Nigeria is such a blessed country, having an amazing diversity of culture, tribes, languages, people etc. I had always been aware of some striking facts about the three major tribes. For example, historically, the Hausa-Fulanis, who are the largest tribe, are the most experienced at national leadership. The Yorubas who rank second highest in population are well-known for their emphasis on and the priority given to education. It’s therefore not surprising that they have the best developed infrastructure of the top three. The Igbos, who are next in demographic dominance, are the most industrious and widespread around the country and around the world. As a Nigerian who has traveled to more than 20 out of the 36 states in the country, I can testify to the richness of our diversity.
During the day, I had a discussion, with someone I’d call Richard that revealed more about the country. He works as a security personnel at the organization where I am also employed. This interview is about the Benin people whose home is in Edo state, southwestern Nigeria.
Richard: I grew up in Benin, Edo state and it a thing of pride among us when you say you have traveled overseas. The passion we have for traveling is such that if a Benin guy is given a visa to live in Europe a few weeks before completing his PhD dissertation, he might prefer to drop out of the PhD program in his excitement to take advantage of the new opportunity. About 12 years ago, I traveled to Spain through Morocco. It was a very risky journey and many people died on the way. The deaths were not only due to sickness or the severity of environmental conditions. They were sometimes due to fellow migrants taking advantage of weaker ones. Sometimes, after some migrants ran out of personal supplies, they attacked others, who were better equipped, to steal their money and food.
VOL: How long did you spend in Spain?
Richard: About 3 months.
VOL: Why did you come back so quickly?
Richard:We were caught and deported.
VOL: So what did you do for a living while you were in Spain?
Richard: Nothing at all. We spent all the time hiding from the police. After we were brought back, I was determined to return shortly. However, I had seen some people die in the process of hustling who left nothing behind as a legacy. So I decided to get married and have, at least, a child before returning. I thought that in case things don’t go as planned, I will have raised a family.
VOL: It appears that you never went back.
Richard: My wife prevailed on me to not leave her and the kids alone; so I never went back.
Therefore, we may be safe to say that the Benin people have an unusual passion for international travel and could risk their lives to satisfy this craving. Who knows whether some of them are among the many who die on migrant boats on the Mediterranean? It’s time for the new government leaders to be led by General Buhari who will be sworn in later today to make the country conducive for all categories of people to be guaranteed an economic future. This way, the loss of lives in the search for better prospects overseas will be significantly minimized.