By Faith Treasure Ogudu
Anambra State, which they describe as the “Light of the Nation” and the “fourteenth most populous” state in Nigeria, is one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit, but being there now, it is a place I don’t want to visit again.
My name is Faith. I’m from Edo State, Owan East LGA. After graduating from the prestigious University of Benin, I waited for my call up letter for NYSC. Eventually it came out and I was posted to Anambra State. When I told my friends about it, they were against it, asking me to redeploy because of the bad things they claimed to have heard about the place but I chose not to listen to them.
My parents and aunt were in support of me going there because they believed it was God that sent me there. So I started packing my bags, getting ready to travel. So I finally got to Anambra for camping. During my three weeks in camp, most of my friends were already planning of relocating due to the bad things they’d heard about Anambra and the worst thing I heard was, “Anambra people do eat human beings’ and also the kidnapping rate is very high.
After hearing all of these, I started developing fears and hatred towards this place. So at the end of the three weeks camping, all my friends relocated, leaving me behind. So I told my mum about it and she said “Don’t listen to them, nothing will happen to you, God will protect you”. So I was a bit relieved but the fear was still instilled in me.
I was posted to Fides Media for my Primary Place of Assignment but I had to travel down to Benin first to bring my stuffs down to Anambra. When I travelled back, anytime someone asked me where I was posted to and I told them, the next thing I would hear is, “Be careful O, Anambra is not safe, the people there are dangerous and wicked; they like money, they will dupe you and steal your things if you are not careful”. My fear began to increase and I was like, “God, please, help me”.
When I got to the park where I would board a bus going to Awka, It was expensive and my friend advised that I stop at Onitsha which is cheaper than taking a bus from Benin directly to Awka. Then I should take a bus from Onitsha to Awka which is also cheaper.
So when I got to Onitsha, after Head Bridge precisely my load was much, so I looked for a wheelbarrow guy around to help me carry my stuff to Awka Motor Park.
On our way, a group of touts stopped us and asked me to pay for my load. I asked them why I was paying for the load but they couldn’t give me a good reason, saying that was how they do here in Anambra. I was shocked. Then, their leader instructed one of his boys to seize my loads since I was not ready to pay. That was when I realized that this people were actually serious but I still insisted that I was not going to pay.
The argument became worse and I didn’t know when I started crying and people started gathering. The worst part is that they were just speaking Igbo. So one of them asked me in Igbo “Kedu ihe mere” and I said, “I don’t speak Igbo”. Then, he asked in English and I explained to him. Then the next thing he said was, “that is how they do it here”; that I should just give the thugs money and go. It was then I realized I wasn’t going to stay in this state for long because I knew I’m not the only victim. This was the first time I was experiencing something like this.
In Lagos and Benin, the touts there would even assist you to carry your load without paying a dime except you offered to pay them money for their good act.
I was now regretting why I didn’t relocate and not only because of that, but also because of a video that was going round in our group chat about a girl that was kidnapped here in Anambra, and for the fact that I didn’t hear Igbo made it worse. These people can just sell me right in front of me without me knowing because of the rate at which they spoke their language. Everywhere I go is, “Igbo”; in my work place, church, market place. And also they are not friendly and caring.
The same day, I got to Awka late because of the issue I had with the touts. It happened that there was this old woman trying to cross the road with a heavy load on her head but no one was ready to help her; they just left her to carry her load and she was struggling to cross the busy road. I don’t think I will love to remain here after my service. I just can’t wait to finish up my service and leave.