An untold story of a determined Carrier (Kaya)
By Adedara Oduguwa
Today, I wish to talk about someone whose story and history should be added to the subject-History (hard work), which should be taught in homes and schools. This story is important today especially at a time when young people in Sagamu, Ogun State, Western Nigeria and Nigeria continually vote bohemia, delinquency and short-cuts as the only route to financial liberty and prosperity. More so, the societal value is increasingly depleting as what is used to be ‘culture and family home training’ which provides for ‘native intelligence’ in the growing youths is swiftly replaced by ‘hastiness of result’ exhibited by modern day parents.
Modern day parents were children of those days, who choose completely to bohemia, delinquency and corruption themselves but only to be cornered by the reality of life. These breed of parents felt their mission statement ‘getting rich quickly without consequence’ was not achieved due to their own parents who were absolutely not in support of such devilish way of getting wealthy. Little do such parents (modern parents) know they have failed the society for importing such holocaust into our community sphere.
Besides, when parents refuse to be responsible at the home front, after given birth to mushroom of kwashiorkor, haggard looking children and introducing them to life-destructive hazards (prostitution, fraud or stealing) due to fending for themselves, then it becomes expected for such to think of it ‘getting rich quickly without consequence’.
But then, a young man in the early 90s proved such thinking wrong by gallantly walking the work into his destiny and speaking from the dark of his existence that ‘ Life and determination is all that is needed to make a difference’ , not money nor fame! By name, he is Olaoluwa, born in the early 1980s, into the family of a great hunter father and mother who was a fufu (cassava flour) trader.
Olaoluwa attended St. Paul Primary School Sagamu and passed out with a very good grade even though he was the main hawker of his mother’s cassava flour (fufu). Around Sagamu, especially in Makun area, the name Olaoluwa was household name throughout the early 90s. Among the young people of his time, Olaoluwa was a Yoruba story teller. He would sit the young ones down and fed them with tales of Tortoise and its wife (Ijapa and Iyanibo), Yoruba history and more. One surprising thing about Olaoluwa was his prowess in Yoruba literature i.e Alawiye. His dream was to become a broadcaster. He could read any Yoruba literature fluently without mincing words. His use of antonomasia and onomatopoeia was excellent. As a lover of history, I remember how this young man who was some 5-8 years older than me reads Yoruba story to us. His voice in reading was as candy-coated as that of nightingale. He reads with patience and push. One could guess what motivated him at the time. He wanted to make a difference through making others happy, fulfilling and proud.
The society saw Olaoluwa as something close to useless due to his clothe which was as neat as rag and a body-odour unable to be condoled by Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien perfume (most expensive world perfume). Another feature of this great man was how he could walk throughout the street of Sagamu bare-footed. Olaoluwa was strong, physically powerful, fiercely dogged, modest and enterprising. He was such a workaholic that knew what he wanted. And everyone around him knew he was specially made brand.
How did I see him? I never felt uncomfortable around him. He was an idea of what suffering could be without parental upbringing. I saw the intellect and determination that pushes this less-privileged young man. I learnt the act of humility, determination, enterprise and service from him. Although, apart from the Yoruba storytelling act, which Olaoluwa would give for free anytime, everything or anything was for a price. He was more of an entrepreneur than a cheerful giver.
However, immediately after leaving St. Paul Primary School, his parents called him and told him he could not further due to lackry of fund. Um, he felt so bad and some of us (his history student) felt that would be the end of his journey. Sooner, he recovered from such unpleasant shock, and forged ahead. He worked at Olowo-Ake bakery for a while before delving into business. He started selling bamboo for TV antenna. In those days, there was nothing like DSTV or anything cable but local antenna for Black & White and coloured TV sets. Many houses in Sagamu cannot even be proud of owing a TV set being it coloured or black and white. Modernization was slow but gradual. In 1994, when father was installed as Lisa of Ibido, one could see the transition. I could remember vividly how everyone in Sagamu streets wore buba and sokoto (traditional shirt and rapper) with no single shirt and trouser. Today the story is completely different. Sagamu is today a second Lagos.
Back to my Olaoluwa’s story, I remembered how a rich man wanted to send Olaoluwa to school but one of his wives objected to the act. She argued ‘how can you send him to school and sooner, he would be competing with our children’. That’s not so disappointing today. How many of our men of honour or philanthropists can boast of sending orphans and less-privileged to school without a price? We are bad Samaritans.
However, after a while in the bamboo (Oparun) business, Olaoluwa felt he could diversify in order to make more money. He must have been inspired by log of the tortoise tales. He was a wise man. Sooner, he had become a major carrier (kaya) at the Awolowo market. In those days, kaya is a work that is reserved for the Hausas. No single Sagamu indigene could be so loose-fitting with such occupation. Olaoluwa, the dogged and focused entrepreneur didn’t think of what people would say. He carried out his job with due diligence and became an expat in that line. He got himself a wheel barrow, later added two and three wheel barrows. He started hiring two out and he was using one by himself. This was within a space of few years. At this point, his weekly income was more than what a secondary school teacher could earn in a month. He came back in one evening and told me he wish to get himself a motorcycle and later a car (taxi). That he would soon retire from being a carrier but would buy more wheel barrows which he intends to give out on rent. His ideas were novel and out of our world. He was so futuristic and determined than many graduates today.
