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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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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Inevitability of Hope

I wrote the piece below two months ago as part of a series I am working on. Seeing the mood of most on a day like this i thought it may be appropriate to share it.....

I could tell you many stories but maybe just the one will do. Three months ago I started filming a conversation series around Nigeria, I was sick and tired of the deafening noise of the voiceless in my head and was determined to give them voice. When we arrived at this forgotten community, area boys descended on us and threatened to beat us, kidnap the foreign crew, destroy our equipments or worse. I was less fearful than dejected and in my anger I confronted them completely taken aback that they did not seem to care that it was I, the aunty Funmi of the youth, the people’s champion, I believe my own bull, you see. We eventually calmed them down and I asked to use their toilet. As I walked through the narrow passage of the face me I face you shack, l had no premonition of what I was to be confronted with now and all day. The toilet was an exact replica of the slum dog millionaire shit scene without the beautiful colouring and diffusion of rough edges of that film. I peed mater of factly and lead my crew through the maze of homes lying as it were on a refuse dump sort of like a strange rotting carcass. We climbed the stilts and descend into the canoe that took us into the community of these people who live exclusively on water.

Now let me tell you about the water, it is the blackest, dankest, oiliest, smelliest water I ever felt in my life, yes felt, as it was so wrong it had a fetid life of its own which envelops you. There were large and small pieces of faeces, other wastes and the ubiquitous pure water bags flowing calming by as Dami my canoe man paddle sliced through it all. It was like some witch’s broth from a Dickensian tale, only worse because here you can smell it and once in a while you might taste it as bits fall off the paddle unto your skin. We spent the entire day filming, all sense revolting then numbed. This place has no electricity, no water, no hospitals, no toilets, nothing but the people had found a way to live a normal life of sorts. They trade on the water, run barbers shops, an alternative health clinic and salons with little generators all on the water, the only way of getting around is by canoe and there is no soil. The drinking water is piped through a hole dug into the shallow end of the water through pipes that are sometimes broken letting in the brackish water. The highest source of death is cholera and malaria.

In all of these you wonder how can this be, how can we have done this to our people and how do they remain human? However, slowly through the day as I interviewed them and collected their stories of triumphs and failures, fears and measured success, I saw their strength and our human commonality. There were many outstanding stories and many, far too many sad ones. But there is one really amazing one. A one-story building houses the four classrooms that serves the whole community, it was built by some “oyinbo” volunteers I was told. There are no seats, no tables, no books, and no teachers for the 130 children who are ferried there free by the community daily. No teachers but for two young boys, secondary school leavers who can barely speak English themselves. They volunteer everyday to teach the children who speak only Egun; they are unpaid, their own future uncertain. I even suspect they moonlight as area boys some times but the other thing I have noticed is how all the area boys have slowly shed their aggression on seeing our good intention. I saw these aggressors transform into the confused and sidelined youth they really are and I saw them, as they could have been if we did not have all those decades of ruinous leaders, how they maybe still could be.


Most importantly I was humbled by those two boys who everyday teach the children without pay, they are almost children themselves and will probably not live to be 40 but in the midst of all the lack, they stood up to be counted. It is because of people like these that I keep going. I recognise my destiny to tell these stories and give the people voice as I recognize that the beauty of Nigeria is you always turn that dark corner and find something unexpectedly special. Perhaps it is foolhardiness or even a desperate attempt at finding hope but I somehow somewhere deep inside think or should I say hope that Nigeria will herself turn around this dark corner one day and find blinding light.

Post note
Change A Life is currently working with the appropriate government agencies to do reward these young teachers and do something about the school itself. Send me an email if you’d like to be part of it.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is truly inspiring,i agree with you funmi that it captures the mood of the day,a lot of us are sitting on our bums and blaming our leaders for our "failed nation".when all we need to do is emulate this young men and endeavour to make a change,where a change is needed......'our immediate enviroment"...Olusegun Ajala

muyiwa said...

this is touching

36 INCHES OF BROWN LEGS said...

sisi mi, ive told u this before u inspire me!! may God continue to bless u as u keep doing this... im always here to help.

Omuluzua said...

Wow!heart wrenching.... no wonder some people are so frustratated and aggressive.

Chisom said...

((sob..sob...sob....sob.....))I weep for the people you speak about. I have witnessed situations like the one you described and it is heart wrenching.

afrochic said...

All hail the Queen!Let all pretenders please leave!It's really good 2 have u back with your guns blazing after the long hiatus. Ur truly an inspiration to my generation. Please never stop keeping it real. u keep showing up the intrinsic good in each & everyone of us. God bless you ma'am.

モテる度チェッカー said...

なかなか彼氏、彼女が出来ない君達の深層心理を徹底解明♪みんなでモテる度チェッカーをやって結果交換も自由、ゴウコンや休み時間はモテる度チェックで暇つぶし!次にモテ期が訪れる瞬間をズバリ診断、チャンスを逃すな