Chasing the Dream
A Short Story by Uche Nworah
As Emeka waited for Bus 107 at the
Woolwich Crossway bus stop, his mobile phone rang; it
was Donna, his Jamaican–born shift supervisor on the
“Ee-meka, Where are you?” she barked at him in her usual
“Ee-meka, me no like this, ya understand me no like them
people them a - come late to work.”
“Donna, take it easy, I will soon be there”,
Emeka almost shouted back at her.
“Me no take nothin’ easy. Them trucks, them are waiting
to be loaded, me no allow them people to mess with my
“I’m almost there Donna, my bus came late”.
Emeka answered back.
“What ya mean them bus them come late, when you gonna be
“I’m only 5 minutes away Donna”. Emeka lied to her.
“If ya don’t come here immediately, me goin’ to sack you
Donna warned him finally.
By now Emeka was pissed off with Donna.
He was irritated at the way she pronounces his name, and
how she spoke to him as if he was her dog at home. Donna
had been like that ever since he started working at the
warehouse, she loathed Emeka and other Africans whom she
describes as ‘Them lazy Africans’.
“Stupid Jamaican bitch”,
Emeka muttered to himself the moment Donna got off the
“I don’t really blame you”, Emeka carried on
talking to himself. “If not for my stupidity, would
you have seen me in your fucking country, nor at your
bloody warehouse to talk to me like that?”
* * * * *
The year 2005 was a terrible year in
Ada Elechi’s life. She lost her job with Hallmark Bank
in Lagos, alongside many others. They were the victims
of the bank re-structuring and consolidation exercise
introduced by Charles Soludo, the Governor of Nigeria’s
Central Bank. Ada had thought that she could be
re-absorbed by the emerging stronger banks but things
hadn’t quite gone as she hoped.
She had attended several interviews but
kept being turned away because she had graduated from
Abia State University (ABSU), a state university in
south eastern Nigeria. Ada wondered why the new banks
were discriminating against graduates of state
During one of the interviews at Zenith
Bank, she had lost her usual cool and calculated
countenance, and had not wasted words in telling the
interview panel what she thought of their new
“This is really unfair; it is not as if the quality of
education we received at the state universities is
inferior to that provided by the federal universities.”
Ada had told the panel.
“You guys should open your eyes, all Nigerian
universities are in the same shit”,
Ada said as she stormed off. She had had enough, this
interview held at Zenith Bank’s Head Office building in
the Victoria Island area of Lagos was the fifth she was
attending that week and her patience had gradually worn
Although Ada needed a job, but things
hadn’t quite gotten so desperate yet for her; she has
some money left in her savings which she could live on
for a while. She also has her Honda Accord saloon car
which she bought while working with Hallmark bank. The
car was still in pretty good shape and could take her
around still. Although kids in her neighbourhood have
now taken to calling the car pure water, she
found it amusing because they had started out by calling
the car Honda Hala when she bough the car
initially. Perhaps the kids were trying to tell her that
it was time to buy a new car, since the model she owned
is as common in Lagos as pure water, water sold
in sachets all over Lagos. Ada also knew that if all
failed, she could always go back to her parents in
Abuja, but she wanted to make it on her own, and wasn’t
yet ready to pursue that angle yet.
was also happy that she had paid a 3 year rent for her
2-bedroom apartment in Festac town - Lagos from the
upfront payment she received from Hallmark bank. It is
traditional for Lagos landlords to demand 3 years rent
in advance. At the time, Ada had groaned and complained
but in retrospect, it wasn’t such a bad idea after all
she thought. At least, she has a roof over her head;
things could have been a lot worse for a single
unemployed girl like her in Lagos, as she would have
been an easy prey for Lagos randy men.
Just when Ada thought that things
couldn’t get any worse, she received the heart breaking
news that her parents had been killed in a car accident
along the Abuja-Lokoja expressway. Their vehicle had
collided with an oncoming luxury bus belonging to The
Young Shall Grow Motors Ltd while travelling to the
village to attend to some village matters. The police
report of the accident which was sent to Ada months
after the accident occurred had claimed that the luxury
bus driver had swerved on to the on-coming vehicle side
of the road, in an attempt to avoid a deep gash in the
middle of the road. The driver of the luxury bus was on
top speed and couldn’t complete the manoeuvre on time,
and dragged Ada’s parents’ Peugeot 604 saloon car
backwards, crushing both the car and its inhabitants.
Chief John Elechi, his wife Mrs Ifeoma Elechi and their
driver of over 15 fifteen years (Ignatius) all died at
the scene of the accident.
