Sunday, March 12, 2017

Don't blame the Nigerian man

The diminutive white banker next to the Nigerian man is sweating. Big, ripe lumps of liquefied anxiety. His matted hair glistens and his leather jacket lays limp on his shoulder. 

He’s from New York, he had told the Nigerian man back in the lounge. This trip to Lagos is his last before he returns home. 

After a 2 hour delay, the airbridge too had stopped working, and two FAAN officials in oversized suits had directed everyone to the foot of the aircraft. 

This was how we got here. 

Everyone looks up at the open entrance as though willing themselves to levitate to its mouth. 

It is 11 am in January and the sun maniacally lets lose its celestial heat. Against the tarred tarmac, the heat multiplied by many notches.

As an airstair made its way down the foot of the plane, towards where the Nigerian man stands - the little white banker still beside him - a scene begins to play out not unlike the ones at Oshodi bus stations on a Monday morning. 

Nigerians - men and women in native dresses now packed up so as to be unencumbered - run up the stairs. 

At the foot of the airstair, jostling arms flew every which way and truculent tongues traded curses. 

If one happened upon this scene without a context, one might be tempted to assume it’s a free plane ride to an exotic unknown place.

It would appear that everyone was not checked in, counted and assigned uncompromisable seat numbers before they got to the foot of the plane. 

The white banker invokes a wry smile and pulls out his iPhone 5. He will preserve this patent absurdity for his friends back in New York who will throw their heads back in self-righteous laughter when they see it. Like they just didn’t elect a racist wank-bucket into their White House. Like they don’t cheat on their wives and watch porn movies when they are alone in the den.

I’d like to tell you the Nigerian man didn’t jostle. He did. 

But don’t blame the Nigerian man. The one who has endured years of having to fight for the very air he breathes, and hearing often that the person who sucked the last air out of the room did so because she knew someone in Aso Rock. 

Don’t blame the Nigerian man. For if it weren’t for the interminable betrayal constantly visited on him by his nation, he might be less inclined to scramble. 

When his little white banker finally made it into the cabin, everyone including the Nigerian man yelled: “what took you so long?”