His name is Joe. He is an eleven-or-so year old boy. He is from Bayelsa. My name is Kiite, a medical student. I am about double of Emmanuel’s age. My place is in Ogun, far from Bayelsa. Sure, you would agree that many things could have brought us together despite the differences but would you have thought of this…
First time I saw him, I did not think of it too. I thought he was the owner’s son. His mien was such a joyous one. He was all over the place laughing with everyone, you’d think he was really the owner’s son just helping out until you notice he never sat down between parking plates and cleaning tables. And no one ever asked him if he had eaten. You’d find out again that he was always there no matter the time of the day. Whether it was school time or not, so long as the cafeteria was open, he’d be there like a roster. When we spoke, I asked if he had any dream; he replied, he wants to become a doctor like me. Yet, he does not even remember what class he was before he dropped out of school in Bayelsa not to talk of the books he read. He only remembers being chased away for not paying the school fees. His father had many wives and children. ‘Even the tishas sef don tire to dey chase us comot’, he said.
When I told him he had to go to school to become like me, he says he’ll return to school when school resumes in September. I laughed because I knew he had been here more than 2 Septembers ago and school resumed as well then. When he asked why i laughed, that couldn’t he become a doctor? I shook my head and said yes, if only his September dream could be real…
My dream is to make such dreams as Joe’s real for our young generation. What most of them have as inheritance like Joe is a fatherland with many wives, and debts it cannot repay. Their testimonies is of how they were turned down from their claim to the heritage of sound education, standard health care amongst other social and cultural amenities they deserve as true sons of the soil. Most times, they live on happily unaware of what they have lost or should have gained; but soon the eleven year-or-so old boy grows into a man and now develops the brazen zeal and sense of purpose to make it in life at all costs even though his society has not equipped him in anyway. He tries to find a way, picks up his own tools- stealing, nepotism, bribery, corruption, negligence, impunity- and soon the Nigerian factor sets in. This is the vicious cycle that has added ‘sleeping’ to our ‘giant of Africa’, that has kept countless children on the streets, sold young girls into prostitution and child slavery. This is the vicious cycle that has made good and quality education unaffordable rather than of unavoidable, the cycle that has turned common primary health care into an exorbitant luxury and access to social amenities ‘a gluttonous desire’. In short, it is the cycle that has turned ours into a hell of a country to be.
What do we do?
Nigerians have looked up, walked up, written up, cried up, cursed up, prayed up, and protested against up because they believed the power for the change was up. Yet, this power belongs even to us the seemingly powerless. In 1948, a group of young people gathered themselves together in small groups reading literature, living in truth and leading parallel lives different from what obtained an oppressive, repressive communist USSR at the time. Despite all crude and desperate attempts by the USSR troop to crush them, by November 1989,the few intellectuals had swollen in number to include members from all strata of the society; the protests increased and in what was referred to as the ‘Velvet Revolution’, Czech Republic gained its independence with Vaclav Havel as President.
In Nigeria, yes we have gained independence since 1960 but the prison break from modern day oppression from our leaders and ourselves too(corruption cuts across the social strata) is a lawful and needed one.
It is time to look down to ourselves and not up for our restoration. We have a power even as powerless masses to change our destinies. We can come together with our different tongues, fields, and beliefs to lead parallel lives and act as a force majeure for good. Martin Luther King said ‘injustice is precipitated not only by the vitriolic actions of the wicked but by the vituperative inactions of the good’
How do we do it?
Our basic tenets are History ,Culture, Leadership training and Character Moulding, Self development and Talent building. This model is not in form of a typical specialised NGO focusing on an aspect of life but rather a community-based idea where people come together to live lives that are parallel to what obtains in their community and therefore make a change. Those who are keen on education amongst them will ensure the likes of Joe get quality education( through Parallel intramural or extramural lessons, Parallel scholarships , the Parallel Library (a projected homely and well-stocked library of cultural and academic values),those who are interested in health- young doctors, health professionals amongst others will serve to see ( through voluntarism at community health centers, subsidies at partner private clinics, amongst others ) that the best of health care is given. Other social structures like cooperative societies are also engineered for self-empowerment. Joe is also told the history of his past,he is exposed to his culture and that of his nearest brothers and learns to appreciate and analyse them. Then, we teach ourselves first hand and learn the importance of values of honesty, integrity, patriotism, altruism and for ourselves and our country. These are the new tools young Joe would pick up as he grows into a Parallel Nigerian. Joe will get sound education, and when he graduates and heads a government parastatal, the virtuous Joe will rather forfeit his position than take bribe. And like our oral folk tales ,these virtues will be sung to the children from his loins. As more and more people choose to live the Parallel way, the parallel community soon becomes the real community and the parallel values, our national anthem .Our mission which is eventually to build the seemingly minority of good and powerless Nigerians into a Powerful Parallel begins to unfold.
A few efforts have been made but not enough to count yet .If we do not give up, i know the dream for our country like the September dream can be made real .All are welcome.You could contribute towards Education- via sponsoring of school fees and textbooks ,replacement of uniforms, donation of books (New and old) for our Parallel library which though still very small is getting bigger, donation of land on which to build our Library of Learning and Culture).We need amenities-clothes ,food and utilities for our young friends and many other aspects of life in the community. Regarding health, there is an awareness programme we anchor on radio where pertinent health issues, modes of prevention and management measures are discussed.
We are also about starting a co-operative credit society amongst women in a community because we realise what inestimable contribution an empowered mother can make in the life of her children. We are in dire need of funds for this. Yet, you may not find what tugs at your heart in all of the above, maybe you are burdened about other issues specifically in your community. Let us know and we will come join you and partner as fellow parallels towards change.The belief is that by creation and growth of a PARALLEL economic, cultural, educational, and even political structures, we can transform an ‘abstract moral attitude’ into a unifying factor and source of dynamism which would thus have a field of activity and a positive goal
We have no name!
Parallels is not an organisation searching for name, fame, recognition or huge grants from foreign bodies, rather, a simple community of people within a community seeking to do and set things right, influencing younger generations to become the kind of leaders we need. The scope may seem rather large but that is because a lawyer will find it easier to solve a financial problem than a doctor and vice versa. So, the import is to allow each man to solve the social challenges that directly confronts him or her in the unity of oneness in training and character.
…’send a man the way he wishes to go and you would see him at his fastest’- African Proverb
This is my dream for a a prison break that is lawful better Nigeria join me fellow countrymen to build Parallels-a nation that must move forward, a people that must live, a heritage that we must keep even for generations unborn. Together, I am sure we would move at our fastest.
The Power of the Powerless ,Vaclav Havel et al by ME SHARP,INC(PG 11)
“Václav Havel.” Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.
©2014, Alabi AimPurpose IfeOluwa
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