Friday, 20 November 2009

Life Before Death by Sylva Nze Ifedigbo


Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

I have heard enough of that crap. And no, I am not an atheist. I just think that logically as it is in the English alphabet, there should be an “A” before a “B”. If that sequence is generally accepted, I therefore refuse to be continually harangued by the talks of life after death. No, enough of that crap.

Logically, there could only be a life after death when there is a life at the present. Does it make sense to worry about tomorrow when it is still dawn today? Why worry ourselves sick about a life after death when we are not living at the moment? If you ask me, we have proceeded just too fast for our senses. Far away from reality. Guess it’s time we do a little reverse and begin to ponder a little more about life before death.

What is this guy talking about I can almost hear you asking aloud. It’s so simple. I am speaking on behalf of the little boy in rags who approaches your car window in the traffic, with a dirty old rubber bowl in hand. You see him approach, and quickly wind up your window, your face either bearing pity or disgust.

I am speaking on behalf of the six year old girl hawking pure water under the scorching sun at an hour children her age should be in school. She has not even slippers under her feet. Her hair is dirty and unkempt and strings of catarrh hang down her nose. Her eye pleads with you as she announces the sale of her ware. Does she remind you of your daughter of the same age?

I am speaking on behalf of the pre-pubescent girl who is married off to a man three times her age by parents who need the money to keep them selves alive. You read such things in the paper and it sounds so distant. No, you really do not read it, you simply flip past it to more interesting stories about celebrities and beauty pageants.

I write on behalf of the many children who are destined to live but a few days on earth because of the accident of their birth. Children that suckle hungrily at dry flabby breasts. Children that are at the mercy of the elements both hot and cold. Children who can not access common chloroquin to fight malaria. Children who were better of not born.

I speak for the farmer who has watched his produce dwindle every passing year. He doesn’t read in the papers of his Local Government Chairman’s boasts of spending millions on fertilizer every year. I speak for the Cocoa farmer who has lost his sons and helpers to the scramble for the city. I speak for the palm oil farmer who is losing his trees and house to erosion.

I speak for those women who will die and are dying for trying to bring forth others to this life. Those who have never heard of ante-natal. Those who must continue to satisfy their husbands crave for more children. Those women who are raped and are too scared to say they were. Those who sign up for shipments to Italy not because they find it pleasurable. Those who are forced to give or throw away their nine months pain.

I speak for that child who is condemned by HIV. And the mother who bore him/her. And the father who has lost his job because his bosses heard he is positive. I speak for those who queue for days to get a dose of the antiretroviral. Those people who we establish NGO’s for. NGO’s that make us rich. NGO’s we administer from the comfort of our air-conditioned four –wheel drives. NGO’s that don’t exist.

I speak for the child who learns from under a tree. The child who has an AK47 hanging dangerously from his neck. The Child who pushes that barrow around behind us in the Market. That child that has never seen a television. That child who forms the character of our more touching stories. Those stories that win international literary awards.

I am shouting aloud for that graduate who has lost every faith in himself and his country. The one whose shoe tell a million tales. Tales that make the wonderful degree certificate he carries about in that worn out brown envelope seen like a huge joke. He has lost his voice and can’t speak anymore. He is close to losing his spirit too. He has no money to take the next bus.

I am weeping along with that man who just lost his job. The man who has to layoff his workers ‘cos the books are not balancing anymore. The barber who can’t work ‘cos his tiny generator has broken down. The okada rider who can’t buy the spare part to fix his bike. That man who has been paying his tithe and waiting for a miracle. A miracle that only his pastor experiences. The pastor who keeps talking about a life after Death.

No, enough of that crap. I really would wish to know some life now not after. So stop threatening me about what would happen after I die which is very soon given my current state. Stop asking me to wait. I am tired of your deception and sweet talk. Stop postponing my joy. Give me something to hold unto today. Tomorrow will sure worry about it self. I need a life before death.

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

Sylva is the Features Editor of


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