When I read online about the London returnee lady who was murdered by her staff, I told myself, oya call this lady that is writing about tales on a website that one of my Nigerian friends forwarded to me. I mean your site, thisislagos.
So, I got your number from someone who knows someone who knows you. You understand me?
I want to tell you a story. The story of my friend who was like a brother. He was also killed in a similar situation when he came to Nigeria after more than twenty years in America. True story!
My friend, Linus, came to America in the early 90s, in ’92. He was already about 32 years when he used another person’s papers to travel. I won’t tell you who but just understand that like many of us, we use something to get something, ok?
How did I meet him? Ok, let me explain one thing, see Linus, hehn, we both went to UNN. While he studied Art, me, I studied Pol. Science. We were roommates in our third year and even after that we stayed close.
The thing I know about Linus is that he is a hard worker, that guy, when all of us had gone to bed, snoring, Linus will be at his table, drawing, doing printing jobs for people outside, he was doing deals right from school. He was really a hard worker!
Our parts crossed again when I too came to America, I went on a tourist visa in ’94 but nne I stayed, worked like a slave and today, I have my papers and I am a bonafide Americana! You get me?
We reconnected in Atlanta and began to stay in touch and after a few years, Linus got his papers, too through a Yankee wife.
As we always do, Linus was sending money home to his brother Chuks to build a solid house in the village. He showed me the drawing of the building; three storey building! This is not moinmoin o! Chuks is the one following after Linus; they are six in their family, Linus is the first, they have just one sister.
He also told me he was sending money home to start a poultry farm to help some of his cousins who had no jobs. I said, ok, me I am not a father Christmas. I was cautious.
You know we Nigerians here have too many bitter stories about how our own brothers betray us when we send money. Many times the money is never used for what we ask our people to use it for. Many times they claim one thing happened to the money or they are even deceiving you and the money just goes down the drain. The thing is our people at home think we are swimming in cash here, they don’t understand we work hard for da moni! Mehn, America gives you no free meals! You gotta work for da money.
I told Linus, dianyi, you are sending too much home, in these days of video and all that, tell your brother to send video recordings of the building he is putting up for you. Tell him to show you the poultry, tell him to interview people and send so we have a situation report. In fact, tell other people to go and find out if indeed these things he claims are true.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, Linus got mixed reviews. One cousin told him that Chuks was chopping his money another cousin claimed it was not true; one person even said the house is for Chuks, that the building that Linus has been showing us may not be in his name!
That’s how the desire to come to Nigeria began for Linus. He had been away for long, you know, and many times when he wanted to come home he couldn’t because he has another family here. You get? And these people, I think they are afraid that if we leave them here, we won’t return, so going home was a little difficult at the beginning.
But after sometime, he went home once or twice, I am not sure. It was after he returned that the issue of building started.
Linus said, ‘Nna, I want to go home briefly, to see things for myself.’
I told him, ‘Don’t go. You have already started fight with Chuks, you have already let him know you won’t send more money, don’t go.’
But Linus said there was nothing Chuks could do to him, that he would go.
I told one of our close friends, Nnamdi. He had also had a nasty experience with sending money home only to find out they were chopping the thing. Nnamdi advised Linus not to go.
“Don’t go yet, o. Wait,” he pleaded.
Linus did not agree.
He went home, not in December but October of that year, 2016. He went home. His mind was that he will stay one week and come back to America.
As I have talked my own. I left him, after all, he was a grown man with wife and three oyibo kids. What can I do?
We were later to find out that the house Chuks was building was all in Chuk’s name, no mention of Linus.
The poultry farm did not even exist. Chuks and his brothers were just collecting money and chopping for themselves; marrying women and bringing forth more children and collecting cheiftancy titles!
When Linus came and saw it, I heard they had a real fight. Physical fight o, among brothers who are past 40 years of age!
Their mother came and was crying, begging her sons not to fight, begging Linus to forgive his brothers. I heard their family members came to settle the quarrel.
Nne, the long and short of the story is that, the following day, Linus was invited by an uncle to discuss the matter. Chuks was there, the other brothers and their mother was there.
I heard they served food, they all ate. I heard only Linus died!
What is the meaning of that, biko? What is the goddamn meaning of that! Was he poisoned? How come only he died even though they said some of them vomited. Can you see what I am seeing?
So as it is, the house, the poultry, all that money of over more than twenty years…gone!Gone! gaddemit!
And hear this one, too. When they went to wash Linus’ body for burial, you know, it will be his people that will wash his body after they have put him in the morgue, they said Linus grabbed Chuk’s hand and wouldn’t let go! They had to cut the hand off!
Chei! Linus oooo!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)