“A child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth”. This is the story of Uche, an African boy who lost his way.
Losing a role model and an elder brother can have a devastating effect on anybody. And it sure had on Uche who lost his brother Emeka.

To Uche, Emeka was a perfect elder brother. A mentor whom Uche tried to emulate.
Emeka had left the house at a tender age in search of a greener pasture for the family. He sacrificed himself for the family. And one might say the sacrifice paid off because, through Emeka’s efforts, the family moved from the slums to a decent place. He sacrificed his education so that his siblings may stand a chance of getting proper education with his support. But everything changed when Emeka passed away after a brief illness.

Emeka was the force that kept pushing the family through thick and thin. He was the hope if there was to be a breakthrough for others. He was the joy of the mother and the light of the family. Everything went dark the moment the light quenched. And it seemed everybody else was left confused and wandering around in the dark with no particular direction.

With the passing of Emeka, Uche felt the weight of the family’s load directly upon his shoulders. And he knew he had to step up but how? He was just an African boy with little or no exposure. An African boy who just gained admission into the university and was hoping for his senior brother to help see him through school. An African boy who has watched his mother cry endlessly every night since she lost her beloved son. A helpless African boy who is being hunted by the big shoes left behind by his elder brother, shoes he knew he had to fill, but how?

His mother, just a petty trader who probably had to save money from her trading to renew her shop rent which could be due any moment was going through a lot and Uche knew he could not afford to bother her with his own problems. He struggled with his faith because he did not seem to understand a God that allows such to happen. It was really difficult for him to see God’s plan in all these.

Should he drop out of school to start a business? After all, he is just in his first year. But what business will he start? Where will he get the capital? Will he have to go back to his mother as a burden knowing fully well she is struggling to cope with her own demons? Who can he talk to? Besides everybody is fighting his or her battle one way or the other and it would be unkind to him to bother another.

But when the chips are down, everybody expects a man to soak it all up and do what a man got to do, and most time, the question of how is not asked. Well not until it is too late to reverse the consequences.
Uche noticed how his mother looked at him every time he was around and this broke him. Though she wouldn’t say a word, deep down Uche felt she probably wished it was him not Emeka. Besides, the family would have been better off with Emeka still around and one less mouth to worry about. This might not have been the case but how do you convince an African boy who already considers himself a failure that the world doesn’t see him that way? Although one thing was true, Uche’s mother was too deep in her grief to notice Uche’s struggles. But who can blame her? After all, she just lost a son and she is allowed to mourn him in her own way.

Yes, condolence visits did come but not many people pay attention to an African boy and what he might be going through. People are more concerned about what the females might be going through and leaving the African boy to be a man. But how does an African boy learn to be a man if not through trial and error? If you are lucky, your first trial sets you on a good path, if not, you have only your faith to hold on to. And faith was something Uche was struggling with after his brother passed
Well, Uche’s first trial led him to fellow misguided boys who were also struggling for the kind of guidance the society wasn’t willing to offer to a male child. Boys who thought they knew what it means to man up and do what a man got to do. Boys who knew that the world doesn’t just give you respect, you have to buy it through your earnings. If Uche wanted the respect of his mother and the rest of his family members, he had to buy it. Because the only way up for an African boy is through the steps of his stacks.

Uche began to spend less time at home and more time with his friends. Besides he couldn’t afford to stay home and watch everybody sober while he is helpless. He needed to be away from the negative energy and the only positivity he had comes from moving around with guys that could put him in trouble. But he didn’t mind because it helps get his mind off his demons.

Uche got introduced to the flamboyant lifestyle by the boys who were always on the move from one hotel and club to another. The lifestyle was all fun and pleasing to Uche but how does one sustain such a lifestyle without a source of income? This was how Uche got introduced to internet fraud. In the mind of these boys, defrauding is a much lesser evil than armed robbery. You only take from people that have enough to give or in most cases, people who cannot value their wealth enough in a smart way.
To them, life is all about the survival of the smartest. It doesn’t occur to them that they might be defrauding widows or people who really have no hope of survival and sending them to their early grave. To them, life dealt them these cards and they are only playing the cards the best way possible to their advantage.

Needless to say, being introduced to fraud, Uche’s lifestyle changed. He could finally afford the basic needs for his family at least. He was finally able to step up and fill the void left by his elder brother.
Everybody noticed the change in his lifestyle but they were not too concern about it except his mother who on several occasions has asked him about the source of his newfound wealth. His mother was trying her best to be there for him and give him directions but it was a bit too late for Uche who had gone past his grieving days and had found a way to level up. Though things and people around him were burning, he had little or no remorse because he was enjoying the warmness.
Due to persuasive inquiries, Uche told his mother he is into FOREX trading. What does a petty trader know about FOREX trading? It sounded too good to be true and deep down his mother always knew he was lying but she wanted to believe him so badly that she convinced herself it was the truth.

Unknown to anybody, Uche’s friends were being monitored by the authorities. Traps were set in order to catch them in action and they fell for it. Uche unaware of how deep his friends actually were in defrauding people just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time working on his next victim when all of them were busted by authorities for fraud.

Some may say he was unlucky, to others it was mere nemesis or karma but where was luck, nemesis, or karma when an African boy needed it? Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain, a mother lost her son a second time.

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