As the only child, Ada found herself
suddenly all alone. Taking care of the estate of her
late parents turned out to be a harrowing experience,
made more difficult by the evil men in Umueze, her
father’s village. During the burial ceremony, some of
them wondered aloud why she was not in the car with her
parents on the day of the accident. They wished she had
died with them so that they would take over her parents’
Ada despised the Igbo culture for being cruel to women.
She had heard about discrimination against widows in the
past, but she never believed that such could also be
meted out to surviving female daughters. Her parents had
shielded her from such realities and negative aspects of
the Igbo culture while they were alive, but now she was
facing these issues all by herself. Ada hoped that one
day; she would be in a position to set up a
non-governmental organisation (NGO), which would
campaign vigorously for the rights of widows and other
such victims of tradition in the Nigerian society.
When she was younger, Ada remembers her
mother telling her never to feel inadequate because she
was female, and the only child at that. Her father,
Chief Elechi, had also resisted several pressures from
relatives asking that he re-marry, in order to have a
male child who would carry on his lineage.
“Ada is the will of God, she will play the role of a
male and female child in my family”,
Chief Elechi had often told his
relatives whenever they raised the subject.
But now, with her loving parents gone,
Ada wondered what her fate would be. On several
occasions, she thought about taking her own life but
somehow, she found herself trusting in God’s promise
that He would take care of those who trust and believe
Ada had expected Emeka Nwosu, her long term boyfriend to
be at her parents’ burial to support her emotionally but
he wasn’t. Emeka claimed that he couldn’t get permission
from work to attend, but Ada had her own theory. She
felt that Emeka was securely in the iron claws of Amaka
Okolo, his colleague from the Nigerian Law School. Ada
had always suspected that Emeka was having an affair
with Amaka; the first daughter of the Minister for
Education, but Emeka denied it when Ada confronted him.
But still, her womanly instincts told her otherwise.
Ada and Emeka had their issues just like other couples;
she wanted reassurance from Emeka that she would be his
future wife. This was normal because she couldn’t see
what else a woman her age would be thinking about at
this stage in her life, especially in Nigeria. Emeka
would remind her whenever the issue came up, that 30
years was still a young age, and that she should take
things easy. Ada would have but she didn’t trust
Nigerian men that well to buy their promises on the face
value. Her friends in the office daily narrated their
tales of woe at the hands of Nigerian men, and she
didn’t want to be a victim.
had expected that the tragedy of her parents’ death
would at least bring them closer, but Emeka choosing to
stay away from the burial confirmed to Ada that she no
longer featured so much in his plans. Ada steeled her
heart and vowed to be strong, not only for herself but
for her late parents.
* * * * *
Emeka secretly proposed to Amaka and
subsequently left his job at GTBank to join Amaka in the
When Emeka arrived newly into the
United Kingdom, he lived in a one–bedroom flat on
Edgware road with Amaka, who was finishing off her MBA
at City University. Amaka had convinced Emeka to abandon
his bank job in Lagos and relocate to London with her.
Things had worked according to plan as Amaka had used
her father’s connections, though without Chief Rufus
Okolo’s direct involvement to procure visa and travel
tickets for Emeka.
But unknown to Emeka and Amaka, Chief Okolo was aware of
everything that had been going on between them. The
information had come to him through the State Security
Service (SSS) operatives attached to his office.
Emeka couldn’t believe his misfortune
the day Amaka told him that Chief Okolo had given her an
ultimatum; it was either she ended their relationship or
Amaka risked being disowned by her family. Chief Okolo
had investigated Emeka’s background and found out that
he was an Osu (outcast), and his tradition
forbade his daughter marrying an Osu.
* * * * *
The Nigerian general elections had seen
the emergence of different types of candidates. While
members of the old guard still featured prominently,
there were still some new kids on the block who appeared
to have good ideas that would move the society forward.
It was at a church Sunday service at
House on the Rock (HOTR), Ada’s local church in Lagos
that she met Dr. John Agbasi. Dr. Agbasi was also a
member of the church but was now campaigning for the
governorship seat in Aba state. He had just finished
speaking to the church congregation on his reasons for
going into politics, what his agenda are and how
Christians could help in the process of changing the
Nigerian society for the better.
During his speech, Dr. Agbasi had also
shared with the congregation his pain at the loss of his
wife (Martha) to breast cancer.
“My beloved brothers and sisters”, Dr Agbasi
called out at the congregation.
“We have our beautiful daughter Manuela; she is two
years old, but my only regret is that Martha is not
standing with me at the podium today to share our unique
vision for Nigeria and Aba state with you”. Dr Agbasi told them in a pained voice.
