Saturday 6 June 2020

Warri to Choba: A Journey of Life in Time

With fellow Corpers at Bonny in 1992

I was thinking this morning..... When last Sunday, my friend and former school mate wrote a beautiful piece titled 'The Road to Mogadishu' on our Hussey College Set of 86 WhatsApp Group chat, we were challenged to pen down our life's journey for the benefit of all. As I mused on the thousands of journeys I have embarked upon in life within and outside Nigeria, none came close to reflecting a portion of my life's journey like a journey I made from Warri to Choba in Port-Harcourt in 1992. It was during my NYSC programme when I was serving as a Biology teacher at Bonny National Grammer School (BNGS) on Bonny Island. I made frequent trips home to Warri despite the very parlous state of the road at that time. But this particular trip left an impression. Life is a journey. 

Though I was aware that the road was in a very bad shape, it wasn't difficult making the decision to embark on the journey confident that I will get to Choba before nightfall. That was exactly my mindset when I left Hussey College Warri ready to leave home for the first time for the University. I had no doubt whatsoever, that in this journey of life, I will be successful. Making the journey possible was not an easy one as sacrifices were made by my parents to raise the transport fare that will take me all the way to Bonny island. This mirrors my admission to Uniben in 1987 to study Microbiology. The joy of getting the admission was soon dampened by the lack of money for my school fees and upkeep. My parents did the only thing they know, sacrifice. I eventually set out to the University with two pairs of trousers and three shirts, because the school fees, like my transport fare to Choba, was all that mattered at the time. Life is journey. 

Back to the trip to Choba. We set out at about 9am with the journey between Warri and Ughelli being a smooth ride, reminding me of my first year at Uniben. As we journeyed towards Patani at the boundary between Delta and Bayelsa States, we encountered a diversion through one of the villages because a section of the road ahead had been cut off by flood. Juxtapose with my life's journey, this was my experience as I moved into the second year at Uniben. There was an opportunity for Science students that did well to transfer to Medical college. Since being a doctor had always been my childhood dream, I made the move from Microbiology to Medicine or should I say Macrobiology. After spending a month in medical school, we returned back to our departments when the transfer exercise failed. I soon realised it was a diversion. Life is a journey. 

My life progressed just like our journey to Choba. When we entered Bayelsa state, it was a chaotic scene around Sagbama. The road had been completely cut off with no alternative routes. Vehicles could not go across. Locals were carrying passengers on their backs through the flooded craters and muddy pits to join other vehicles at the other side of the road. Passengers in commercial vehicles where exchanged like currency transactions at a Bureau de change counter. This is a picture of how I survived my final year in 1991 and the 2 years I spent doing my MSc (1992 to 1994). My family had run into a financial roadblock after my dad had lost his job. It was a tough period that threatened the continuation of my education just like the crater at Bayelsa. Like the locals carrying passengers to the other side of the road, God sent a complete stranger my way who took me in and fed me for the rest of the stay in Uniben. The lifeline ensured that I continued on the journey of life.

We finally left Bayelsa going through the Mbiama bridge that separates Bayelsa and Rivers States. This is akin to how I completed my University education (BSc and MSc) and commenced my working career in 1995. The journey between Ahoada and Choba was mostly straight but with unsafe intersections with community roads and lots of police checkpoints that slowed down the journey. Navigating safely along this road until I got to my bus stop at Choba mirrors my journey in time between 1995 when I got my first job as a contractor personnel with SPDC and 2020, the year of rebooting and reflection. The details of that journey shall be subject of another of my musings.

Somewhere along that journey to Choba, in the midst of the chaos at Bayelsa, a miracle happened. While we were waiting to be carried to the other side of the road, we were tired, thirsty and unsure of what the rest of the journey holds. The villagers had set up small businesses selling cold water, edible worm and other snacks to weary passengers. While others munched, I watched because I couldn't afford it. Then came a helping hand who paid for me to enjoy with others, giving me a new lease of life. This was my experience a week after I left campus to commence my job search. I had walked into Word of Life Bible Church in December of 1994 unsure of what the future holds, but when the gift of life was offered me during the altar call, I accepted Christ that day and the path to my future became clear and assured. I was ordained a Pastor 14 years later in the same Port Harcourt that was the destination of this trip. Life is a journey. 

If I have learnt anything during this journey of my life (Warri to Choba), it is that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all (Ecclesiastes 9:11).

As the world reboots, we reflect. Life is a journey. 

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

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