My Journey as a Single Dad

In April 1997, I lost the love of my life; I was forced to cope with not only her death, but the death of my newborn son, it was a tragic Thursday in TransEkulu, in the coal city of Enugu. My name is Chinwuba Nchedo, I was fondly called Chuchu by my late wife. I was left with the responsibility of raising our 4-year-old daughter alone. After the shock of my wife’s death, I became aware that I knew nothing about raising a daughter by myself.

During the grieving process, I sometimes wondered if the wrong parent had died. “Mothers raise daughters. Fathers are supposed to financially support the family,” I often thought. I was brought up in a patriarchal Igbo family where mothers were the only nurturers. I grew up as an only son among five sisters. Now, I had to learn a new role, one I hadn’t anticipated.

My daughter’s greatest fear initially was being left alone. She had already lost her mother. She didn’t want to lose her father as well? Who would take care of her then?

On one occasion she announced, “Dad, I know what you can get me for my next birthday present, and it won’t cost you one naira. You can find me a new mum.” It was too soon for me to consider taking such a step, but her question helped me to understand the depth of her need. She was hurting and she was scared.

After the initial shock, denial and bargaining phases had run their courses; I went through lingering anger and depression then I started to put our lives back together. For the first few months I sucked at been a single parent.  I failed at every attempt to make a meal. I consecutively burnt our dinner until I got my youngest sister; Ndidi to come over fortnightly to help me out with cooking, shopping and cleaning of some sort. She was a student at Enugu State University of Science and Technology at the time. She was very helpful and supportive although she benefited largely from the gratuity she received.

I am an architect. I have a Master’s degree and have been working a professional job in my field for eleven-and-a-half years.  Although I was passionate about my career and loved my job at Fusion & Fealty, I knew I’d to be part of my daughter’s life. Not just providing for her, but being actively involved in her life as she grows. 

I worked for 48 hours a week, I often found myself torn. It was difficult to juggle work life and raising my little girl.  In August that same year, I resigned my job and started out my private practice. I had time to drop off and pick up my daughter from school.  I also took up cooking lessons from my sisters. My daughter and I did life together; doing dishes, tidying up, solving math sums and visiting fun places.  I became my daughter’s “go to person”. I encouraged her involvement in church activities so she would be spiritually grounded. I enrolled her in charm school and we joined a sport club in New Haven to foster her swimming and tennis skills.   

For regular exposure, we visited our home town Ezeagu. It is renowned for its undulating plateaus, rich cultural diversity and scenic views. My daughter always loved it there. Her favourite site is the 30 meter high waterfall in Ezeagu complex and the 3-kilometre cave, as well as the lake, the cold and warm spring. Ezeagu Tourist Complex is our perfect place for picnics and several leisure activities. I tried to be involved by balancing my work and caring for my daughter.

So many memories: her first real date, graduations, tennis games at the arena, the first formal dance, her first ball dress, visits to the saloon, learning how to ride a bike, her cultural dancing. These are memories I hold so dear. One of my fondest recollections was…

On a certain morning, my daughter was taking longer than usual to get ready for school and we were running late. I went up to her room.

“Knock, knock, sweetheart are you ok? “  I asked from behind the bathroom door.

“It is so weird dad; I think I am really sick. I am pooing blood. And my tummy badly hurts.  Am I going to die like mum?”

For a few seconds I was numb. I wanted to freak out but I had to stay calm.

“What part of your bum is bleeding hon?”  I asked.

“Is it the poo part or the pee part?”

“I guess it’s my pee bum,” she answered.

Ok, sweet heart. “Wash up nicely with water and soap. Then stuff toilet paper in the back of your pants and come out of the bathroom.”  I had an idea of what it could be.

She did as she was told. When she got out, I gave her a warm hug. I confirmed from her stained underwear that it was her first period. Then I began to explain the menstrual process to my little angel in my best way possible. I also reassured her she wasn’t dying. She was so happy and relieved even though her tummy did hurt. 

We drove to the pharmacy to get her sanitary towel and some pain relief for the cramping. While in the car, I answered several other questions and clarified her assumptions.  I was so excited I was part of my daughter’s big day and that I got to be there for her.

My daughter went on to joke that she deserved a treat like when her tooth falls out, so I decided to oblige her with the Igbo puberty celebration.

We skipped school for that day; I nipped to the market to get fresh scent leaves (Nchawun) and a life local fowl to be used for chicken soup. It was a meal offering for my daughter – celebrating her womanhood and her advancement into adolescence as it is in our Igbo tradition. I never missed an opportunity to teach my daughter our rich cultural heritage.

