I used to love bottled groundnuts. Not anymore. I hands off a while ago. When I mean bottled groundnuts, I’m not referring to the ajebo type sold in Shoprite or Next Cash n’ Carry chain stores, no, I mean the roadside bottle groundnuts that are fried to perfection.
When you taste them, you are reminded of the dexterity of Mama Ebuka’s hand, swatting across different ends of the sand-filled frying pan. I am referring to the type that made a delightful crusty noise when it collapsed at the back end of your teeth. Yes, I stopped buying it. Because driving to work one day, I saw a dirt-merchant (for the lack of a better name) ransacking a large bin, frantically, and pilling up the bottles on one side.
The sight of it rattled my stomach. “How many of these bottles has he sold to Mama Ebuka whom I buy my groundnut from?” I asked myself. My stomach walls revolted instantly. Nigerians have no remorse poisoning you if there was money to be made. I still buy from Mama Ebuka, I just restrict myself to the ones she sells on the transparent nylon bags.
Look at the Coca-Cola EVA Bottled water, it is today one of the most bootlegged products. One now has to raise the bottle these days and observe the bottom of the bottle carefully to ensure they were not buying cholera. This is the inhumanity citizens suffer from those like them.
Earlier this year, a picture circulated online about an abattoir in Edo State. Only this place was worse than an abattoir. It was a shalanga. A shalanga is that pit toilet at the rear end of your boarding school, which you have to cease your breathe to use. That place was a mess of unimaginable proportions.
The cow parts were being dismantled in a gutter that looked like it was home to varieties of moss and decaying matters that have turned green. But trust Nigerians not to care. We live as though we have a special immune system, and are blunted to the pangs of diseases and sickness.
But go to the hospitals, they are overcrowded with the ill, the dying and the half-dead, some of whose problems are connected to the hygiene of the food they consume. Of course the politicians have failed to provide bodies that cater to the sanitary conditions of the farm and animal produce we eat, but it is our fellow citizens who would have made the decision to sell death to us.
These things make me despair as a citizen. An emotion, although not new to me, worries me in no small measure. As a Nigerian, you learn to hobble this despair with a hope, so faint and fragile, that it disappears when you come against the worst specie of your countrymen.
If politicians left the suffering in power 1. These people raised it to power 2. If some of them could read this, they surely would stop me in my tracks, to ask: Oga who this your preaching epp? Na today you start to dey live for this country?”
And then your despair graduates to fatalism.