By Mofoluwake Omololu.
During my last trip home to Benin, I boarded an air conditioned 18-seater bus. I boarded it, not because I could comfortably pay the park’s #5000 fixed price, I really couldn’t and would have opted for the negotiable road side vehicles if my father hadn’t insisted I come with the much safer and more comfortable option. He even offered to reimburse me and I was relieved to some extent after that.
I stay with my brother and his family in Nasarawa and they look after me well enough despite my unemployed state. My brother had asked me to come stay with him as I was job hunting, the catch being that he was closer to the federal capital where I wanted so badly to work and I could lend a hand baby sitting my twin nieces since his wife was due back at work.
It has been 16 months since and I’m still job hunting
Well, so I boarded the bus, I had a very comfortable seat by the window and the journey began. Typical me, I had my earphones on before the “pastor” had even hopped on the moving bus to hop off just after the driver had fuelled the bus and he was done praying and collecting “offering”.
As the journey proceeded and with the Barlow Girls serenading me I was hardly conscious of the happenings around me until the passenger beside me leaned hard into me in a bid to turn and face an audience behind. I was going to protest but as I removed my earphones I realized there was gist flowing around me, and I’m all for gist. So I paused my music, folded my ear phones and adjusted too to be a part of the gist.
There was a lot of back and forth about everything and nothing, mostly the sad state of the roads.
We stopped for brunch at Lokoja. As we continued our journey the banter touched on unemployment and everybody had something to say about it, those that had only laughed previously, those that only had humorous puns to inject in the conversation, even those that had been dozing… everybody had something to say, including the driver. Driver, a man who couldn’t be younger than 45, said he had just his SSCE result since he hadn’t known anybody back in the day who could help him secure an admission into the university. He had done all manner of menial jobs to keep body and soul together and was lucky to have had one bus driver who taught him to drive and then introduced him to the company he now worked for. He wants better, but society has reduced him to a road tout and it would take a miracle for him to reach close to his dreams.
A seeming older lady, older from the wrinkles she bore, spoke up after the driver had been encouraged some.
“Me na my pikin o. We don try sotay e don go school graduate commot, and him result good o no be say e fail. e don go do service finish come come house follow me siddon. E say e wan follow me dey sell akara, person wey don graduate. Na him first graduate for our family o. E no see government work to do, shebi person wey finish school suppose get better work bah? How I go gree for am to come dey follow do market work for village. But e no easy o, for all of us and even am… I no wan make my pikin come dey do village people work, e go school na”.
At this point we’re all looking at her remorsefully, I personally have seen such a situation and it is disheartening.
One of the passengers who had told us she was a business woman, a caterer, told us she had been of similar case but the difference was how she had handled it and with support from her folks.
She’d graduated and served and waited a year for a job but when it wasn’t forthcoming she started to cook because she felt she was really good at it and before long she’d grown into a brand.
It hadn’t been easy and she had needed a lot of help. She’d known how to cook but on a larger scale she’d needed more lessons and had she’d gotten them.
There were lots of cooks around then but the difference had been her literate input. She’d made sure to make a good impression on her customers in her presentation and service, word had spread fast and soon she’d had more business flowing in than she’d anticipated.
She told the older woman that there was nothing wrong with doing “village people” jobs, and her child’s education was in fact an advantage.
The conversation went on for a bit, and I realized everybody is affected by the scourge directly or indirectly.
By the time I had alighted I was sufficiently enlightened.
I’ve taken up my make-up business and although I have very few and wide apart clients at a time, I’m making some money and putting my best foot forward.
Know that a lot of jobs are not demeaning per se, it’s the way they are done that tell tales. With an education a great difference can be made.
Yes, my father reimbursed me in 6 folds.