IT has been over a decade but the words come resonating through time like it was yesterday. Emmanuel, the ‘immaculate’ he called himself, and his task was to make sure we understood the essence of the English Language. The immaculate one didn’t just want us to blindly cram the idioms or read the comprehension passages without insight. He would always say life itself is a teaching board, one cannot learn in isolation for every element, every event works to make us or break us.
One of his favourite sayings was this: “Change is the consistent inconsistency of life,” he said it way too often that it became a mantra, a cliché and at some point, a sentence of beguilement for members of my class, but as I starred at the heap of tomatoes the seller just said was N50, I couldn’t help but remember, Emmanuel ‘the immaculate.’
How many months ago was tomato as precious as or even more precious than rubies? I genuinely blinked back my surprise and asked her for a second time to ascertain the price of the fresh, beautifully red fruits. The seller affirmed N50 to my utter amusement. I gave her a N100 bill and requested for two bowls. I made a pot of stew that lasted me 5 days…
Wasn’t it just a few months ago that it seemed like the entire nation would crumble at the feet of the magnificent valour of tomato ravaging Tuta absoluta? Three balls of tomatoes sold for as high as N500. Nigerians resorted to tomato paste and for those who couldn’t stand its stale taste, leafy green vegetables. However, how readily available and affordable were the vegetables?
In those few months, while the price of tomato sky rocketed like Niel Armstrong’s rocket landing in the moon for the first time, leafy green vegetables as well became like princely emeralds. A tiny moth eaten bunch sold for N100 or even more.
Cooking became a hobby for several Nigerians, even the classy ladies with long nail extensions took them off and entered the kitchen. Tuta absoluta waged war against Nigerians and it seemed as though the nation would never recover from its ravenous rape, but did it?
Like immaculate said years ago, the consistent inconsistency of life is change. Today, over 6 balls of tomato sell for N50 and quickly, like the labouring woman, who swiftly forgets all her pains when she beholds her baby, Nigerians have forgotten all the sufferings we had to go through due to the infestation of our tomatoes by the voracious moth. If at all we remember tuta absoluta, it is to laugh off the absurdity of the name of such havoc wrecking insect-fiend.
Dear country men, several of us chanted change and held our breath for it to come. Though change is here, it feels as though nothing has changed except for the inflation rate which is over 17 per cent, unemployment, suicide rate and the free fall of our naira but we cannot afford to lose hope. For like the passing of tuta absoluta into undignified obscurity, these hard times will fade. However, my fellow countrymen, we have to make a decision to be standing, not just standing but standing strong when this fog fades away.
Change, ultimately, is the only consistent inconsistency of life, immaculate said and today, I couldn’t agree with him more. Yes, the reality that stares us in the face is outrageously stupefying, but we must not buckle under the pressure this reality throws us.
Nigerians are a strong breed and for centuries, we have found a way to thrive, to survive even in the face of volcanic eruptions. We lived through Ebola, we squashed Tuta absoluta and though this change may make us feel like the mythical frog which was boiled alive, we must place our focus on the reality that we will again someday, like a phoenix rises from its ashes; relish the succulence of the tomato.
A dollar is over N400 today and several other ills have befallen our economy, but who knows that maybe someday, a bowl of rice will sell for quarter the price it is being sold today? It is only the tough that will find answers to these conundrums. Hence, we must remain tough, unwavering, resilient, hopeful and optimistic that this depression will not kill Nigeria, but will only unveil this nation’s biggest potentials and help us take our rightful place on the Milky Way as the biggest star of this continent. God Bless Nigeria!