The news that my younger sister had cancer came to me as a shock. The reality of what might eventually happen hit me in the face. In the past, I have heard of the excruciating agonies undergone by people, especially with terminal cancer, like, in the case of my sister. For over a year, I played the role of a counsellor; quoting all the healing scriptures I know and saying all the prayers I could. I encouraged her to fight on, until last year, when for about four weeks, she was in coma. That period, I wept like a baby because I felt I wasn’t given enough chance to chat with my closest family member. Thankfully, she became conscious and was later discharged from the hospital. We hoped against hope, believed against the obvious, and began to see possibilities even at the gray end. That window of time was a great opportunity for me to really talk with my sister. I spoke to her about the need to forgive those who hurt her; I even told her how loving your enemies can inspire the healing of our physical bodies. She followed all I said. She was my best friend.
When for three days, I didn’t hear from her, I sent a message asking what my offence was. I never knew that her health had started to fail again. The day she was to be readmitted into the hospital, she intimated me by saying, ‘Brother, I’m going back again’. Considering the devastating effect the cancer had had on her, in my head I knew that making it back this time may be an impossible task. Just about one week after being readmitted, we lost her. My sister, my best family friend and one of my best confidants was gone. The wife of a specialist doctor, the mother of a two year old, and a computer science lecturer in a South African university is dead. The cancer of kidney played a fast one on us; taking our loved one away.
Because of our closeness, I made a decision that wherever she’ll be buried, I must attend to pay my last respect. At first, the decision was to lay her to rest in South Africa, but that plan was later changed to Nigeria; our home country.
After all the screaming and shouting on the phone, I later got my e-ticket from the travel agent I booked with. One of my best friends who was the former Mayor of Waltham Forest volunteered to drop me at Heathrow Airport, together with her husband. We got to Heathrow earlier than the boarding time. I had to wait long hours before checking my luggage in. At 2130; the time to board, one of the airline staff took the microphone to announce that the flight had been cancelled. They opted to book us in a hotel until the following night. We were all furious, and a few of us immediately became human rights activists. Like typical human beings, before we could say, ‘Jack’, most people were already boarding the coach that was to take us to our hotel. So, the activists request to be transferred to another flight was ignored since they used democratic jurisprudence as the final legislation for making their decision, because it worked in their favour. My fear was that the burial was to take place Saturday morning. I wanted to land in Lagos, Nigeria, Friday morning, and then take a local flight that same evening to the state where the burial will take place. Another challenge was that it takes two hours drive to get to my intended village from the local airport of that state (Enugu state). I calculated that getting to Lagos Saturday morning might make me miss the burial, and it almost did. But the good news was that I made it because they waited for me to say goodbye to a beautiful heart who hated no one. In addition, for fighting on behalf of other passengers and threatening never to take the airline again, I was compensated with a business class ticket.
In this article, I mentioned the issue of flying, casually, but the truth is that for me, flying isn’t casual. If you would like to know, I must confess that I am one of those who fear flying. If it were possible to travel by disappearing from where you are and arriving at your destination, I will pay for that option. In spite of having a science background, I still wonder how that heavy bird would balance and float deliberately in the air for hours without dropping (except for some technical issues). One thing that inspires me to fly despite my dislike for it is the fact that you can’t succeed except you go up and move forward. If you remain where you are, you will die where you are unfulfilled. In the air, I always think about people who have stood out in their professions or calling, and I can’t remember anyone making an impact by simply sitting in one location. If they did fly to succeed, and if flying didn’t kill most of them, it definitely wouldn’t kill me. I will continue to brave my fears, jump into that balloon and move on to where my skills are needed.
One suicidal error most people in the western world have made is the belief that Africans live on trees like monkeys. In spite of all the political correctness, when you go in between the crevices of an average western person, you’ll find that stereotypic conviction.
For four days in Nigeria, I saw Africa as the next super power of the world. You may laugh and mock but one day, you’ll see it happen. My conviction is based on the premise that, in the west, you have the skills, but in Africa, you have the opportunities. Acquiring skill is easy, but getting opportunities is difficult; a person with opportunities has less problems. Another angle to it is the hunger I see in Africans in Africa to reposition themselves skill-wise. As the west sits down in their dwindling luxury to call us ignorant and barbaric, bit by bit, with the help of China and other Asian nations, Africa moves towards modernisation.
Remember, in the preceding paragraph, I used the slogan Africans in Africa. The reason I used that terminology is because there are many Africans in Europe who don’t believe in Africa. They see the continent as a waste, unknown to them that there’s a huge asset in that nature-filled environment.
Lest I forget, the apartment I stayed was a mini palace. The car I was driven in was top class. And that was Africa; not Europe, not Asia, and not the almighty America!
Think, think, and think. Invest in Africa. Africa is a fertile soil; you can’t regret putting your money in Nigeria. There is a massive success potential for those who will dare. Let’s put something there. Do it because the smart ones are already doing it. Do you think you’re smarter than China?