for hanging herself were still not yet known but a letter written by her was later found in the room. It was a very painful one but the English was very poor. It was very hard to read. How can we blame her, she was not in school. There was a boy in the village that was called to read the letter. This boy is half-educated. He does not know how to read or write but because he was sent to the city to study, the whole village has a belief in him.

Some years ago, his father sold his cows and sent this boy to school but the boy came back home with a cow’s head after spending all his dad’s money on women and goodies of life. Don’t let me forget the letter of the young lady. It left me with tears in my eyes. I went forward and translated it into a good language. This is how it reads;

“Dear Daddy, I am happy for always struggling for us. I have always seen you hide your tears. You are a great man who never wears his problems on his face. I have always been thinking of how to pay you back. I have thought of school as the only way to pay you back.

Now you want to marry me off, against my own wish, to a man who is three times my age. I know you want cows, to change your status in your community, to be respected but I am sorry Daddy that I will not do what you want.

I want to run away, to a far land, beyond the skies to meet peace. Up there, I hope to find a new home where I will go to school and meet the man I want and live happily with my children. I am sorry for having been a roadblock to your wealthy life. Forgive me, this road that I am taking is painful, much more painful than you think. The rope will cut my throat and choke me to death. This is the punishment for disobeying you. I am sorry.

When this letter was read, everyone was touched except the old man who had wanted to marry the young lady. He had hundreds of heads of cattle. These cattle were stolen from the neighbouring village. This young lady who had just killed herself if she had accepted would have been the 7th wife to a 70-year-old man. That day, my stress was high and I could hardly eat. I wanted to go to the hospital but there was none. I just woke up and realized it was all a dream.


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