The Mays of My Life
“The affairs of May are like the chameleon faeces into which I have stepped. When I clean, it cannot go.” – An adaptation of Kofi Awoonor’s Songs of Sorrow
A trite English saying has it that ‘what goes around, comes around’. This cycling, merry-go-round, or whatever you wish to term it, is evident in all months of the year. The year embarks on its journey from January and culminates in December and instead of enjoying a much needed rest, it goes back to January to run another lap of the race it ran in the previous year.
The above description captures the dread I have for the month of May. Every time May comes around on its customary annual visit, it brings to my mind many unpleasant memories.
May! If there is anything good about it in my life, perhaps it is my birth and those of my beautiful friends. My birth on the 15th of May 1992 coincided with the carnival of hate that is now known as the May 1992 Zango-Kataf riot. According to newspaper sources and living witnesses, the violence on that infamous day left 471 people killed, hundreds injured, and widespread destruction of property. As I would later learn, the violence started from Zango-Kataf where a good number of my family members and kinsmen were killed, and spread like a wildfire in Harmattan to other parts of Kaduna state, all the way down to my birthplace of Nariya.
I remember my mum telling me how we sought to take refuge in the local police station. With the running and confusion, I fell off her back as a newborn and was almost stepped on by the panicking crowd of refuge-seekers. My birth day – that riot – is now among a series of violent conflicts in the region, mainly between Christians and Muslims, which set the stage for a deeply segregated Northern Nigeria.
On the 22nd of May 2000, I lost my beloved father to yet another religious riot in our adopted village of Nariya to some religious extremists who attacked our village.
Again, it was in May that Nigeria lost Musa Yar’adua to the cold hands of Death after a protracted illness.
In its attempt to continue the trend, May separated me from my good friend Imoh Amanda Joy. Until her death as a result of complications in her health, she was a third year undergraduate of Mass Communications at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-iwoye, Ogun state. I dedicate this version of the article to her sweet memories. Adios Amanda!
It is quite unfortunate, but true that May, for me is characterized by hate and other unpleasant situations of life. In my next article, I will speak of love and tolerance on the one hand in contradistinction with hatred and intolerance on the other hand through a collection of my personal experiences, to reflect on the conditions of intolerance and its evil effects on society that I have seen grow in Nigeria, especially in the relatively peaceful and tolerant south-western part.
As simple and romantic as my stories and perspectives will attempt to be, I hope to touch on the good, the bad and the ugly of the subject. My stories range from my innocent love for Lauretta to my crushes on Alice, Endurance, and Sandra; from my international desire to live with a Scottish female, to my beloved Ruth — whom I have resolved in my mind to love “for life…, to the exclusion of all others. Take me too seriously in this regard at your own peril.
Elisha Godswill Gwanzwang