If you live around the Anthony Village/Mende axis of Lagos State, you must have come across this guy called ‘Emmanuel Chicken.’
That’s what I saved his name as on my phone, anyway.
He is a very lively young man whose joy is infectious as he sells, kills and guts chicken for several customers by the side of the road called Bush Street.
He looks like your everyday Joe but Emmanuel Annand is different.
He has a dream; a dream so big it’s the only thing that’s keeping him awake in the dead of night.
Emmanuel who hails from Anambra State, came to Lagos some 10 years ago.
And like many Lagos stories, Emmanuel soon discovered that the city of dreams can become, for some, the city of nightmares.
He quickly found himself without bed or board among the living.
So, what did Emmanuel do?
He found a spot to lay his head among the dead.
He slept for months at the grave yard.
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“At Atan, that place by the university,” he said brazenly, enjoying the look of shock on my face.
I shrank away from him. In these days of spirits parading the streets of Lagos, who knows if this one is a real human being, I thought.
But Emmanuel didn’t let the dead kill his dreams, instead, he told me;
“I kept dreaming of killing chickens and I will wake up and say, how can I, a graduate, be killing chicken for a living?”
My brows shot up.
You, a graduate?
“Yes,” he said, as he dipped his soiled fingers into his blood caked shirt, brown from months of spilled chicken blood and guts.
I peered into the faded Oko Polytechnic student’s ID card he flashed in my face.
So why were you dreaming of chickens? Why not a corporate job since you studied Business Admin?
He must have been used to this line of question and didn’t even miss a beat as he chopped my chicken into bits.
“I tried that one for some time but it didn’t work,” he fired back.
He’d worked in a construction company that has since gone bankrupt and after working without a salary for three years, he quit the job and decided to start selling chicken for a living.
“I said, maybe this is what God wants me to do after all,” he told me.
His business consists of two wire mesh bird cages for his chickens with name and phone number scrawled crudely on a piece of cardboard.
He said while he wouldn’t exactly call it a thriving business, it has kept a roof over his head and provided him a means to cater for his wife and three children comfortably in a two bedroom apartment at Medina Estate, Gbagada.
My brows shot up again.
He understood my meaning.
“Yes, auntie, no more after the third one o. We don try!”
I like Emmanuel and I support his hustle.
His type give me hope for Nigeria!
Whereas some of his mates are out there forming ‘deaf and dumb’ on the streets of Lagos or looking to relatives for hand-me-downs, he is up and calling customers on foot and in their cars to stop by and buy his grilled chicken.
So is this the end of your big dreams?
“No” he said.
“I want to be a Councilor and that is only the beginning.”
E bi like say I will stop liking this boy o, I thought to myself.
“Look at all the yeye things happening in the neighbourhood. We need good inter- street roads, good drainage systems, etc.
I will work to provide for people in my area,” he said.
Again my brows shot up; while I agreed he had a point, I thought, this boy is foolish o.
‘Do you know Bola Tinubu?’
“Do you know any big wig politician?’
“So how do you want to be a councilor in Nigeria?”
He laughed and told me not to worry.
I clicked my tongue the way my grandma taught me.
You’ll get into politics and get distracted. Isn’t that the same promise all these APC and PDP people have been promising since 1999?
Where are the roads? Where are the schools, the hospitals, the promises of good governance and accountability?
Biko gimme ma chicken; I’m not playing with you again!