The Firewood Kitchen And Presidential Aroma

Posted: October 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


By Stella Omepa


For hours I stood in line waiting eagerly for my turn.


An elderly woman was standing right before me and for the first time in many years, I found a good Nigerian. I couldn’t stop but wonder what the heck she was doing there.


Mr. A’s wife was in labor pains, he had just received the call and needed cash to join them at the hospital and the good Nigerian smiled, wished him the best and let him in.


Then she turned and smiled at me. I somehow managed to return the smile.

I didn’t need a magician’s hint the moment I saw Mr. B, the look on his face said it all. He whispered something I couldn’t make out and the good Nigerian nodded and shifted immediately to let him in.


Knowing exactly what was to follow; I turned in time to avoid her face and that smile that displays volumes of unspoken words. That wasn’t the time to act nice. I was getting irritated by her kind gesture.


Then came along this school girl, she said she wasn’t going to be allowed to sit for her exams which was in a few minutes if what she owed the school wasn’t paid.


I could no longer contain it; “Mummy?” I struggled to keep my voice low. “We cannot stand here and allow everyone who comes along to go right ahead of us like we have got no business of our own. In fact, it is clear you don’t intend to leave here today but I want to and so it is my turn to seek your permission to go before you.”


She simply smiled and asked me to run along. I felt defeated and my anger instantly melted into confusion. “What if they were all lying?” I asked helplessly.


“What if they weren’t?” She asked.


I ignored the question she had returned for an answer and focused my attention on the reason why I was there.


We eventually finished at the same time even though I got a cashier’s attention before her. There was probably more to my transaction than hers.


You know, I lost my son a few months ago. She said walking gently behind me. I stopped, and then turned around to face her.


That experience taught me one lesson—not to lose focus of that which is important. Nothing in life is greater than giving another a reason to smile. I didn’t have an emergency of my own and sacrificing a little of my time for those who came with one isn’t too much even if they were lying. They must have lied for a reason and that is not up to me to judge.


I let you have your way because my intension wasn’t to waste your own time. Each time I turned, I was only trying to be sure you were okay. If you had said otherwise, I would have given up my space after the first man came in.


I watched as she walked away quietly, then the reason why I was so impatient hit me.


It was my birthday and I had a lot to do.


I am one of those who shares the same birth month with our dear country and we are celebrating that of this year when Nigerians are arguing the 2013 budget.


Our leaders are truly determined to make Nigeria better but the more determined they get, the more they lose focus of that which is important—reducing the gap between the rich and the poor.


Only the budget for the 2013 state house feeding or welfare package as it is called makes the poor man hungry and wrinkles the face that should be covered with smiles born out of gratitude for a nation that is immensely blessed with natural resources.


Hmmm, not until we eventually produce the crop of leaders who will quit thinking primarily about themselves and their own self-preservation, we will never undergo the heroic transformation that will take us to the height of a truly independent state.


It will remain the case of the good woman in her firewood kitchen, soul hearted food, and the presidential kitchen sweet aroma, but selfish by product.


That leader could be you or elected by you. All it takes is to think primarily about Nigeria instead of self, either as a leader or the led for the leaders makes the nation and the led makes the leader.


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