The unsung Nigerian heroes

The unsung Nigerian heroes

December 17
08:52 2020

Looking for the real Nigerian hero? You don’t need to go far. They are all around us. They are there in our communities. In the streets. In the market places. The true Nigerian heroes are ordinary Nigerian citizens who are passionate about what they do and are committed to protecting whatever puts food on the table. Significantly, it is their collective efforts that contribute to making Nigeria truly great.  They work hard, selflessly, sacrificially but with dignity. Some of them commute hundreds of kilometres just to squeeze a living. Sadly, it is not so often that they are adequately acknowledged.

This Friday, December 18, 2020; it was fortuitous to see two sets of my idea of Nigerian heroes meet in the course of duty. A journalist on his way to work got fascinated by the artistry of some of the sweepers whose efforts make Abuja clean. Their sense of commitment caught the attention of this man who, himself, must be creative and has passion for human interest stories.

As he parked his car by the Shehu Shagari Way, behind CAC, towards NICON HILTON and I sighted a micro tripod and some other media equipment, my interest was aroused. So I walked a little distance away to observe what he wanted to do. He walked to the one of the ladies sweeping the road and talked with her, apparently introducing himself and getting her consent to interview her.

Across the road, another of the lady sweepers, not sure of what was going on with her colleague, wanted to protest. That was when I came in. I assuaged her fear and told her the man seems to be a journalist who may be interested in their work and would want to tell their story. I advised her to invite him over to where she was so she could validate the man’s mission.

When the man came he introduced himself as working for Deutwelle media and told them how fascinated he is with the dexterity of the female sweepers so he decided to film and tell the story. He said he was on his way to his office when the way the sweepers plied their trade caught his fancy.

The first lady sweeper said she agreed to speak with him because she thought he was one of their bosses. “We don’t know our bosses. We just work like this daily every day, no leave, no holiday but on the same salary that is not up to minimum wage”, she said.

The women and young men who clean Abuja are a daily spectacle. You find them all around sweeping the streets of the city centre and high brow neighbourhoods of Federal Capital Territory.   They travel very long distances just to make sure they arrive their duty posts from about 5.00am. Most of them live at the outskirts of the FCT in places as far as Mararaba, Gwagwalada, Kubwa and other satellite villages and towns where accommodation is not as prohibitive as the places they come to sweep.

It was transfixing seeing my Nigerian heroes, the street sweepers and a journalist, engage in this rare interrelationship of labour and passionately so. These are truly the people who make a difference in our collective history but who, regrettably, are not often acknowledged. It was really a proud moment for me. This is the real Nigeria I grew up knowing. The journalist eventually revealed his name as Uwais of Deutsche Welle.

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kammonke

kammonke

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