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Today's Weather: Abuja NG: Partly Cloudy, Day 360|Night 260

            
07 Jan Written by  Japheth Omojuwa

Meka’s Uplifting Story

Abuja felt like Lagos this past weekend because it looked like the events would never stop. One had to “make appearances” at some and also send “I-am-running-late” to organisers of others just to keep up. This would be routine in Lagos but Abuja showed its very much-untold side beyond the news from politicians and government officials.

The central beauty in all of these was the fact that young Nigerians were the ones behind everything. This for me had to be said in a country where young people are supposed to be at the end of all the vices one can come up with. That these young people are getting things done is normal; that they hardly get the deserved attention is the shame of a city that often betrays itself by looking to amplify its own seamy side.

Of the different events, the night-out with Meka Akerejola stood out for me. It was not about the glamour of this particular event as much of it was in darkness courtesy of PHCN. Rather, it was about hearing a man tell his story of survival and tell it in a way that revealed Nigeria to me in a much deeper way.

Meka Akerejola is an On-Air-Personality (OAP) with a major radio station in Abuja but he became a full-blown celebrity last year when his friends organized to raise fund for him. He was battling kidney issues and his story is well documented on social media and the Internet. Listening to him, one is brought up-close with one’s mortality but once that humbling reality sinks in, one begins to see the other perspectives of his experience that tell the story of the now, the story of Nigeria and the Nigerian people.

Nigerians played their role in Meka’s quest for survival and that role is what once again answered my continued question on Nigeria’s unity. According to Meka, he had people go to the bank to send N500 for his cause. It is always great to see people give to save fellow citizens, but what can you say about the woman (or man) that understood the fact that her/his N500 meant more than its innate value because it was going to be part of a whole? To this giver, the N500 was another bond to connect with a man who was battling for his life and who needed every hand offered to keep ahead of the currents seemingly taking him to the dreaded throes of death.

Meka survived. With his survival came the story of the much-untold part of the charitable side of Nigerians. He spoke about calls from a place like Cyprus that ordinarily will not find its way into a Nigerian conversation. He shared stories of Nigerians helping to spread the message about his ailment and even coining the message in a way he did not feel comfortable with—there was a picture of him and his fiancé in one of the blog posts soliciting for help—but he understood the desperation to keep him alive by people he had never met.

This helped to save his life. Literally. “I considered suicide a lot,” he said. “I considered whether to make it fast or slow—use a knife or some poison.” The unknown Nigerians he probably would never meet saved Meka. He said he was kept alive by the thought that people from far and wide felt he deserved to live and the importance of not betraying such people and his immediate family by taking his own life.

It wasn’t all cheery news though as someone even tried to scam him in the midst of his ordeal. The lady felt that since a lot of money was coming from donors and support groups, the young man would certainly have more than enough to give. Contrary to what the popular perception says, this lady isn’t a Nigerian. She is Meka’s friend from South Africa. The stories of how Nigerians continue to misrepresent the country abound but when we finally decide to pay attention to the other side of the story, we’d find that Nigerians are also living the part of exemplary active citizens.

Dog