A tale of two young men

A tale of two young men

Monday, May 30, 2016 7:06 am


Grace Essen

Grace Essen

By Grace Essen

The past week was an interesting one for me; bitter sweet would be my attempt to describe it. One early morning my friend and neighbour knocked on my door at a time I considered a bit too early. We greeted briefly and I waited to hear what would bring her to my house in her night gown, when she was supposed to be getting her children ready for school. The look on her face said it all, “Mmmh! Please come outside and see what’s happening o!” “What?!” I asked. She narrated how she was out to buy something when she saw a small crowd of people gathered on the street, one of our neighbours told her a thief was caught in the night and that it was someone living right on our street!

She had to go see and behold it was a boy she knew to be reasonably close to me, he had been beaten thoroughly with his hands tied up and she thought to let me know. She left immediately looking sad and seriously disappointed. My heart sank. How come? I became restless as conflicting thoughts raced through my mind – that’s a boy I had watched grow up, an only child of his parents. Many would describe him as a lucky child. He was raised in a good home and attended the best schools. He had grown up to become a tall and very handsome young man with such a bright future ahead of him. Recently his father proudly showed me his degree certificate from a university outside the country. And now this? No. It must be a case of mistaken identity…

Then it was time for me to drive out and I badly dreaded it, I just didn’t want the story confirmed, but I was left with no choice. Down the street the crowd was still gathered just as my friend had said. As I drove past, I could see solemn faces but I didn’t see the boy. Then one of the street security personnel said to me in Yoruba, pointing at someone leaning on a car, “Look at that face very well, that’s a thief!” There my worst fear was confirmed. One look at him, I just burst into tears…. My God! He looked like he had seen his ancestors!

I parked the car and walk towards him asking, “Tony, what happened?” He couldn’t say a word. He just hung his head. It was such a horrifying experience for me and I could only imagine the pain and embarrassment that would bring to his parents.

These two young men gave me something to ponder on, one, good news and the other not so good. It is not so much the school our children attend or how much money we spend on them, determination and focus on their part, and continuous guidance on our part as parents makes a huge difference. I saw an interview of a father and son – co-authors of the book Killing Lions, now turned to a movie. The young man talked about how when he needed guidance he would first think of his dad and he was always there for him. He described his call to his dad this way, “Father, please father me!” And I’m thinking, how many young men today are being ‘fathered’?

Two days after, I got a message on Whatsapp from someone who wasn’t in my contact list. The profile picture was that of a young man in a nice suit, sporting a mohawk hairstyle and sitting on a couch like he was the son of Aliko Dangote. Mmmh! I almost concluded it was one of those annoying distractions you get on social media that many would rather stay away. But then the message suggested he knew me, he mentioned my name and asked after my family. Was it someone I know using a different picture for profile like most people do? As if he read my thoughts he sent another message asking, “Remember me?” I said “No” and asked him to please introduce himself. He did and I immediately remembered him! He worked as a security guard at some place I was doing a program and he was so helpful with respect to parking space and all of that. We spoke at some point and I found out he was schooling but working as a security person to support himself since his family couldn’t see him through school. I saw a young man who needed a little help and encouragement. I sincerely hope I gave him the encouragement he needed. I lost his contact after I changed my phone, apparently he didn’t lose mine. And there he was sitting like he was a prince or something… obviously his life had changed for good.

He was happy to tell me he now runs undergraduate and post graduate training centres in Lagos, I almost fell off my seat! He invited me to come see what he what he is doing someday. I asked if he reaches out to other young people and he said that is one area he is making a difference. I imagined how proud his parents would be.

These two young men gave me something to ponder on, one, good news and the other not so good. It is not so much the school our children attend or how much money we spend on them, determination and focus on their part, and continuous guidance on our part as parents makes a huge difference. I saw an interview of a father and son – co-authors of the book Killing Lions, now turned to a movie. The young man talked about how when he needed guidance he would first think of his dad and he was always there for him. He described his call to his dad this way, “Father, please father me!” And I’m thinking, how many young men today are being ‘fathered’?

You may reach Grace via email: gracessen@gmail.com. You can also connect with her on twitter @GraceEssen, on Facebook, and also follow her blog @Mum2MumAfrica.com.


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