My daughter is 23 years old now. Like any parent, I didn’t know it would turn out this great, until it did. I learnt this: Ultimately, the best gift I could give my daughter was my time, my love and my encouragement. Daughters need their fathers; one doesn’t have to lose his wife to be an active dad.  

What’s behind the ‘Agbero’s’ Mask?

Mafoluko- Oshodi — Lasisi Banjoko, 21, appears to have spent his childhood awkwardly, as reflected by his many scars mostly straight lines around his upper arms from street fights. At age 16, he became an ‘Agbero‘, or area boy, in local slang.

Here in Lagos, a coastal city in West Africa of over 20 million inhabitants, which is said to be the economic nerve of West Africa and the fastest developing city in Africa, there are still thousands of teenagers eking out an existence on the busy streets of Lagos.

Lasisi Banjoko was only 11 when he left his village; Tetede – 30 miles from Lagos by himself; in search of a means of survival.

“My father married four women,” he said, speaking in Yoruba. “I have 20 brothers and sisters. My father was a civil servant. But when he retired, he did not receive his pension immediately. When I saw young people from my village coming back from Lagos with fancy cars and a lot of money . . .  I wanted to be like them.”

When I got to Lagos, my first job was as a bus conductor. I would canvass for passengers for commercial bus drivers at motor parks. At the end of the day I earned some money to eat and survive on the streets. Two years after, I joined the company of money collectors. We position ourselves at bus stops, imposing ridiculous levies on bus drivers, tricycles and motorcycle riders. We imposed levies such as: ‘Owó weekend, Owó loading,’ ‘Owó olopa,’ ‘Owó task force,’ ‘Owó organizing,’ ‘Owó traffic,’ ‘Owó environmental;’ to mention but a few.  We were fierce and feared. I loved it.  We were often under the influence of alcohol and drugs; we were always brutal to commercial bus conductors, who hesitate to part with money we demand. I was the most diligent as I delivered over N80, 000 daily to our egbons (seniors). I went home with at least N10, 000 for myself.

My head was turned by the glamour of my egbons (seniors) who worked closely with politicians. I desperately wanted to grow in the ranks; I wanted to be a senior too. I began to supply my seniors with daily herm wraps for their pleasure to enable them buy into me. I did this for close to two years on my daily earnings. Soon after, they grew to like me so I was promoted into the political thug team.

The money started rolling in and I enjoyed the lifestyle. I suppose we were in a gang, but to me they were my hood peps; I loved them.

Guns were readily available as part of our day-to-day life. We were young and foolish, and a silly accident was bound to happen. One day, my friend was playing around with a gun, aiming it at me as a joke. He assumed it wasn’t loaded but there was still a bullet in the chamber and when he pulled the trigger, I got shot in the head. I was terrified, as was he. I was rushed to hospital and the doctors discovered that the bullet had travelled only a few millimetres inside my skull – they thought that because it was from a replica air rifle, it hadn’t made the impact a bullet from a real gun would have done. Amazingly, I was absolutely fine. After 24 hours I was discharged, with the bullet still in there – removing it may cause nerve damage, so it will probably be there for the rest of my life.

At the time, it didn’t really bother me. In my world I often came into contact with danger especially during elections and inter-party clashes so I’d learned not to let it wash over me. I felt fine and within days I was back on the streets. Instead of seeing my gunshot wound as a warning about my precarious lifestyle, I chose to carry on as usual. I felt that I was living the high life. My parents were devote Muslims and were very shocked when they discovered what I’d been up to, but I didn’t give it a second thought.

With hindsight, I realised that the future held only two options for me: death or jail. Unfortunately, I couldn’t decide my fate. Aged 21, I was the leader of the city’s most notorious ‘Agbero‘ gang. We were political enforcers – a free-wheeling gang providing security for our candidate at public meetings or intimidating their opponents. Occasionally we burnt houses and fought with opposing political parties’ ‘agberos’. Few months to the state election; we were given a task to take out our governorship candidate’s opponent at his family home in Lekki Peninsula.

We arrived at his apartment masked and dressed in black. We had settled the police in the area heavily. There we stood, for a second; vacuous men so deeply wounded who had replaced a need for love with a lust for money and acceptance. We called it “respect,” but that given in fear can never be such. Respect is given to the loved; a cowering deference is given to the ones who take by force.

