It is not easy surviving in the township. If most people knew what lay in wait for them, they wouldn’t have taken the leap of faith to leave their respective villages to come and hustle in the townships. Personally, if I knew what lay ahead of me, I would have stayed back in the village. By now, I would have finished my apprenticeship at the Dibia’s house and opened my own shop, pouring libation to the gods every morning and doing other stuffs that Native Doctors do. Or in a best case scenario, I would have become the village town crier. Or something else! But as for life in the township, forget about it. It’s not just about the hustle and bustle every freaking day. Naa, Naa, Naa…that’s not the point. I am talking about the suburban war that most people in township consciously or subconsciously engage in; the battle of lifestyles. This battle drives people to do anything possible (without giving a thought to the repercussions) just to belong to the acceptable class in township.

I was chilling at the bar after a tough and stressful day. Now this bar wasn’t my usual local spot. I got lucky that day and made some extra bucks, so I decided to treat myself to a lavish meal and drinks at a classy joint. I decided to make the outing quick because I was expecting an important mail from an acquaintance – a detail of a new website she wanted for her clothing line. I gently walked into the bar, sat down and crossed my right leg on the other. I wore my new pair of shoes so I decided to show off a lil’ bit. No blame me jor, that shoe cost me an arm and a leg. The waitress walked up to me and asked what I wanted to have. I requested for the menu and to my surprise, a bottle of Star beer was sold for one thousand five hundred naira. My goodness, which kind trap be dis na! I wanted to sneak out of the place guyman-ishly but decided otherwise. I mean, C’mon, there was no harm in spending that amount on a bottle of Star. But na the first and last time I go try am, I swear. So I ask her to get one for me. Maybe na the blood of our Lord dey inside the bottle, I wondered. She asked whether I wanted their special fish barbecue to go with the drink. This girl na real winch o, I swear. E be like say she see me for dream, wan come milk me dry. I reject it in Jesus name, I said silently. Politely, I declined the offer to purchase the special fish barbecue and any other thing they had to offer. Just get me the bottle of Star beer make I drink comot from this place.

All the while, my neighbor Nelly, her boyfriend Tonye and two other people were seated in the same bar. I saw her and walked up to exchange pleasantries. It was also an opportunity to say Hi to her boyfriend and remind him of my five grand wey him dey owe me. Ever since he lost the bet we staked during the match between Manchester United and Arsenal FC, he has been dodging and avoiding me. As I reached their table, I couldn’t believe my eyes. On their table was a bottle of Ciroc vodka, two mighty fishes on a plate well garnished, a bottle of Hennessy and some bottles of Coke. Omo, I use my brain calculate how much wey dey that table. This place wey one bottle of Star na 1,500 bucks…na em be say one bottle of Ciroc fit pay that guy house rent na. Him come add Hennessy join am. I finally said Hi and asked after their health, jobs, landlord and anything else I could think about. I called Tonye out and we went towards the main bar. “O boi, wey my money na. You no dey try o”, I said angrily. “Bros, abeg, no vex for me. Try understand. No reason all those things wey dey our table o. All na magic. Na Nelly say she wan chop all those things. Wetin I go do na. I suppose live up to expectation na. No worry, I go drop your cash next week”, he humbly explained.

The waitress eventually called my attention while I was haggling Tonye over my cash and when he would pay up. What could I do na? I finally left him to go back to his table while I proceeded to mine. At my table, I thought about what Tonye had told. Now before you call me old school, please hear me out first. I have no reservations over treating oneself to a great outing once in a while. There is no problem in that. But when one consciously and consistently indulges in a lifestyle that is way above what he/she can afford, then it becomes a freaking problem. This no be the first time Tonye dey do dis kind thing. And it is a pity; he is a normal hustler like me doing his best to make ends meet in township. I knew how much he earned monthly.

The Suburban War! The Battle of whose lifestyle is the best. The battle of who has the phattest bank account. The battle of who has the latest designer gadgets and accessories.

One time, I knew a teacher in a public primary school married to a banker husband. Together, they had 2 kids and lived in a suburban neighborhood meant for the rich. They had 3 cars and paid up to 1.2 milli annually on their apartment. I was fortunate to be invited to the birthday ceremony of the youngest kid. Boy, I had me a lotta fun. I must confess those guys are living in heaven on earth. But then, I started thinking…how they could afford all that. I mean, I knew what they paid teachers in public schools back then and her husband was a regular guy counting money in a bank. I eventually realized this was the effect of The Suburban War. In a bid to live up to expectations, they had to do what they gotta do to be on a similar (or even higher) level as their contemporaries. This was a lady that spent a lot of guap on expensive spa visits and the family took regular vacations to exotic places. I am not in a position to judge but in all honesty, e be like say them get juju wey dey vomit money for them. Last time I talked with them over the phone, they no longer stayed in town; they’ve gone off to some village in the Middle belt and I understood the reality of life had set in. I realized all those while, they were living on borrowed cash and loans meant to service their lavish lifestyle.

I couldn’t stress more on the importance of REALNESS. The Suburban War is a battle we chose to engage in; it is not a compulsory fight. There are many more important battles we partake in on a daily. Life itself is a freaking war so why occupy ourselves with a meaningless war. It’s a pity that is what our society has turned into. People would gladly brag about who has the most expensive Mikano generator instead of focusing on how the government would provide stable electricity for the populace. Do your best to focus on saving for the rainy day and not on trying to outshine your contemporaries. Because in all honesty, no one really cares!

The Suburban War is a battle that can never be won by anyone. It is therefore pertinent not to engage in it at all. Capisce!

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