OGA, HIS GATE-MAN AND HIS DRIVER (2)
By Rev Canon Chinemerem Uche
This is a conclusion of my experiences with drivers and how they related with their bosses. This may sound quite funny but learn the lessons. I have tried to present this piece in plain English for your reading pleasure.
“My Boss told me that we would be leaving very early for the conference and so I was directed to be at my boss’s residence to pick him for our journey to Benin. Oga knows very well that I do not eat until it is about 10 am. On our way, Oga bought banana and groundnut, I was disappointed to see the man finish the whole banana, and in fact the banana he ate was almost a bunch. He was not done yet; we stopped also to buy special guinea fowl egg, which he ate all alone. When we got to Head Bridge, he bought for himself snacks and fruit juice. I watched him from the rearview mirror as he gulped the entire fruit juice down his stomach. I was terribly hungry and did not know how to ask him for some of the snacks he bought. I also felt he should have known that I too as a human being who left house quite early needed to eat.
Being unable to bear the hunger again, I resorted to my own concoction which helped to strengthen my stomach against hunger. My father had earlier taught me before he died, how to prevent hunger by chewing bitter kola with a chewing stick we call “Atu-egwunwoke.” This combination had the power of strengthening your stomach and preventing it from collapsing due to hunger.
Why am I taking time to narrate this thing to you my Reverend? I just want to let you know that drivers are as important as their Oga whom they serve. Do you not know that the life of the Oga to a large extent is dependent on the state of his driver, especially if it involves a long journey? Some of our Ogas do not care about our welfare especially when we take them for conferences that involved sleeping over. They take time to make arrangement for their accommodation and just expect us to find our way. Maybe they expect us to sleep in the car. How can you spend long hours on the steering and still end up passing the night in the car? In fact sleeping in the car while your Oga enjoys himself in the hotel accommodation is quite traumatizing. While he is coasting away with air conditioners, I enter into another phase of driving. While sleeping in the car, I end up driving in my dream. This type of “spiritual driving” is not funny at all, because you will find yourself in the dream driving Molue or bus. The most annoying part is that the local touts popularly called agbeoro would not allow you rest while you drive in the dream.
So, coming back to our journey to Benin City, when we got to the conference, Oga ordered me to clean up the car. I cleared all the banana peels, egg shells and empty fruit juices. Na waa O! This man no get feelings at all. The conference was well attended and the food they ate was quite appetizing. Other people ensured their driver was well fed but my Oga busied himself with the conference. From time to time he will send an attendant with packaged food and drinks to ask me to keep them for him. This was his usual way of doing things. He never forgets to bring back enough “Take away” for his wife and children. The package included, Moi-moi, whole roasted chicken, cans of malt drink, cans of small stout and beer, packets of fried rice and bottles of chilled foreign wine. O boy! Just imagine yourself very hungry with these things in the car and yet you cannot eat it. My Boss is meticulous. He knows the exact number of items he had brought in. You cannot cheat him on that and he is ready to threaten you with fire and brimstone if you took any without his permission. I dispelled the hunger and temptation to eat the food by taking more of the bitter kola. Nevertheless, I resolved that day that this was going to be the last time I will drive my Boss while he selfishly consumes food without feelings for me.
On our way home, the pangs of hunger intensified despite the antidote of bitter kola. I was further weakened by the aroma of the well packed food at the back of the car. My Boss busied himself with phone calls while I drove him home. Suddenly, I saw a very long haulage vehicle approach us from the opposite direction. I saw this as an opportunity to make my Boss realize what he had done to me. While the haulage vehicle drew nearer, I left my own lane and started driving as if I was going to have a head on collision with the long trailer. Come see Oga! He was panting and shouting and praying and calling heaven and earth. He finally called out to me, “Kpokirikpo! Are you not seeing that oncoming trailer? Move to your lane quickly please, do you want to cause accident?” “Which trailer Oga?” I asked him casually as if there was no danger ahead. My Boss charged further pleading blood and heaven and earth, “Kpokirikpo, don’t tell me that you are not seeing anything, please, please, please, I beg you in the name of God, don’t kill me, even if you are not seeing anything stop the car and clear by the side.” I was undaunted, I continued my driving. Finally, when the trailer inched closer to me, I quickly returned to my lane and swerved into the bush by the side of the road. By this time, my Boss was like a vegetable, his tie was off, his suit flung out of the car and was clutching to a piece of tract paper given to him by roadside evangelist. His trouser was wet and he kept crying for some moments before realizing that the car had stopped.
He immediately got out of the car and began to shout at me, “Kpokirikpo, is this how you want to kill me? God forbid! Your plans have failed today. If they sent you, tell them you did not see me. But what was wrong with you that you did not see that very long trailer? I want to know because I have never seen you drive so recklessly like this before?”
“Oga na hunger O! Nothing but hunger! The kine hunger wey wire my stomach today, I never experience am before. In fact I am still not seeing clearly and I don’t think I can drive further until I put something for belle o!”
My Boss did not waste time, he reached out for the three packs of rice and handed them over to me. O boy! Come see as I balance finish the whole rice with all the fried chicken. Like my friend would say, “elegem eze Kathy, na me go give am tooth paste?” When I finished with the rice, na him Oga come give me the canned drink, I no waste time, I finished all of them! As I reached out to take the beer, na him oga beg me say make I take those ones go home. Since that day, my brothers, the first thing Oga de ask me before we go on journey is, “Have you eaten?” Trust me naa, who will say “oga I don chop!” Who sai! Oga will make sure that the attendants bring me food whenever we go for an occasion. In fact I will often hear him shout “Have you people given my driver food? Give him food before he carries me into the bush, life has no duplicate!”