So we are nothing but youngsters bleeding behind stoic masks. Yes truthfully we are not as strong as you think. Our weakness was masqueraded by our aggression; in the sense that it announces the fear of loss of control.  I was really frightened by what awaited us. I remembered my grandpa’s favorite adage; “do not expect to be offered a chair when you bring a cutlass to your neighbour’s house.” Aggression is a fear-based response to an event. Nothing is weaker than operating from a base of fear. Monsters are weak.

I was raped, and I enjoyed it! Does that change his crime?

Yesterday was my first day in a company in Victoria Island. I felt uneasy, timid and shy around my new boss. It was extremely nerve racking, because I had distinct feeling that I’d been hired for my looks and slightly flirtatious nature. It wasn’t as if I didn’t have the qualification for the marketing position, but I’d found in the past that flirting a bit with a male boss could make the job much more enjoyable. Mr Adesola Albert- Adesanya, had been more than receptive to it, and by the time my interview was over and he offered me the position, I had the feeling that it wasn’t going to be a relationship of just professional exchanges.

When I walked in an hour early on my first day, I found out just how right I‘d been about that notion.  I guess it makes it kind of strange that the very first memory I have of my first day was how easy it was for Mr Albert  to get me undressed, compared to how long it had taken me to get ready. I was surprised he didn’t end up popping buttons off my blouse. Instead, he moved quickly and methodically as his tongue pushed past my lips and dipped into my mouth. He took no more time to get my pencil skirt off, unbuttoning and unzipping it before letting it pool at my feet as well. So there I was less than an hour and  a half  on the first day of my new job, and a my boss had me standing in nothing but my black lacy bra and my  tiny little panties I’d specifically worn to eliminate a panty-line. His mouth kept up with the aggressive kisses; an act I found awkward and I thought I wasn’t enjoying. Under the circumstances, I was somehow incredibly turned on.

Suddenly I was in front of a growing bulge in his pants. He forcefully grabbed my hand and placed my right palm on it. I was taken aback. I was terrified. I immediately pushed away; it was bigger in flesh than it had hidden in the fabric. I began to protest. He pushed my head into it; holding my neck tightly. I gasped, my mouth opened. And with my mouth open, he pulled me forward and his cock slammed past my lips. Slammed isn’t an exaggeration either, because he wasn’t gentle with it at all. He simply shoved himself in, sliding all the way back to my throat, and I gagged violently. I struggled consistently then he pulled me back a little to allow me to catch a breath before he jammed himself back in again. It was far rougher than I was used to, and I don’t know if it is because it was my boss that I ended up enjoying the way that he was taking control, but as much as I never would’ve expected to like what was happening. I did.

Every time he pushed forward, I gagged, and then he’d pull back and push forward again. It was a never- ending cycle of him holding my head firmly, making me gag, releasing me, holding me again, and making me gag again. And I knew he enjoyed my gagging because I felt his dick pulse against my tongue every time I did. I think under ordinary circumstances, I would have felt horribly used and objectified. Hell, I had an advanced degree in communications and marketing, yet here I was on my knees like some kind of paid hooker who had to fuck and suck her way to the top.

By all rights, I should have been pissed off about it, but instead I moaned and I sucked as best as I could under his assault on my throat, moaning like a ten kobo whore and feeling just as horny. He pushed his dick in; inch by inch relentlessly until my nose began to run and my eye teary. He held my head up and then released me. I fell back, gasping for any bit of air I could get. He smiled, and for some reason, his smile –though a little malicious and scary turned me on incredibly.

Finally he turned me around and shoved his enormous dick into my asshole. I knocked his phone right off his desk, but he didn’t slow down. I knocked the pencil cup he had on his desk over, scattering pens and paperclips all over the floor, and that didn’t slow him down either. I screamed. The invasion of my tightest and tiniest asshole brought so much pain and discomfort that I cried out. Finally he pulled his dick out of my poor little abused asshole.  He took a step back; as he reached for his shirt, I took the cue from him to redress myself. I scrabbled around the office, collecting my skirt and blouse from where they’d gotten kicked off to, throwing them back onto my body and trying to straighten them up presentably.

“So,” Mr Albert said finally as he smoothed his tie. He looked as if nothing had happened. His hair was still impeccably styled, his eyes calm, his clothing free from wrinkles and fuzz. I, on the other hand, felt completely ambivalent about what had just happened.

“I think you’re going to fit in here beautifully”

I lifted my eyes to his, and for the briefest of seconds, I saw a suggestive twinkle winking back at me. A small smile curled at the edge of my lips as I replied, “I agree, sir.”