Notice: We want strangers

notice: we want strangers. picture of an nysc corper making a salute in full glare of the sun

In Another Man’s Land (Episode 4)

Faith is a class teacher at the school where you work. Tall, huge and dark-complexioned, she looked like she could farm. Farm work and class teaching were hardly similar. One had ignorant people look at you like you ate humus for dinner, the other had people call you aunty because your reward is in heaven.

Since your first week at the school, Aunty Faith invited you to her house. She wanted to show off her Kopa friend. And the introvert in you who was always ready to be adopted eventually gave in, after she repeatedly visited your class to gist with you during break time. And most of the time, it was to invite you to her home.

“Where you live with your parents?”

Ehn ehn now,”


You had asked the question because you wondered what the scenario would be. Even your closest friends from the past were only known to your parents through pictures and social media, like when you pointed at Bolaji, a fellow university fresher, as your friend. The one time you’ll have no choice but to take a friend home is when you have to introduce the “one” to them. Now, you were the one to be introduced and there was no tutorial on how to behave.

As you pulled Aunty Faith into a warm embrace on that Friday morning, and whispered into her ears, “I’m coming to your house today”, and like Zacchaeus when Jesus had said the same thing, her pupils widened in excitement.

By the close of the school hours, several pairs of eyes followed you two as you walked the shortcuts in the market to the main road. They saw a Kopa with a Tiv native and could not hide their curiosity at such a pairing.  You had not had anything in your stomach since morning, so you were looking out for women who sold thick and warm, or cold and thin soya milk in coolers, but the corners Aunty Faith took you through had no such women.

As you crossed the main road to a street leading to the outskirts of the town, you thought of taking back your promise, because your head was beginning to ache. Aunty Faith whipped out her Nokia phone and spoke to someone on the phone in the Tiv language. It was a short but purposeful call.

In another man's land. Image of a male corper making a salute.
AI-generated Image for In Another Man’s Land

Just a week ago, the local government chairman in that local government was kidnapped and was still in the kidnapper’s den. You just realized that you were taking a big risk that your NYSC khaki might be unable to save you from. And it was then you started thinking if you could make up an excuse to escape following her home.

You got to a place where she said she normally would trek but because of the sun, she sometimes took a bike. As you waited with her under the sun for a tricycle because you never took bikes, your heart pounded hard, and you started searching your spirit if it was wise to follow someone you barely knew home. You had to break your no-bike rule since no tricycle would come. A delighted bike man carried you, the Kopa got sandwiched between him and Aunty Faith through the untarred road to a place away from the bustling town.

On the bike, your heart kept pounding. You had wanted a little bit of adventure and this was it. Everything happening looked like a pre-kidnap situation. Aunty Faith was no longer talking to you on the bike and she felt a little bigger from where she sat behind you in the little space you shared with the bike rider. You swallowed hurriedly, getting adrenaline ready just in case, while rehearsing Psalm 23 in your head as the bike jetted through the woods. The few painted buildings, large churches and schools with iron roofs gave way to the forest, and you began to see thick-trunked trees with lush green canopies. And if you looked beneath them, you would see thatch-roofed round huts.

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