Skip to main content

In Defense Of ‘Logistic Reasons’

I was born in Nnobi in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State. Nnobi shares its borders with five towns- Nnewi, Awka-Etiti, Nnokwa, Alor and Uke. My father’s compound is close to the border between Alor and Nnokwa.  We are a few yards away from the great gully erosion site that swallows homes year after year.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content1'); });

I was born in Nnobi in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State. Nnobi shares its borders with five towns- Nnewi, Awka-Etiti, Nnokwa, Alor and Uke. My father’s compound is close to the border between Alor and Nnokwa.  We are a few yards away from the great gully erosion site that swallows homes year after year.

If you have never heard of Nnobi, it is Nnewi’s fault. Many years ago, Nnobi stretched to what is today one-third of Nnewi. But Nnewi defeated Nnobi in a war and took over land that once belonged to Nnobi. Since then, Nnewi has overshadowed Nnobi. There was even a time when all letters coming to Nnobi came via Nnewi. What an insult! When you put a dot on a Nigerian map to represent Nnewi, you unintentionally cover up Nnobi.
But Nnobi deserves a higher billing. I’m not saying this because it is my hometown. Granted, Nnewi produced the former Biafran leader, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and some locally made auto spare parts. But Nnobi produced Major Humphrey Chukwuka, one of the five majors who planned the 1966 coup d’état. Chika Okpala, aka Chief Zebrudaya Okolo- Igwe Nwogbo, alias 4:30, is also from Nnobi. So is Dr. Edwin Madunagu, the last Nigerian socialist. Then there was Bishop Michael Nwaobi Amakaeze (Musa), whose church, the Holy Sabbath Mission, declared Nnobi a holy land. There is also the world renowned plastic surgeon, Dr. Ferdinand Ofodile. If you like, you can add, Otondo to the list. He was the audacious mobster who terrorized Onitsha area in the 70s and 80s, I was told. He was famous many years before Lawrence Anini and Monday Osunbor. And I have only named a few.
I first saw myself not at Nnobi, where I was born, but on the campus of Women’s Teachers College (St Monica’s) Ogbunike, near Ogbunike cave. It was the place where my father started teaching after he graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. At Ogbunike, we had a bungalow at the teachers’ quarters. It was a modern building with in door plumbing or what was called ‘water system’. The teachers’ training college was well designed with lawns that were cut periodically with mowers. The college had an Apian way that was lined with mango trees and pines. We were considered ‘expatriate children’ when we visited Nnobi.
I was about seven years old when we returned to Nnobi. Our home at Nnobi had no water system. We had a pit latrine. Compared to some families around us, ours was a modern latrine. It was built with cement walls and had an aluminum roof on top. It was not like our neighbors who had a horrendous pit fenced with palm fronds. Our latrine hole was not large enough to swallow kids, should they misstep. And if you looked inside, you wouldn’t see maggots swimming in the stools. Like everyone else, we had flies hovering around, producing a buzzing sound track while one answered nature’s call. But our flies were respectful. Unlike the flies you see in our neighbors’ latrines, that fly straight into your lips without any care, our flies know that the Daily Times newspapers lying on the floor could be used to smack them down. So they behaved while you were in there. I can not account for their behavior when nobody was in there.
As a kid, I had difficult understanding the striking difference between our world at Ogbunike and Nnobi. We still drank tea for breakfast but people around us ate foofoo and cold onugbu soup in the morning. We wore sandals or bathroom slippers when we went outside while our age mates walked around barefooted, even after repeated experiences with worms’ bites. In many ways, moving from Ogbunike to Nnobi was like crawling into the Ogbunike cave. Nobody delivered morning newspapers to us anymore. My father had to buy them from Afor Nnobi. And when the news was hot, like whenever the army executed a coup, he would drive up to Nnewi before he could get a newspaper. But the matter that was most troubling to me was the water situation. There was no borehole water coming into our house. My father built a large tank where rain water from our roof was collected and stored. It became our main source of water. We boiled the water if we needed to drink it.
The tank saved us from having to depend on wells dug into the ground that collected runoff water (flood water). Our neighbors used such water for cooking and bathing. They used alum, a coagulant, to treat it. During the dry season, when the water stored in our tank was finished, my father would pay for water to be delivered by a mobile tanker. It was such a luxury then. It saved us from using wheelbarrows to go to the town center, many miles away, to fetch water. Our other alternative was to go to the local stream, many miles away.
I remember one evening when both young and old men and women in our village suddenly started to run in all directions. People were carrying every plastic container they had with them and heading to the center of our village. I asked what was happening. I was told that borehole water was coming out at the entrance to Ezeani’s home. I did not know there were pipes laid on our side of the town. I had never noticed the pump. Though we did not need the water, I joined others at the pump. The line was long. And for 30 minutes, villagers fetched water. Those who got some water before it stopped running treated it as if it was holy water. They did not let a drop go waste. I was not one of the lucky ones. I returned home with my empty jerry can.
It never happened again for the rest of my life. But it opened my eyes to the fact that there was once a functional water works in Nnobi. It just didn’t work anymore. And I am sure that many kids growing up today in Nnobi had no idea that borehole water once flowed in the neighborhood.
The underground pipes must have rusted by now, just like everything else. As I grew older and beheld the bigger encroachment, the country called Nigeria, I saw the same pattern. I was told that the railroads I saw at places like Enugu were once plied by trains. People who lived in the North once travelled there by train. In fact, I was told that Queen Elizabeth once rode in a train when she visited Nigeria.
Though I was a kid, I sought answers to all the differences between Ogbunike and Nnobi. I did not get any answer that was satisfactory. When I grew older, adults began to use a particular explanation for all my questions: logistic reasons. It answered all questions.
I recently went home to bury my father. One of the places I visited was our Post Office. We have maintained P. O. Box 114, Nnobi, since the Post Office opened. I remember when I had to stand on my toes to be able to unlock the mailbox. I went back to the Post Office to check for mails. The only mails that come there now are mainly companies’ dividends. What I saw was an eye sore. A place that used to be busy with lines of customers and half a dozen customer service staff had only one staff - the post master. The post master sat on a bench outside, shirt unbuttoned, as he fanned himself with one hand and played cards with the other. The post office floor and counter were covered by layers of dust.
The post master was three classes ahead of me at High School. His father worked at the Post Office when we were young. I asked him what happened to our beloved Post Office where I received the first mails from my pen friends. It was a long story, he said. I pressed harder. I suggested how the Post Office could be transformed again to serve the people. He shook his head in great pity for me. When I asked why it could not be done, he blamed “logistic reasons.”
I thank God for logistic reasons. Otherwise, we’d be in the street advertizing our insanity. Logistic reason is a member, in good standing, of the ‘Nigerian Factor’ family. It is a shrine of the hopeless optimist. Together with other factors they create the environment where the fly without a counselor accompanies the corpse into the grave.
If you take away logistic reasons from Nigerians, we will all go insane. Everything makes sense in Nigeria if you do not think about it. And many of us are doing everything not to think about it. We have to blame somebody for our rut, our decay and our ‘death by installment.’ It better be the fault of some logistic reasons, than the fault of you and I.
And as we say in Nnobi, uchu gba kwa ha – may the curse be unto them. Not unto me. Not unto you. And of course, not unto our beloved logistic reasons.
Please correct me if I’m right.


googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('comments'); });

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content2'); });