it is called Point of No Return. It is an eerie place, somewhere in Badagry, Lagos. The white sandy path feels good on your bare feet if you are a tourist, but all those years ago, it was a path of death, a route to the land of shame and shackles, the road to an unknown dark land from which those who walked the path were never expected to return. It was the last route slaves bought and sold in Lagos were ferried to unknown destination with their one-way tickets to nothingness.
It was also called Gberefu and any potential slave who made it to must have already endured a lot, including the humiliation of being hawked at the Vlekete slave market in Badagry.
In 2003, I walked down the Point of No Return path as a tourist and an official on assignment from the Nigerian Tourist Development Corporation, NTDC. It was an experience I will never forget. That sandy path I can still feel even now on my feet and goose bumps on my skin, a decade and four years later. Though it was hundreds of years earlier when some of our forebears were shoved, beaten and flogged down the path to the slave ships at the port, our tour guide told the story with such passion that one could virtually hear the painful grunts and despondent groans of the slaves as they left life as they knew it into world unknown. Elders in their communities, heads of families, mothers, bewildered children in leg chains wept as they walked, tripped, stumbled down the difficult path . They knew they would not return. They had been betrayed by their own, the people they once went to the farm and market with. Many died of broken hearts and spirits and were buried along that path. Unmarked graves mostly but there were little sticks that Lagos state then had put in place to indicate some graves. I imagined them, not able to even look back. One day they were free men, fathers who told moonlight stories to their children in front of their homes, maidens whose waists were adorned with beads and the next, they were being treated worse than animals.
That was about 500 years ago.
Today, Nigerians are walking, not bare foot, but fully dressed, two eyes wide open into slavery. There are no white slave dealers in sight. We are doing it all on our own, this millennium slave trade. It is appalling. It is shameful. We are like a cursed nation, perpetually speeding down the road like drunken rabbits, from being a nation of 419ers, to cyber criminals and now slave trade. Perhaps we never recovered from the taste of evil cannibalism all this five centuries. We simply donned our designer suits and acquired foreign accents without really achieving civilization. Some of us are still too close to our ape ancestors to be dwelling among fully developed humans.
The mean descendants of apes are still selling teenagers into prostitution and hawking them online like cheap tobacco. They should be shot after accelerated trial.
Yes, Nigeria has seen better days and things are almost beyond bad. Sometimes one is not even sure we have an economy least of all one on his way to or from recession. The sad times have slapped us so hard and often that both our ears are now on one side of our head. But like Femi Adesina reminded me last week, no matter how tragic things become, a father will not pour libation to the spirit of his dead son!
Yet things are so bad Nigerians are crossing the desert to look for greener pastures. Very ironic, isn’t it? All the greenery needed is here in our rain forests and great seasons, not in the desert. So why are our young ones not seeing opportunities in Nigeria? Why do they think Libya is better than Nigeria? Why do they prefer the physical and spiritual coldness of unfriendly nations to the warm and supportive big village called Nigeria? Why are so many of our young ones wearing green-tinted glasses?
Are you following the Libya-returnee stories? Are you counting the number of fatherless Libyan babies our girls have brought forth and back to us in pain? The stories of rape, ransom and dehumanization of Nigerians in these desert countries?
Sure, you can conclude in anger that Nigeria has nothing left to be proud of. I’m angry too. I feel you but no matter how pissed a man is with his head, he will not wear his cap on his buttocks. If Nigeria were a man, some of us would put a bullet through its head first and consider the consequences later. Our children go to ill-equipped school, graduate with ill-equipped degrees and are thrown into the abyss that our labour market is. Confounded, confused, angry, they create highways in their heads to all kinds of places. They create their own ‘Points of No Return’, resorting to shady deals and unrealistic short cuts.
Stanley Iduh, one of the returnees said he sold the house left by his late father before travelling to Libya.
“It was because I was jobless for three years that I was cajoled to travel abroad to look for greener pasture.I am back in the country after eight months, devastated and humiliated. Here I am today; I have brought nothing green back home,” he said with tears running down in his cheeks.
I don’t want to regale you with the stories of what sick Libyan apes did to our women. They shot our men, beat them and buried them alive too. In the desert. It is all so heart-rending.
Who will tell our young ones that patience is still a virtue and that no matter how long your legs are, you cannot touch the sky? Who will tell them that the only thing you build from the top is a grave? Is it not possible to start a business with N500,000? Why journey through the desert with proceeds of sale of a house? This Italian business with all the voodoo and juju dangers involved, has it produced millionaires from Edo or any state for that matter? Why do parents still push their children into it?
Again, I’m kicking the ball back into the parents’courts.Let us help our children see the opportunities around them, from farming to photography, transport to furniture making. Let us support them to start something on their own. Let us tell them about reality of sneaking into Europe or America without valid documents. Selling everything to embark on a journey to Point of No Return out of desperation only leads to nowhere or at best the slaves’dungeon.
Re: Before you call the wedding planner
I have read this piece three times. It’s as if I wrote it. You just spoke my mind. I agree 100% with the views canvassed and forwarded to many contacts even by email. Brilliant article, bold and forthright. You just can’t stop reading it over and over. God bless your pen and your fertile brain. Have a pleasurable weekend. My President. –Akogun Tola Adeniyi
This article of yours had gone viral on social media. It’s quite apt and timely. People who have been sending it to me did not even know we are close. The latest I received this early morning came from a family affairs department of RCCG. Keep up the good work, I’m very proud of you. –Femi Abulude
I love this. It really inspired me. The Lord will continue to enrich you in wisdom. –Joke
Nice piece, very frank. God will help us. More power to your pen. You are doing a good job. God bless you. I’ve received this article from more than ten people today. You are a voice.
Beautiful and insightful article.
Well done sis! Was going to ignore it until I saw your by-line –Anne Palmer-Ikuku
It is a great piece…
You sound so much like a preacher woman! –Delowo
Wonderful piece. –CP Leye Oyebade
Good morning. Your piece, BEFORE YOU CALL THE WEDDING PLANNER, is trending. I’ve received it on at least five platforms. Points well marshalled. –Lanre Idowu
Most of these young ones have what you call acquired violence:from peer group, Social media, TV series on killing spouses etc. How do you handle that?
When I was a teenager, a friend of a friend of mine stabbed her boyfriend to death in their apartment in Russia ( I think). There was no social media to give it publicity. The social media brings everything into the lime light and magnifies it.
We should continue praying for our children because there are so many challenges within Marriage that no amount of “To do list” can resolve. God help us. –Morayo
Just to let you know that I read your post on the marriage of our children and I wish to thank you for it. As usual, it was spot on. I wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year!
–Admiral Itunu Hotonu (Rtd)