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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The swimmers against the tide (story two)

Once there was a man, wiry, bright eyed, great smile and a voracious appetite for stories, he was a lecturer at the University of Jos, Once there was a girl, tall, slim, wild haired, bright eyed, earnest but mischievous, she was a TV reporter and producer. They met on the campus of the university, she restless and questing, he, calm and giving. It was suppose to be a pre interview but the stories were so compelling, she began to roll the tape immediately. I was she, altered in some ways, same in others, he is dead. So is the hero of my story, there was only one witness, she too may be dead but l hope she isn't, like me she may be altered but she is alive only because of HENRY TIESSER TIOHR.

It was his final year and he needed to prepare for the forthcoming exams so he travelled home in Benue to visit his mother and get some money. It happened on the way back on that long winding Jos Akwanga road which curls through a landscape of such grand beauty your senses are lulled into peace. A 22-seater bus, an impatient driver and a long trailer standing in the path of higher profit. It's a narrow road and the driver could not see beyond the tail of the trailer but he figures he can risk it once out of a particular deep curve on the road. The driver tailgates the trailer and overtakes him, there is an oncoming vehicle, he swerves off the road and the vehicle skids out of control, exploding in a ball of fire ignited by the ever-present jerry can of petrol in the bus. A week later, a middle aged woman wails at the male out patient ward of the teaching hospital in Jos, she is joined by relatives and passers-by who mourn the loss of her son with her. Suddenly a young woman from the female ward breaks through the crowd to ask who had died, she was told it was Henry who had been in a car accident a week earlier and suffered 3rd degree burns. The young woman begins to cry solemnly and she it was who told the story below which was then told to me by the story man of Unijos.

She told of how it was that Henry had been sitting in the drivers' cabin as a passenger and thus got out of the burning bus unscathed. She was trapped at the back of the bus and crying in agony for help. No one dared come near the bus as the other passengers were dead anyway.We would never know why he did it but Henry went back into the inferno and brought her out of the bus, they were both burnt and passed out by the road. They were taken to the hospital and she had hoped to get well enough to come over to the male ward to thank him only to hear this.

The story man told of how he and others had visited Henry on his sick bed and how he had told them about the first part of the story. Only he never mentioned the fact that he had come out safe only to return to save a complete stranger.Even after all these years I can still hear the perplexion in the story man's voice as he pondered on that riddle, why did he not tell anyone? Why did he not boast about his bravery, his manliness, and his feat?

As he rounded up his story, the story man sighed and said; "but it is just like Henry, he would not have thought it special, believing that it is the only normal human thing to do. Try to save another even at the risk of your own life".

The story man died young and the wild haired girl documented the story. When it ran on NTA Jos, the young lady did get in touch, she had got married, won a visa lottery and was headed for America. I would like to meet her again; perhaps in the fabric of her life I will find answer to why Henry had to die so she may live.

Today l write from memory, I am not even sure who has the master to the HEROES series l did on TV between 1995 and 1997 but l never forgot Henry Tiesser Tiohr and of the over one hundred extraordinary Nigerians I unearthed during that series he stands tall, forever young and beautiful in my memory.

Thanks everyone for the concern during my time out, I am burdened with a mind mightier than my physicality thus this bouts of illness but as my yeye brother Mighty says "àjé no go die unless tό bá darúgbó" (hint, KWAM 1), no clue? Where is your street cred? Ok, try this; "winch no die winch no rotten☺"


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that you're back!!!

I know the KWAM1 quote, the song, even where I was when I first heard the song. So aunty Funmi you listen to KWAM1 as well. Real omo naija!!!!!

It's good to hear that you're OK!!!!

Iyaeto said...

Aje welcome back !Pele but don't over do things o.Nice piece.

bhookey said...


