Yesterday as I drove casually along the not-so-busy streets of Enugu, I marveled at how much more cars graced the refurbished roads. During my school days, there were fewer businesses, fewer cars on the roads, and the hustle was there but it was mellow, unlike the crab-like hustle you feel, see and smell in Lagos.
Another thing struck me; the number of brand new cars plying the roads, the young mothers leisurely driving to meet up with school runs, the number of young fathers dressed professionally in suits picking up their young children from swimming lessons to get them home, have a quick lunch and then dash back to the office just in time before lunch break is over. A lot has really changed in my home state.
Real estate in this once sleepy civil service town is on the rise. Everyone is looking to buy, build, refurbish, sell, develop, and whatever one can imagine. All in all, the once sleepy town has awoken to the fresh and vibrant opportunities that lie within! Young people are no longer in a hurry to flee the coop as we had once done in the past. I recall in the early 2000s, we couldn’t wait to pack our bags and bid the red earth and Igbo speaking populace a hearty farewell. When my family moved to Enugu from Warri in 1997/8, my siblings and I thought we were doomed! Red earth, no running water, Igbo speaking everywhere!!!!! It was as though everyone you came across assumed you understood the language, were Igbo and must communicate in the same vein. They even looked at us differently when we spoke English in class.
All that has changed now, much to my delight. You can make phone calls all you want, and the most you’ll get is appreciative glances, not the condescending “who is this one feeling like” type of looks.
Just a few years earlier, my sister came to pick me from the airport after a section the roads in town had just been recently completed. She was home for Christmas before me, and we couldn’t find our way back to my parents at Trans Ekulu! Imagine that. To our chagrin, we had to ask a woman selling okpa with a brown coloured hair baby strapped to her back.
“Biko kedu uzo anyi ga e si je Trans Ekulu? Please, which way can we take to get to Trans Ekulu?”
It was hilarious. My folks had a good laugh at our expense. Needless to say, it was a wonderful Christmas holiday with the characteristic harmattan atmosphere of Enugu that seems to engulf the city from the surrounding hills.
If you haven’t been here, you really do need to give it a shot. Someone I know was transferred here and he almost died from anger and resentment! Now, you couldn’t pay him to move his family back to Lagos. Life is easier, has more quality to it, you live in a more comfortable place for less, kids are in good schools, you actually have time to mind the kids, and oh, you sure can have fun!
If you have lived your whole life in one place (say, Lagos) I’m afraid you do not have a lot to experience, speaking from experiences gathered from having also lived in Port Harcourt, Warri, Benin and Lagos, in comparison to Enugu. I’m glad I did.
Now I understand why the cars on the roads have grown in number, why new and modern buildings are springing up, why I see a lot of younger people behind the wheels than old spectacle-wearing retirees slowly moving along while you fume behind them with all your youthful impatience because the road ahead is freeeeeeeeee and you are late for class.
It is no longer a civil service state! The young are not in a hurry to flee. Enugu has awoken!!