On The Top of Udi Hills; …A Fictional Story of The Man Maurice Emeka Akueme
~ By Izu MacBenson
The cock have just crowed ushering in the breaking of the day after what seemed like a long night.
It was about 5:00 am on Monday morning. From far, you could see “flashes” of lights as people had began to say their usual morning prayers.
Of course, Africans don’t joke with their God. It has been an aged long tradition to always pray and commit the day into God’s hands before setting out to perform the activities of the day.
This religious beliefs has been so helpful and people don’t joke with it. As same as every other day, it always starts with praises and worship.
Children usually lead in praises to keep them awake while the elders say the prayers.
The day is fast broken and the daily activities has begun. Everyone have started preparing for the business of the day. Students preparing for school. Business men and women jetting out to their various business premises, civil servants has all set out to work.
On the top of UDI hills, a beautiful hill endowed with serenity, covered with the best of green vegetations. The only hill in the South Eastern part of Nigeria that made it to the world geography.
Beneath the hill is a popular 9th mile corner where people go to “hustle”. Women, young people, men goes out to earn a living.
Ifeoma, a pretty intelligent student of the community secondary school is almost at the verge of missing out in her education completely because of her poor background.
That morning, Ifeoma has already gone to the kitchen to “put water on the fire”.
Usually, as it has always been her routine, she wakes up early to help her mother prepare Okpa which will be sold at 9th mile. They do this every day including Sundays.
For 5 weekly academic days, Ifeoma only attend school twice. The remaining are set out to help her mum prepare and sell okpa at 9th mile.
There are many of her likes in different communities who couldn’t afford education.
For Ifeoma, the proceeds are used to pay school fees for her and her younger siblings, their feedings and other family needs. Things became so bad after her dad died.
Ifeoma’s hope for education looks very bickering and at the verge of total stoppage. She was gradually loosing interest in education, yet, she never spare to use every little opportunity she have to read. Even when she’s selling Okpa, she would sneak to a corner to read her books.
“TIfeoma” her mum called from the room.
“Yes mom” answering her while using her mouth to blow the local firewood.
“Bia, go and buy pepper at mama Nkechi’s house… I forgott to buy while returning from 9th mile yesterday. Be fast!”
Ifeoma quickly left to buy the pepper. While on her way, she met her friend Onyinye. Onyinye has already prepared waiting for Chinaza to join her..
Onyinye… Called Ifeoma
Ify, are you not going to school, we are writing test today ooo; said Onyinye.
I know. I will tell my mummy to allow me go to school today for the test. You know I am supposed to follow my mum to market today replied Ifeoma.
She immediately hastened her pace. When she got home. She told her mum.
Ifeoma, test or no test, we are going to the market. Tomorrow, you will ask me for textbook, school fees and food. Missing one test is not bad. Angrily replied her mum.
Ifeoma began to cry. You could notice signs of deep seated pains.
In few hours, the okpa was done. Her mum had arranged everything. She was already in the bathroom when uncle Oshie came in to buy Okpa.
Why are you crying Ifeoma…? Oshie asked.
I want to go to school today. We are writing a test and my mummy insisted I must go to the market with her replied Ifeoma.
Mama Ifeoma walked out of the bathroom.
Oshie, Deejee. Good morning, she greeted.
How much okpa are you buying? Ifeoma, oya get the nylon… Be fast. You need to bathe and get ready. Her Mum commanded.
Mama Ifeoma, I met Ifeoma crying. She told that she will miss test today. Oshie said.
Yes, Nnam. What else will I do? This is what pays her school fees and that of her siblings. If she doesn’t go, the fees won’t be paid. I’m not happy she will miss her test but there’s nothing I can do;
replied Mama Ifeoma who was busy preparing for market. She had already called the “Okada” who usually take them to market.
_Don’t worry. Her fees will be paid and that of her siblings._ Oshie assured her….
Dialing a number…
Hello… A voice picked.
Good morning Boss… Replied Oshie.
How are you doing ? Asked the voice.
Not too good boss, there’s a girl here whom her mother has asked not to go school because they couldn’t afford her tuition and that of her siblings. Complained Oshie.
Education is paramount for us in Maurice Akueme Foundation, replied the voice whom the true caller identified as Chief Maurice Akueme..
To be continued