Sherri said...

good to hear u're feeling better.
i was just going to ask how u cope, i know ur affliction cos i'm striken with same, i find myself getting physically and emotionally sickened by the "ills" of our world.
my peers chide me for not "living it up" u see, i can't justify spending thousand of dollars on a bag or other articles of clothing,even tho i can afford to, fully knowing what that kind of money can do in the right hands.
this affliction has been an impediment to my "settling down"
one mentor said activism should be energizing not draining.
am i doing it wrong?

sorry to burden u more, hope to return the favor someday.

Anonymous said...

Hello Funmi
Just wanted to say GOOD JOB with your blog. I started reading it recently since I don't get to watch your show. I live in the US and do not have NTA but that won't help either since your show is on AIT right? Anyway .... I was interested in sending some money to the orphanage you wrote about and would like to know how one can get into raising money for some of these orphanages and what i can do from here? So please let me know.

I was in school with Makin so please tell him 'mom' says hi. I loved your piece on the restarants. I guess you can get away with that kind of 'research' with your figure!! Look us up if you are in the DC metro area!!

God Bless you
check ur email. i sent u email

aYomide said...

hello Funmi,

nice to 'see' u back..
can u give me the number of the woman in charge of that orphange?..or the address?..i may be able to work with her...currently i am in d UK..graduating in the health and social care field...

uknaija said...

Wow, this is moving. We need to celebrate our heroes- thanks for this, Funmi

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous! You can watch the highlights of the show @ http://youtube.com/newdawnvideos

Anonymous said...

Wow! thank you soooooo much for the youtube weblink.

I had no idea there were clips available.

I was able to see my own mother on the show .... and she did not tell me she was on the show. Her grandaughters were too tripped to see that.

MissO said...

So glad to hear u are better, this story is so touching, I love the Kwan 1 infect. Its is good to always keep it real,,,, lol welcome back and take it easy. Its well in God's name..

Chinedu said...

Funmi, I am so inspired by you and your stories. You write exceptionally beautifully. God bless you

CATWALQ a.k.a LAGBA-JESS said...

"but it is just like Henry, he would not have thought it special, believing that it is the only normal human thing to do. Try to save another even at the risk of your own life".

I am not sure many people hold this creed dear anymore. The struggle for survival and self preservation has led to a selfishness where we victimize each other. many people must have seen the bus burning but only one dared to return...

thanks for this story in addition to many other. You are my hero sha.

Anonymous said...

nice post.keep up the good work.

funmi said...

@ all, thanks folk,
l be naija gal o. l get classic Obey Sunny, Fela, kwam 1, ayinla kollington, ayinde barister, ayinla omowura, victor uwaifo,dauda epo akara, et al on my ipod along with all the new kids and comedy classics like baba sala's de director and Gbega Adeboye on tape.

@ayomide, anonymous and others, For margeret's no pls send a text to 08055001930, seki will give you her no.

@sherri, mai sista, no kill youself o, l know exactly what you mean though and it is a hard struggle to balance it all. Your mentor is right though, it shuld be energizing perhaps you need to apply differnt strategies and perhaps work with other people /groups. Also dont take yourself or life so seriously that you dont allow yourself the odd "chocolates" of life if you catch my drift. Tip, recognize that it is egotisical to imagine that you are going to be the one to do it all, it could even be an emotional denial of things you need to take care of in your own life, l've been there you see. a lack of trust in the unverse to take care of you camoflaged under the guise to do good by others. You deserve to be well and you do more when you are well. Also choose your battles and define the corners of existence that you want to construct. Finally find great cheerleaders for whom you will be same too, one of them might be the settling down type;-). You can send me an email to talk you know and l can show you how to live it up guilt free and with minimum fuss or expense, money is so over rated.

@anonymous 1.29, gal, l saw your mail and l asked that my office give you my personal email address. l've been expecting your email. l forwarded yours to makin immediately and he called back. If you are who l think you are, abeg meshionu bo, you of the fabulous beauty crown winning body:-)? Will expect your email.

@catwalq, you know l look forward to meeting you one day dont you? Saw your no yesterday, wanted to dial but thought no, not time. tits up babe!