Few weeks after this time, he was getting lot of issues with his elder brother Kusimo on rooms. Olaoluwa used to sleep in the passage of their house. So, end come to this on the day he felt he could build himself a house. He talked to Ajingolo (hunter title of his father) about building on the free land at his backyard. His father approved of his quest. In less than a month, Olaoluwa had erected a room and parlour (big enough to be two bedrooms flat in today’s measurement). Wow! This feat got many by shock. I was not surprised because I knew his financial worth. Meanwhile, it was this building that made many to start respecting this great entrepreneur. He was only about 20 years old at the time. He believed he can, and yes, he achieved it. The process of greatness for everyman remains the same. Every great man in history was once a wonderer. Most great people migrated from one occupation to another and eventually get to their destination (destiny).
What is more, few weeks after this time, I heard an outcry which made everyone to rush out of their respective homes. Like others, I traced the voice to the street. I saw a mob of people sobbing, jumping up and down. As young man, I was meddlesome to understand what transpired. I asked someone beside me and she said it’s like Olaoluwa is dead! What? I cannot comprehend this until I saw the hearse and his motionless body been whisked out. For few minutes I was emotionally aphonic. That would be the first juvenile’s death experience I had witnessed. I was shocked and disillusioned with nature, the society and his parents. Truly, Olaoluwa our Yoruba Story teller is dead. We were told he died of an internal disease. He was buried and from that point nobody remembers him.
Year in and out, Olaoluwa story kept flashing my thoughts. At times, I could feel him and even see him in my psychological mind. What made this man thick? What if he lived for 40, 50 or 70 years? His story was really touching and interesting. More interesting it becomes when many young people of my generation with similar background would argue that they are unfortunate because their parents cannot send them to school or support them in trade. Today, Olaoluwa’s brother after over 20 years of his death remains the landlord of his father’s house and that of his brother. He is in his late 40s or early 50s, yet cannot boast of owing a room of his own. That is life’s irony.
Consequently, I extracted the following lessons from Olaoluwa’s reminiscence.
1. No one can kill your dream without your permission. Although, Olaoluwa’s specific dream was to become a broadcaster, his general dream was to be successful in life. He achieved it even at a tender age before death came.
2. Determination is a better weapon than inheritance. Yes, Olaoluwa would have inherited only a room from his father’s four-face-me & face –u room house, but he built his own through hard work.
3. You can change your story without stealing and fraud. The shame in been labelled a fraudster or ritualist is more than been called a carrier (kaya). Dignity and honour is all that matters. At least for your children, if not for you.
4. Handwork is the only solution to financial wretchedness. Being hardworking is all that’s vital. No food for a lazy man. Move with responsible, progressive and honest people. The future belongs to only those who prepare for it.
5. Erase the thought ‘what will people say’ and face your life. Because if you fail or die poor, people will still say you have failed.
Why a story on Olaoluwa?
Few days ago, I was in contact with an old secondary school mate. He was now driving a porch car. He was only a secondary school grandaunt who never went further or work with any reputable company. A friend sitted beside me in the car said ‘are you surprised?’ ‘Yes’ I replied. He laughed and said ‘that is just one of his cars he is such a wealthy man now. I like him because he is smart.’ I asked him again, where is he getting this money from in this time of Buhari?’ He smiled and said ‘baba, I know Phd is good o, but don’t get it twisted, you don’t need a Phd to get money. That guy na internet wizard (yahoo yahoo)’. This time I smiled and asked ‘do you envy him? Because I don’t’, I only wish it won’t get late before he realizes it. Then he chuckled and said ‘ko kan aye’ meaning ‘who cares’. He added ‘the only thing I don’t like is the fact that some of them eat faeces from babies diapers with bread. Baba, it is so common now. In fact, they even build houses and buy cars for their parents with that money. Do you know there are lots of secondary school students (fraudsters) who have built houses in GRA?” He submitted.
Although it is not my first time of hearing such. I blame parents and the society for accepting such gluttony. More importantly, young ladies who should be in school for purposes of scholastic endeavour or learning a trade are deeply into prostitution due to receiving such support from parents and the society. Well, ignorance cannot positively change a society. Get busy and prove so many wrong. You don’t need to go wrong to get right!
What about the Nigerian police? The purpose of establishing it is to help in maintaining laws and orders but in reality, they are themselves law breakers or law breakers protector. They run after the most treacherous in the society and woo them on only for buyoff. Some collects such money they can’t earn as officers in a lifetime. At times, they even sought for parcels of land in the GRA. All criminals are well known to them but only few innocent or deviants (who refuse to pay them) are harassed and arrested.
It is somber how the future bleaks. Olaoluwa, keep resting in peace. We are so proud of you! It is left for you to leave good legacy behind. I will like to leave good legacy as well.
God bless the area called Nigeria.
Adedara writes from Sagamu, Ogun State.