Although she was still consumed by the
anguish of what she suffered at the hands of her
father’s people, Ada felt shy to say anything during the
Questions and Answers session but suddenly, she
summoned enough courage and asked Dr Agbasi if he had it
in his plans to address the plight of widows and people
like her if he got elected. Ada then narrated her story
publicly for the first time.
Ada didn’t finishing telling her story before breaking
down into tears. For a few seconds, everyone remained
silent; people present in the auditorium could feel the
depth of her hurt and pain.
Ada and Dr. Agbasi got introduced formerly after the
church service. When Dr. Agbasi found out that Ada was
out of job, he instantly hired her and offered her a
position in the strategy unit of his campaign team.
Though a voluntary role, Dr Agbasi promised to take care
of Ada’s daily expenses in the course of carrying out
any duties assigned to her. For lack of any other
appealing options, Ada wholeheartedly accepted.
* * * * *
Dr. John Agbasi secured a landslide
victory as the first executive governor of the newly
created Aba state. One of his major acts within the
traditional ‘First 100 Days in Office’ was to marry Ada
in an event witnessed by the high and mighty in Nigeria
including the president of Nigeria.
subsequently became the first lady of Aba state and
pursued her Widows in Nigeria (W.I.N) pet project with
vigour. She attracted local and international media
attention everywhere she went.
* * * * *
As Emeka leafed through a copy of the
Metro newspaper which he picked up inside Bus 107, he
froze as he came to page 10; staring him in the face was
a picture of Ada and Dr. John Agbasi, flanked by the
British Prime Minister and his wife. They were on the
entourage of the Nigerian President on a state visit to
the United Kingdom. There was also mention of a proposed
audience with the Queen of England in the news story,
where Ada will brief the Queen on the activities of her
* * * * *
Only if he had been patient and
listened to his heart, Emeka told himself. Ada was the
love of his life but Amaka had offered him the hope of a
better life and higher status in the society.
Emeka was still cursing Amaka, who has
since gone back to Nigeria to pick up an appointment
with Chevron. Emeka believed that Amaka was responsible
for his pathetic immigrant life in London; he couldn’t
go back to Nigeria because he had no job waiting for him
there. Even his life in London appeared cursed as well,
without a resident permit; he was condemned to low-life
jobs like other immigrants like him. As he cursed Amaka
and his lot in life further, he vowed revenge against
When the bus pulled up in front of the
bus stop, opposite Asda warehouse in Leyton, Emeka
alighted and sprinted into the Asda compound. As he
swiped his card to be clocked in for the days shift,
Donna was waiting and followed him into the warehouse
still swearing and cursing.
* * * * *
***Emeka’s wickedly revenge will
be told in the next instalment.
"are you up to this"
by Chidi Okoye
Uche Nworah is freelance writer, lecturer and brand
strategist. He studied communications arts at the
University of Uyo, Nigeria and graduated with a second
class honours degree (upper division). He also holds an
M.Sc degree in marketing from the University of Nigeria,
Enugu campus and obtained his PGCE (post-graduate
certificate in education) from the University of
Greenwich where he is currently enrolled as a doctoral
candidate. His articles have been published by several
websites and leading Nigerian newspapers. He received
the ChickenBones Journalist of the Year award in 2006.
* * *
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The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World
By Daniel Yergin
Renowned energy authority Daniel Yergin continues the riveting story begun in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Prize, in this gripping account of the quest for the energy the world needs—and the power and riches that come with it. A master story teller as well as one of the world's great experts, Yergin proves that energy is truly the engine of global political and economic change, as well as central to the battle over climate change. From the jammed streets of Beijing, the shores of the Caspian Sea, and the conflicts in the Mideast, to Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley, Yergin takes us inside the decisions and choices that are shaping our future. Without understanding the realities of energy examined in The Quest, we may surrender our place at the helm of history. One of our great narrative writers, Yergin tells the inside stories—of the oil market, the rise of the "petrostate," the race to control the resources of the former Soviet empire, and the massive corporate mergers that transformed the oil landscape. He shows how the drama of oil—the struggle for access to it, the battle for control, the insecurity of supply, the consequences of its use, its impact on the global economy, and the geopolitics that dominate it—will continue to shape our world. He takes on the toughest questions—will we run out of oil, and are China and the United States destined to conflict over oil? Yergin also reveals the surprising and turbulent history of nuclear, coal, electricity, and natural gas. He investigates the "rebirth of renewables" —biofuels and wind, as well as solar energy, which venture capitalists are betting will be "the next big thing" for meeting the needs of a growing world economy. He makes clear why understanding this greening landscape and its future role are crucial.
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Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost
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The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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posted 5 June 2007