“The unseen enemy is always the most fearsome” – George R.R. Martin

“You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you” – Lisa Kleypas

 

Focusing on the wrong enemies! Please, this article is not about defending ourselves against pathogenic microbes and other parasites. Naaa, naaa, naaa…me no like such topics dem (in my Jamaican voice). Neither is the article about evolving terrorist threats and the continuing challenges of domestic intelligence collection and information sharing. Naaa, naaa, naaa…such topics are quite boring, especially after having my third green bottle on a Thursday evening. Neither is it about Erdogan’s abstract enemies, parallel organization and superior mind. Haba, Baruu, e don do naaa…talk wetin you wan talk and stop all these big grammar wey you dey speak. OK, OK, OK, OK……

I’ve spent quite some time on planet earth. Yeah, some time…more than two decades, I guess. Almost three decades! *takes another gulp from the green bottle and keeps typing*. During this short stay on earth, I’ve encountered people with hackneyed opinions on a lot of issues. One of such trite opinions that came to my mind this evening was the one I witnessed two weeks ago.

As usual, I went to Mama Chinedu’s joint in the evening after the day’s hustle to have some smoked bush meat and palm wine. Obviously, I knew the palm wine wouldn’t be fresh by that time of the day. But I needed that white frothy liquid in my tummy. To be frank, I’ve missed it for a couple of weeks. Upon arrival, I met the men listening attentively to Kakpo. He was narrating his life journey and travails. When I walked in, I heard him talk about going to a ‘powerful’ woman’s place at Ikeduru and learning about his past, present and future from the woman. According to him, the woman mentioned the names of all the people that were holding his destiny and preventing him from prospering in life. Finally, he showed us an object the woman asked him to bury at the entrance of his compound. This would change any enemy’s mind from bad to good once the enemy arrives at his compound with an evil intention. Eee speak lee kwe…pamurogo!

Slowly, I took a sip from my palm wine mug and then took a piece of the bush meat’s lap. Boy, that meal was ‘super-tasty’…I swear. I took another bite from the bush meat’s chest. Kai, this is the sweetest part jor. In all honesty, Kakpo is not alone in having this kind of ‘mumu’ thoughts. We see such people on a daily basis; people that believe their setbacks are as a result of charms or some diabolical stuff done by their enemies.

Kakpo was a young man that grew up with us in the same neighborhood. He was very popular because at an early age, he reared rabbits and pigeons. After some time, he would sell the animals and make some cool cash. At the age of nine, I saw Kakpo with a bundle of naira notes while we were playing in the evening. He promptly told me that was the cash he made from selling his animals. Boy, I must admit, I was quite envious of his success at that time. By the age of 12, he dropped out of secondary school to focus on his hustles. By then, he had opened a video club in the neighborhood and was renting movies for a fee. Kakpo was earning money as a teenager while we still depended on pocket money and dash dash from relatives. At a point, I almost had the urge to drop out of school also and embark on my own hustles. I was sure Kakpo would be glad to have me as his first apprentice in the numerous hustles he embarked on. But all thanks to the Lord and my dear Virgin Mary, for making me realize it wasn’t a good option and I persisted with my studies.

Fast forward to some years later; I had graduated from high school and was waiting to be admitted into the university. On one of my trips to Benin City, I met Kakpo at a bar near the University road. I went to have a meal and there he was, munching aggressively on a cow tail like a man starved for a hundred years. We exchanged pleasantries and I pretended I was happy to see him while he did same too. ‘Where you dey since’, he asked after I sat down. I told a lie – I wanted to measure up to what I suspected was the normal standards. So I told him I was a full time web developer based in Lagos (when actually, I was still attending web and graphic design classes at Nsukka). ‘What about you’, I asked expecting to hear something like he now ran a multimillion Naira company. But the answer to my question took me aback and had me regretting I had told a lie earlier. The burden of having to confess every week to the priest was too much already.

‘My brother, things no dey easy o. I don try every possible thing wey I fit do but to no avail. I don stop that video rental business tey tey. My brother, I don get ministry o. I finished Bible College and presently, I am an ordained minister of God’, he said as he took a gulp from the bottle of fanta beside his plate. I tried so hard to suppress the urge to laugh and I succeeded in doing so. From rabbit seller to video club owner and now, an ordained minister of God, holed up in some cheap restaurant in Benin City, eating cow tail and fanta. Na wa o, so much for being a man of God. Well, I wasn’t in any position to judge anyone sha.

As I was washing my hands to commence my own munching and chopping, Kakpo had already finished his meal and stood up to leave. He murmured a barely audible ‘God bless you’ and left for the door. I stared at the pair of shoes he was wearing and felt pity for him. E no easy at all!

Fast forward again to some years later; I had arrived Ogbomosho to start my ‘rat poison’ business and who did I meet? Kakpo, the legendary hustler! This time around, he told me he was a Merrybet agent and swore that a seer told him that it was his mother that was behind all his problems. Since then, he had stopped talking to his mum and things were better for him. Na wa o, from one soothsayer to the other! O di egwu!

Just like Kakpo, a lot of homes and relationships have been destroyed because of such clichéd and stupid beliefs about people holding the destinies of others. What more can I say except feel pity for such people. And I am dead sure that if I meet Kakpo yet again in a couple of years, he would come up with another story of who is holding his destiny. That time, it might be his wife or the village king.

And so there I was in Mama Chinedu’s joint two weeks ago, taking bite after bite from the delicious bush meat on the plate. Mama Chinedu is really good at preparing such scrumptious meals. As the only Igbo food vendor in Ogbomosho, I must commend her diligence in giving her customers the near-perfect service they crave for. All the while, Kakpo was still telling his super story to the people that cared to listen. That guy get time o!

Before I left, I counted the money I made from selling rat poison – it was 850 naira. I gave Mama Chinedu 500 naira and was left with 350. That would be enough for me till the next day.

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