Thursday, 26 May 2016


Front view of the Gate man's house where the family lives.
I came into Yola about a week ago after being away for five months. I came in at night and didn’t take time out to notice all the changes in my house; and there were many. I, however, saw that the gate man's house was filled with people; a woman, her children and a young man. I ignored them and went into my house.

The next day, I woke up to the sound of a crying baby. I got up, looked out of the window and saw that the compound was littered with bits and pieces of household materials as the woman balanced preparing their meal and calming the wailing baby.

I went out to my neighbor and asked who they were. He told me they were renting the place. I was scandalized! How could they be renting the GATE MAN’S CUBICLE? He told me that the place was even going for ₦40, 000. I went back to my room and from the window, watched the family.

The husband – the young man I saw - is a laundry man in a hotel close to my house. Without even asking, one could tell that he is not formally educated. Seeing this, I knew the wife would be uneducated too. I continued watching.

They have five children; two girls and three boys. The boys are the middle children. The first girl looks like a teenager but it is very hard to determine the ages of the boys because they are smallish, thin and have an air of malnutrition about them. After a while, I made my decision and left the window.

Side view of the gate man's house.
Since I was away for such a long time, you can imagine how dusty the house was. I started cleaning. Soon enough, I had three piles; what I wanted to take back to Kaduna, what I wanted to give away and what I wanted to destroy because they could not be used by anyone.

When I had the clearly defined piles, I went to my neighbor and asked if the woman would feel some type of way if I gave her the pile I wanted to give away. He said she would appreciate it; very much. I decided that I would go to her at night with the things to spare her any embarrassment...or spare me any.

I went back in and pulled the things I wanted to destroy out of my room and towards the refuse bin. After that, I went back into my room to continue working.

I was interrupted by gleeful shouts in Hausa.. I went back to my window and saw the kids jumping and shouting.

‘Mama, look what I got!’
‘Mine is better!’
‘No! Mama look! See what I found again'.

They were rummaging through my trash and happy at their ‘finds’.

A veil of shame came over me. I had been in a dump for months because I felt like my life was at a plateau. I was unhappy about my finances and wondering whether my career would ever pick up. I went about being depressed about everything and every situation. I stopped smiling genuinely and literally became a recluse.

And before me were children going through my trash who were happy at what they 'found'! Their mother collected their finds and kept them in her room. When I saw that, I was more ashamed.

What right did I have to be gloomy? To be sad? To be unhappy? 

I live alone in my house and they were 7 in a room that was about a third of my room and yet they maintained their joy and happiness. I was ashamed that I had become ungrateful for the many simple pleasures in my life. Instead of being grateful, I spent most of time whining about the things I lacked. I have NO RIGHT to carry on as such when there are people living WAY WORSE than me who are NOT complaining.

For the past few days, I have been watching this family and so far, I have discovered that the children do not go to school, the first girl is a maid, the mother uses traditional medicine methods when the toddler is sick and the father beats the crap out of the kids when they do wrong. In all, you will never see them without a smile on their faces and though they look gaunt, they look happy.

This family has given me a reality check. Yes things are bad. Yes things are not going the way I planned. But I control the way I react to the lemonades life is throwing at me. I can decide to be gloomy and sad or I can choose to maintain a bright demeanor IN SPITE of it all.

This family reminded me to enjoy the simple things of life. It is never as bad as we think.

I hope we can all remember to smile through whatever we are going through at the moment. My prayer is that we remember to be grateful for the ‘little things’ in our lives. Know this; SOME ONE HAS IT WORSE! SOME ONE ALWAYS HAS IT WORSE THAN YOU! 

And knowing this, it should be a springboard pushing you to do something for someone who has it worse than you do. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do; just do something!

PS: If you want to help this family in anyway, just send me a mail at Thank you.


  1. This is indeed a call to reality. Often times we are oblivious of what is going on around us simply because we only concentrate on ourselves.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I do not see the relation. Mine is a blog and is Shades of Brown, NIGERIA. If there was a problem, google would have prevented my registration. Thank you.

    2. I do not see the relation. Mine is a blog and is Shades of Brown, NIGERIA. If there was a problem, google would have prevented my registration. Thank you.

    It also has a tax identification number