Our ‘Malay’ Idiosyncrasy

By Amarachi Okpunobi

You know, when our young boys hear of the easy flowing cash in Malaysia, Indonesia and the likes of them, they are tempted to run away from Nigeria and never come back. Nigeria is a hell of a country now for most people, especially the poor masses, no doubt. However, things are not as easy as it sounds over there. If a young man full of vigour can’t survive in Nigeria, bet me, he can never survive anywhere in the globe.

I left for Malaysia in 2009 in quest of cool cash, ‘ego mbute’as called. I was 22 and full of vigour. Honestly, I thought it was like riding on a horse’s back. Earlier then, I had always had the mindset that I only needed to do a petty jobor probably make a small business and I would be flying in to Nigeria like the president with a private jet. But life itself is not a bed of roses. Struggles continue.

Going out of Nigeria drained my poor family of the little they had. Of course I was a smart Nigerian youth then and they all believed that I would eventually make it when I made known my intention of leaving the country known to them. They borrowed and even starved themselves to save for me. But the pitiable thing was that I still did not travel by air. I went through the tough, rough and hard way out of this country, the desert. Its better told than experienced. The sun melted my skin. If the sun can bleach a dark person, then I should have been the first. It wasn’t only me.Maybe that’s actually why I survived,but I almost resigned myself to death. We went on hunger strike for days and drank our urine to quench thirst. Of course we were not defecating ‘Na pesin wey see food chop dey go toilet’. Our Fulani herdsmen were better than us then. We were more of rags, abandoned persons or better still animals on exile. But to God be the glory, we arrived the almighty Malaysia alive but in shambles.

Then, the life of a Malaysian guy began. I had to learn and speak Malay. It was like a camel passing through the eye of a needle. ‘I neva speak English finish for Nigeria na to come speak another man’s tongue’. With time I learnt little, at least I was able to communicate with Malaysians. I strolled in the street morning and night till the money I had got exhausted. I had no vision. It seemed like Nigeria’s hardship was my shadow, as I experienced another phase of hardship in Malaysia. I had to eat through my nose. A few of us who had little sense were living normal but sincerely I was in abject poverty. I hard to play smart to make ends meet. I began the illegal business. Of course you know what I am talking about, ‘igbo’. Nevertheless, I wrote to my family from time to time just to raise their hopes that their miracle is on the way.

Countless times, I was beaten by fellow business men. Na there you go know say, people wey dey sell weed dey pay tax.Them go give you their business permit, if you no pay, you go smell am. Come trust me naa, no be Naija I from come, they go come collect money naa. How I go dey sell weed, wey no get shop, dey pay for permit? That one no dey happen for naija naa. I was beaten black and blue by corporate agboros in the business. Wetin man go do kwanu? Man must survive!I was also arrested for fighting and harassment but was luckily bailed by some nice Nigerian guys over there. But that wasn’t life at all.

Life was becoming miserable and frustrating too. I lost my anger on everyone. I lost my life. I lost everything. I thought I had better life in Nigeria than my life in Malaysia. Maybe I wasn’t prepared. Maybe I lacked the smartness I thought I had. Maybe I was visionless. Maybe I lacked it all. I became a WASTE! A real shadow of myself!!

Then, I was thrown off board in broad day light after I was arrested for the last time over there. It is not Nigeria where you have to keep bailing yourself over and over again. They had to conduct a check on me and they found out that I wasn’t a legal resident in their country. Just like that, I was deported like an unwanted good.

Please don’t ask how I came back, just know I was deported. It was then 2014. Five years of WASTE! I was frustrated, I wished I could kill myself. Then, I got home with shame. Before then, my family had sold their lands to see that their “smart”son made cool cash in Malaysia. The only land remaining is the one we were living in. I became a vagabond on the streets of my town. The memories of Malaysia kept flashing in my head. I thought of my gain and losses. Probably I would have been a graduate by then in Nigeria, if the money I squandered was put in my education. I would have “proudly” been a Nigerian graduate, having his endless search for employment. I guess that would have been better for me than wasted years.

Since I came back, fate hasn’t been fair to me. It is not all about running away from Nigeria to make money. One needs vision, guidance, hard work and perseverance. If you are on the verge of leaving Nigeria with the hope of picking money on the streets. I advise you, withdraw now!Nothing is free, even in Freetown. I do not wish to discourage you but always remember that there is no easy way of making it. My fellow Nigerian youths, be focused, do not stop struggling, God will bless your hustle.I have tasted it and I know what it feels like. This is my story, I do not wish anyone tell the story.

Life is not what we think it is. It sometimes boomerangs. What we do today, often comes back to us tomorrow. If you can’t survive in Nigeria, I bet you can’t survive anywhere. If Nigeria treats you hard, be harder. If it’s tough, be tougher. What matters is that, at the end you survived. You made it alive to be able to tell your own story!!!
Have a great week ahead pals!