This is the 2nd part of the 10 part series and it is by Dera Kennedy Igwe
I drove home to my house in Lekki from our family house in Ikeja where my mum was staying. My mum was staying with Mbamalu in that large house. The only thing that remained after my dad passed on. As an only child, I had to stay away from trouble and be in safety.
This time I had reached my apartment. Picked a few things, my phone rang endlessly but I won’t pick. I won’t, for security reasons. I called up my trusted friend Alli Indimi, for him to arrange a way for me to leave the country quick. Alli smuggled me through checkpoints in the boot of his 2027 Honda Asphalt GX and in a couple of hours I am in Benin republic. We past the Seme border. He dropped me off at his friend’s place, an immigration official.
“Tony, this is the best I can do for you. Take this; it’s just roughly $1,000. It should go a long way. My friend will arrange for a passport and put you on a plane to the US. You will be safe there”.
“Thanks Alli. I appreciate” I said… with tears in my eyes. I knew it won’t be long and I will be out of the continent and in The Americas.
It’s the day after two days I got to Benin Republic and I am on a flight bound to New York.
Back home, I knew a lot had gone wrong. My colleagues will be charged with treason and disturbing the peace and here I am, running away from what as a leader I should suffer for the rest of the pack. For once I felt like a coward, I felt powerless, I felt bad, terribly bad for what I decided to do. How can I exile myself and leave my team to suffer what I brought them into?
By now I was done thinking.
Arriving America was a relief for me. New York was the city of lights, I thought. We touched down JFK Airport at about 8:15pm; I didn’t have a chauffeur waiting for me, neither did I have relations waiting to scream with joy and embrace me. I flew economy class, and my legs were feeling numb. I was jetlagged. I felt so tired that I couldn’t do some stuff I wanted to do immediately I got down to New York.
I needed to shower and have deserved rest, call Alli to let him know I arrived safely indeed, call Mba to speak to him and mama and let them know I am safe where I am, at least for the while I am unknown on these lands and also see if I can get a word across to the unfortunate 7, the ones I cowardly left behind to suffer what I pioneered.
Chinatown was a good place.
Time Square was Breath-taking.
Soho was interesting.
The Greenwich Village was yet another lovely hangout.
Central park was a sight to behold. Wall Street and Mid-Manhattan was the busily bustle and the upper-eastside was luxurious. I was staying in a small hotel in 7th Avenue where I pay $30 for a night. I eat at the McDonalds that is just stone’s throw away and it’s quite interesting to sit and watch people come in and go out, seeing people of different races. Starbucks had wonderful latte; I drank it every morning for a week.
By now I had got in contact with my friend Alli Indimi who told me that my team members had been arraigned in court and the trial was ongoing, and of course the hunt for me had intensified. He urged, “Tony, the best thing is to make your case known to the United Nations Human Rights Agency or the US government, let them see if they can grant you asylum or even plead your case in The Hague or something. The case is becoming a national one and if the international community is involved you have my bet that you all will get off the hook and even achieve the whole enough is enough thing”.
Alli kept speaking and giving advices and suggestions on what I should do, to save myself and the rest of the team. Oh!!!! Arinola! The only female member of the team and all the sufferings she is going through.
Arinola was a thoroughbred silver spoon child. She received the best of education, valedictorian at St Mary’s in London and graduating summa cum laude in Public Administration from Stanford. She was the intelligent type and got interested in being a part of the team when she visited an old friend of hers who incidentally was my school mate in UNN. Her parents were wealthy civilians who weren’t heavily connected with the military government of the time. They just carried out with their businesses privately and personally with no government involvement, so they didn’t have the influence to let their daughter walk from all the charges.
I knew I had to act, and it had to be fast. This was my time to prove to people that my eloping was for good, to yield better results. That night, I couldn’t sleep, I kept thinking about what Alli said, what my mum didn’t say and what my team was going through in my absence. The guilt of the little enjoyment that I was benefiting here in the US haunted me.
The next morning I was on the 6, heading to the UN Plaza.
The story continues…
Dera Kennedy Igwe is a Mass Communication Undergraduate Student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He has worked with The Guardian’s Health and Science Desk and also Redstrat Communications The Future Awards 2010. Former Chairman, Editorial Board of Drumline (a campus-based publication). He is Principal Consultant at FUELEDBYDera, a multi-management organization, registered under Kendera Nigeria Limited (former Commercial Managers to Na Wa O! Comedy show with MC Erem on UNN’s Lion FM 91.1 and Drumline). In 2010, He was nominee for the Most Creative Youth Category at the Peak Awards 2010 for his contributions at Drumline.