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The Warri We Grew Up To Meet and The Nigeria We Hoped For

My childhood friends from Urhobo road, Warri, came visiting, sometime in August, at the permanent site of Petra Institute, Effurun Otor.

Pastor Henry Ikomi is of Urhobo and Itsekiri extraction while Collins Emesiboi is of Ijaw and Urhobo extraction. I am Urhobo, but I have an Itsekiri cousin and Ijaw uncles. We ate at any house where we met food and slept at any house where we felt tired. Tribe was of no consequences; we were Warri boys. We helped each other, and our parents took us as their children.

The girls amongst us were our sisters and relationships were respected. There were unwritten codes of conduct.

Very few of our parents then knew my first name. They all called me Apoki.

The Kola and Emmanuel Awode family were quite unique; their mother was Ibo and their father was Yoruba. I suspect the father voted for UPN then and the mother for NPP.

Later, Kola and I were in the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan together.

We used to go eat bitter leaf egusi (melon) soup in one Ibo woman’s ‘mama-put’ joint opposite the UI gate. Rats used to run in the ceiling then. It was later in life when our parents were passing on to glory that we knew which towns they came from.

We were Warri boys and girls. And they were papa and mama this or that person.

My radio broadcast is sponsored by my childhood friend and fellow Mariner from Warri house at Government College, Ughelli.

Where and how did we miss that line in our old national anthem, “… Though tribes and tongue may differ, In brotherhood we stand”?

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