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If it's a story then I'll tell it my own way.
Pretoria, South Africa
Jonathan is most times bent over a desk writing or studying. He is a Masters student at the University of Pretoria South Africa. He loves to write about Africa, Politics and Business. Jonathan's articles and writings have appeared on several online platforms like AfricaOnTheBlog, Tuck Magazine, Viva-Naija, and he provides content for startup businesses with a need for brand advertising and growth. He is the Author of Zarfi, Grey Wine, Discover Stories and a curator for the cfwriterz online magazine.
My wife and I had had a great night at the Rad Madison Hotel. Head office announced my new role as regional manager and chief of operations across Sub-Saharan Africa and some part of the Middle East. Regina was beaming, with a permanent smile stuck to her face. I'd never seen her that happy. The Cadillac Escalade crawled into the driveway of our Gregorian type home; sturdy columns, vintage carvings by the prominent Italian wood sculptor and friend El Giovanna. I stepped out and helped Regina onto the Porch, the light came on but there was no Dare. My Valet and Chef also doubled as the family Nanny and would always watch the kids while we went on outings. The day we met, it was at an African day function, he was there cooking up some grilled meat popularly called "Suya." We laughed and talked about our homes; how I missed Kumasi and he Lagos. We shared an uncommon bond which seemed to be a result of our West-African heritage. "Why's the house so quiet?" Regina asked me. I turned to shush her. The eerie silence told me there was something out of place. Even Kgomotso, our live-in gardener was not at the gate as usual of him. We had made sure our home was colored with African nationals. John, our first son could speak a little of the Zulu he had learned from Kgomotso. Our daughter had taken a liking to Dare who told some of the most beautiful Ijapa and Yanibo stories. Remembering where we had been from, I always felt like my home was too perfect to remain forever. I could feel my heart starting to race as I pushed open the front door. The lights were out. We stepped into the living room and I flicked on the light. Regina let out a scream. The seats and shattered center table were covered in blood. Regina had started to run up the stairs and I followed suit, grabbing a baseball bat along the way. We rushed into the children's room, Regina ran straight at the pile of bodies. First, she pulled off Kgomotso whose back was riddled with knife cuts, his body rolled off the pile. My hands fumbled through my jacket, grabbing my phone, I dialed 911. "Help me pull his leg!" Regina screamed at me, pointing at Dare whose eyes stared into space unblinking. I could see the tiny arms of my daughter, so I grabbed Regina and held her as she kicked and thrashed about. "My babies, My babies!" she wailed on and on in my arms. Then we heard the sound that shut her up "Mommy..." John called out almost inaudibly. We both rushed to pull Dare's body off. John had a small cut above his eyebrow, a scar that would forever remind us of that day. Kisi cried for months anytime she saw or heard someone speak Yoruba. The reports from the New York Police Department (NYPD) led to the conclusion that the homicide attack was politically motivated, there was a letter. Someone had wanted me dead after the deal for DRC oil exploration had pissed off the government. They thought I was the key to making sure insurgents were not given the fat payoff they had always had in the region. The attacker had kicked open the door smack into John's face. The boy had quickly regained composure and run up the stairs to grab his sister. Dare and Kgomotso had paid the ultimate price to defend our babies. They wouldn't budge until the attacker fled the house. They must have made themselves into a body shield covering John and Kisi with their battered bodies. *** This fictional story is the result of my thoughts today about Ghana, South Africa, and Nigeria. We have been a major part of African liberation but yet are still full of hate for each other. Nigerians must forgive South Africans in advance for what they might or will do to us. This is the only way to break the cycle of hate in Africa. The same must apply to South Africa and Ghana and every African country. Our fathers bled for the development of other countries of which today most of us have no stake in. We will always be presented with a choice, to bleed for Africa or to make others bleed. No African has had it easy. Whether rich, poor or privileged. We all are products of centuries of bloodshed, slavery, colonialism, and struggle. It's our duty to honour their memories by defending Africa with our lives. This might cost us our pride, our feelings of entitlement, our memories of killings across tribes and countries. It will cost us a lot but we must be willing to forgive ourselves in advance for the evil planted in our hearts by decades of oppression and separatist politics.
I consider it an ordeal to travel in Africa. My parents traveled a lot when I was younger and I have always wanted to travel too. The way they talked about living in Northern Nigeria, it feels like a different world from now. They never felt like strangers whenever they left home, but Africa is changing. It's meant to be the height of experiences; for young people to pack a bag and travel to see the continent but present day Africa could be as hostile as it is beautiful. Being a stranger is not just about changing GPS location, it's about being where you are not expected to be. I am Nigerian and I am skinny. One would think identity and body size are just what they are but along with identity comes the burden of stereotypes. After a few months of arriving South Africa from Nigeria, I visited an Indian Doctor in Hatfield, Pretoria. The first thing he said was "You are Nigerian, so you gonna pay me with drugs? Ahh! I am joking!" Very inconvenient joke I must say, but that was my reward for being Nigerian in South Africa. In moments like those you almost feel as if you are not welcome, that you are a stranger. South Africa is a good place but when it comes to making jokes, it sucks some times. Some locals tell you how they actually think about you -probably something bad- and then they add that it's just a joke. What better way to peddle stereotypes than to make jokes about them? Now every Nigerian who leaves home is a drug peddler? The moment we step out of our borders we are labelled. I have also heard that Indians are rapists and drug abusers too. Should I have said so to that doctor and probably added "I am joking?" The student medical aid is compulsory for all foreign students including Nigerians who are just a little different from South Africans. The medical aid is crap from what I hear and I am sure they also know I am Nigerian and think "probably he is a drug peddler." What happens when I need to use this aid? What if someone does not attend to me just because they think I am a criminal. The day I visited the GP at Hatfield, I had to pay the Indian Doctor with cash that I don't have and he told me it might take another century to get my claim back. It actually took a century to get the claims department and they never paid. *sigh* That day after telling me what was wrong with me, the Doctor gave me some drugs and warned that I must eat before taking the drugs. He said "You look skinny, either because you don't have food or you are just skinny." After worrying about my citizenship, now I had to worry about my body size. There are fat humans, average sized humans, skinny humans and so on and so forth. How long would it take for us to accept these differences? The whole idea of racism and apartheid thrived on the idea that skin colour is a definitive element of your humanity. Skin colour, body type, hair or any other body feature are things no one chooses. Yet a lot of us are made to feel like we don't fit in, just because of these things. People avoid you for as little as the fact that how you look or talk or walk is strange or new to them. I am skinny not by a fault of my own, my body structure is far from perfect for those who have seen me. I limp slightly, and it's not from an accident. I was born with a birthmark on my forehead and for years I felt different. There are so many funny things that are not "right" about my looks but everyone has their own weird features. If you looked around you, there are at least a hundred people who don't look exactly like you just because they eat different or live in a different environment. But these people are just as human as you are. Holding a Nigerian passport or walking with a limp doesn't make one human better than another. The value of life is one and the same all over the world. Being a stranger in Africa stems from the dying culture of inclusiveness, community and hospitality that Africans used to be known for. There is a hate culture eating deep into the fabric of our lives, we have been hunted, haunted and broken by strangers. Understandably, suspicion and fear becomes a defence but must we lose the beauty of Africa to fear and hate? We need to embrace universal citizenship, to travel, to love, to eat with and walk with people who seem different from us. There's no need for us to be strangers in our own world.