Open 2020, Short Stories - Chinedu Okoro


Dear Makonna

By Chinedu Okoro 


I have tried several times to get across to you through calls and text messages but you have intentionally kept away from my attempts. You even had the mind to block me on Facebook and WhatsApp. I sought the best way to reach you, being by mailing.


Mako, for the past twenty years, you left the shores of Africa for Europe, you have not bothered to look back to the great continent you left behind.


Do you know that Nwanyieke, our mother, cries every night to the moon, asking it to fall before you so that its quake on the ground will tell you how heavy her heart is, so that you will be touched to come back home quickly. Believing that her tearful pleas to even Mother Nature had been hearkened to, and hoping to see you returning home, she expectantly sits on the balcony of our house every morning to welcome you back home with a hug, only to see the empty horizon gazing back at her. You need to see the darkish eye bags on her wrinkling face.


What bleeds her aging heart the most is that you forgot in a hurry how she sold the only parcel of land nna anyi left behind for us in order to raise the money she added to the ego nzuko – the money belonging to the Market Women’s Association, which was in her custody – to send you to Europe. Do you know that Mama slept in the cold cell for four nights because of the market women’s money with which she supported your travel?


It pains me that we have a high profile person like you living in Europe and we are still in this pathetic lack and difficulty. You need to see how our house looks like – the cracked walls, damaged ceilings and leaking roof – and that Mama and I always squeeze ourselves in a corner of the house at nights during the rainy season. I wonder if you are the same Mako that had always told me in those days, whenever we were coming back from catechism classes that it was in our hands to build our family, community, the nation and the continent to the level we wanted it to be – an enviable level at that. Those words of yours are still fresh in my memory, always drumming loudly in my ears.


If somebody told me ab initio that you would forget us to the extent of forgetting your favourite abacha delicacy, I would not believe the person. You would always remind me to add enough ogiri-okpei to it in order to give it the taste that always captivated your nose and made anyone who came across our house and perceived the aroma to salivate.


Mako, I haven't forgotten that you wouldn't stay two days without eating the abacha I prepared with that fresh nkwu ocha, which Mazi Nnanna usually supplied us – the best combination of food that no restaurant over there can give you. Mako, I have lost count of how many times, the abacha I prepared and kept for you, hoping that you would suddenly come back, got sour on the table all.


Those children you always entertained with akụkọ ifo and taught folk songs during moonlight dances are now grown-ups. They are always asking after you, pouring torrents of gratitude for the rich folktales you fed them with when they were still children. A lot of them have excelled in their respective endeavours today, and many of them say they owe part of their achievements to you because of the morals you taught them back then through those folk tales and moral instructions you gave them.


Our children of today are missing a lot because people like you have deliberately deprived them of the ancient oral traditions. No wonder, the African values are now in danger of extinction. A large percentage of our teeming youths now engage themselves in drugs, cultism, prostitution, internet frauds and many other vices that sting any ears that hear about them.


This is just because they couldn't eat from your pot of wisdom. You may ask what those who tapped from you and your folktales are doing to preserve our value system. Please may I ask you this question: Does the wisdom of the grey hair equate with that of the young black hair? I know you don't expect me to tell you the answer, for you already know where I am headed.


Mako, it seems you have forgotten how the leadership legacies of Dede Sam Mbakwe roused you to fall in love with politics, such that you never ceased to tell me how you would grow up to become a politician like him? Has that dream died?


Daberechi, your bosom friend whom you travelled with to Europe, came back six months ago and shed the volume of tears that the ground couldn't drink up in two days over his neglect of home due to the same belief that is still keeping you far from home. Mako, where, on earth, did you learn that as soon as you come back home, your enemies would gather against you and kill you with their juju or kidnap you for a ransom? Is that what you learnt from the Nollywood films you have been watching over there in Europe? If enemies gather to kill or kidnap anybody who returns from Europe, what is still preventing them from eliminating Daberechi?


Don't just tell me that you are running away from home because of evildoers, because I know there are many of them scattered across the cities of Europe. I have also heard stories of how some of our brothers and sisters were murdered in cold blood by the evildoers over there. By the way, from where do you think magic, witchcraft, killings and other evils originated? I know it is not in our blood.


I remember you narrated to us during one of those moonlight dances how Amadioha would strike to death any person who thought evil against his brother or stained his hand with his brother’s blood. In those days, our people feared to stain their hands with blood or to do any other evil, until we got into marriages with alien cultures.


From the words of Daberechi, I have seen all your fears, which have made you to avoid coming home. Yes, I know you don't like the crop of leaders ruling us. Will that make you to relax comfortably in another man's land? If you continue to avoid home because it stinks as a result of bad leadership, and every other person does same, who will help cure home of its stench or change the narrative? Is it the leaders who you know and say have failed?


If you invest all your strength in building another man's land, what happens to home? Remember, you are just a sojourner there. No matter how successful you think you have become there, you cannot be a European any more than the Europeans. I watch Aljazeera and other international television channels at Dede Eme's house and also tune in to foreign radio stations with the old transistor radio our father left behind and hear about how blacks are murdered for the hatred of what I cannot tell about.


I have heard about the incessant murder of blacks in America, such as Martin Luther King (jnr.), Rayshard Brooks and a whole lot of others, the latest being the horrible and premature death of the young man named Geo-something… Hmmm… Yes! George Floyd; that’s the name! I have equally heard about many other inhumane treatments meted to the black race in Europe, America and other continents of the world, yet you still turn a deaf ear to the pathetic calls for you to come back and help rebuild our home. Back in the day, you always told us the age-long adage that ‘charity begins at home’. Mako, I ask you, where lies your own charity – in Europe or back here at home?


I want you to know that the safest place of refuge you have, as the world is truncating or replete with chaos of various magnitudes, is no other place but home. I also want you to remember that there is what we call 'posterity'. You cannot afford to neglect it.


Mako, your hands are needed in the rebuilding of home to that enviable and formidable height you ever dreamed of before leaving the shores of Mother Africa for Europe. This is so that people over there will also struggle for visas to, or even embark on the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea and the hot arid desert to come here in search of greener pastures the same way our young men and women are risking their lives to go their lands. Yes, it is achievable!


Never forget this popular Igbo proverb, which you are very conversant with: ‘the water in a broken piece of earthenware pot is meant for the dog’. I pray that this piece will meet you well, so that you will listen to reason and come back home immediately.


I love you.



Chinedu Vincent Okoro is a Nigerian writer, poet, educator and social change activist. He holds B.Ed in Educational Management and Political Science from Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). He is the president of St. Vincent Literary Forum (SVLF), Nigeria and a member of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). His literary works have over the years, dotted the pages of international and local anthologies, and magazines


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