In the last couple of years, it hasn’t really felt like Christmas was in the air in November or even early December. This year, it’s even worse. The travails of 2020 have subdued many of us. Because we are just grateful to be alive, we aren’t too bothered about the yuletide or whether we’ll get to do our favourite things during that time. However, the realisation that the bills are no respecter of COVID-19 and other sundry challenges is enough to jolt us from the state of inertia if we ever dare to remain in it for too long.
Recently, the Lagos State government delivered the annual Land Use Charge notice to our residence. In previous years, the charge varied between N3,500 and N7,000 in previous years, However, in the year of the Lord 2020, someone thought it was a brilliant idea to increase the tax by more than 1,600%. Yes, you read right. We got a charge of over N113,000 as Land Use Charge when we do not live on a yacht.
If there’s any lesson to be learned from the events of the past week, it is that every individual must possess an appreciable level of fight in them. The cojones to say enough is enough, the willingness to risk it all if need be in pursuit of what they want. The gumption to speak up when it matters despite natural temperament. What will happen if you do not toe this path, you may ask. Well, you will most likely live a life of dissatisfaction as a result of your docility. And you may tell yourself that’s fine, but deep within…many years down the line, you will rue your cowardice.
I had a friend who thought I was a genius. Each time we were in a gathering and there was some knotty issue or a word everyone was struggling to understand, he would turn to me and announce that Lolade would have the answer. When it came to words, he saw me as a walking dictionary. I warned him that he would one day embarrass the both of us when I came up blank after one of his random “Lolade would know it” episodes. Thankfully, that never happened. But it could have because my friend couldn’t have been more wrong.
I had quite a few vulnerable moments during my university days. Days when I struggled to juggle the demands of school work and life outside of school. Days when I loathed hostel life and the idea of having a roommate because a girl just needs to be alone sometimes. There were many challenges, and of course, there were good times. But I can never forget that ONE time I was constipated.
I remember when I was a newbie driver some 12 years ago. I was excited; I was thrilled because finally, I could get into a car and move it on the road by myself. Without the help of a driving instructor or friend. My “learner vehicle” was an old, hitherto abandoned Mazda 626 which had to be retrieved from the mechanic’s workshop for my driving lessons. It was a car none of my siblings would touch with a long pole because it would “demarket” them. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to drive and anything on wheels was good enough.
From the moment she’s born, the odds are stacked against her. The prejudice is unending. Her life is defined by rule after rule. She’s to conduct herself with the piety of a nun. Even then, she’s an endangered species. Her body, an object of torment; her aspirations, subject to the uncertainties of treading a treacherous path. All because she’s female. Being female the world over, just like being black, is an extreme sport. It takes a miracle to go through the darts that life throws unscathed when the essence of who you are is considered a limiting factor.
The average Nigerian despises the rich. There’s a pervading belief that every well-off person is in some way responsible for the widespread poverty in the land. As a result, the masses do not care whether the wealthy inherited their fat pockets on account of a line up of affluent ancestors or as a product of some business hocus pocus. The consensus is if they aren’t gnashing their teeth to put food on the table like the majority, they must have shortchanged the rest of us to attain such status. It’s a no-win situation for the well-to-do.
Time was when we were swamped to our necks. If you stayed in any of the crazy cities of the world; the Lagos’ and Newyork’s and the Tokyo’s and the London’s, attributing every shortcoming to the lack of time was a genuine excuse. In Lagos where I live, it’s the norm to leave home as early as four in the morning and return as late as eleven at night, so yes, saying you didn’t have enough time on your hands to meet yet another deadline or take a look at your child’s homework was acceptable.
Enter COVID-19, the game-changer.
The entire world is in dire straits right now. The uncertainty is palpable and we are almost at the point of resignation to the possibility of darker days ahead. Like a meteorite, a hitherto unknown virus struck with the vengeance of a serial killer. From one country, the Coronavirus has spread its raging tentacles to more than 150. Asia, Europe, and Africa have felt the wrath of the unwanted guest and its unrelenting in its efforts to bring humanity to its knees.