From Owerri To Calabar, I learnt A Very Big Lesson

“Do not make mockery of any stranger because of his looks, dressing, character, tribe, religion or accent”

By 6 am, I was already at a park in Owerri looking for a bus going to Calabar. I heard a man shouting “Akwa Ibom!  Calabar!” I rushed to that direction, paid and entered the vehicle. Passengers were coming one after the other. But there was this passenger who paid and sat beside the car door while there were still enough empty seats inside. He was blocking the entrance making it difficult for coming passengers to enter. He looked like an Hausa man and wore a white kaftan. Other passengers began to shout at him asking him to shift so that other people can enter easily. But the man neither shifted nor responded to their ranting. After much pressure, the man came down to allow coming passengers to enter before he sat back at his seat.

When the car was filled, the driver closed the door and the journey began. As the driver was driving, he and the passengers made fun of the Hausa man. They said all sorts of things. “If say na Igbo man do dis kind thing for North, they for kill am” A passenger said “Hausa and Fulani do business here without lgbos disturbing them but they won’t allow lgbos to do business freely in the north”. The Hausa man said nothing but was busy looking at each and every one of them as they were making fun of him. One elderly woman in the bus said “see as him face be like nnama own, ewu Hausa” Another passenger replied “They all behave like their cows and rams” they all laughed. I never said a word. I was rather busy watching an American movie on my mobile phone. The Hausa man was the topic of discussion in the bus till we reached somewhere in lkot Ekpene where he said he would drop.

“Driver! Na here l go stop. My bag dey for your boot” the Hausa man said. The driver stopped and the man came down. The driver also came down to open the boot for him to carry his belongings. However, there were about six soldiers standing on the road where the car stopped. When they saw the Hausa man, the six soldiers shouted in excitement “Oga Musa! Welcome sir.” They stood at attention and saluted him. As soon as the driver opened the boot of the vehicle, two of the soldiers rushed to carry their oga’s bag from the boot. Suddenly, the next thing we heard was “everybody come down”. Already all the passenger were overwhelmed with fear when they saw the six able bodied soldiers saluting the same man who they have been insulting and making fun of all the way from Owerri to lkot EKpene. He must be a higher ranking army officer. “Chineke mee, we don finish today” a passenger sitting beside me said.

“Una no dey hear. 0ga say all of you come down!’’ the soldiers shouted. As the passengers were coming down one after the other, they were receiving their slaps and beatings respectively. When it reached my turn, their “oga” told his boys that “this one no follow” This was how l was saved from the notorious beatings of Nigerian soldiers. They beat the driver mercilessly and ordered him to frog jump in a pool of dirty water. They used the passengers to do military training that faithful day as they beat, punch, slap and kick every one of them until their oga asked them to stop. Finally, the soldiers and their “oga” left the driver and passengers alone, walked to their military truck and drove off.

Already, I have gone back to my seat. The driver and passengers later entered the bus. They were all shouting at me saying “so you know that this man was a soldier and you didn’t tell us earlier. I told them that l did not know. And actually, l never knew he was a military man. It was just God that saved me.

However, l learnt a very big lesson that day which was “silence is golden”. Do not make mockery of any stranger because of his looks, dressing, character, tribe, religion or accent. You never can tell who or what the person is in the society. He could be an armed robber, a terrorist, a witch, a babalawo or even your future boss. I believe you learnt from this story too and don’t forget to drop your comments.

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