Publish date 24-11-2021
Jane is an African girl who asked Luca, a friend of hers who is a volunteer from a shelter center, to accompany her to her country after spending 10 years in Italy. Luca bought a return flight to Benin City and they left. The journey was comfortable, in twelve hours - says Luca - we arrived at Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos. “Since the connection was for the next day, we decided to visit the city.
A conglomerate of 23 million inhabitants where nothing seems to be designed to please visitors. It hugs you to the point of suffocating you, overwhelms you with its movement of cars, people, buildings, plunges you into a frantic and frantic race as if you were the runner of a foot race without a finish line ».
We arrived, Jane continues, only as far as Oshodi and Surulele, we didn't have time for an in-depth visit because the plane to Benin City was waiting for us. In 45 minutes, continues Luca, we arrived in the capital of Edo State.
«I thought that upon arrival we would find dozens of relatives and friends to welcome you, but there was none. Jane just said she wanted to go home. We took a bus and arrived at night in Ekpoma, a small town of 200,000 inhabitants in the state of Edo.
Here Jane went to a street corner near the bus station, among the wooden stalls of what should be a market by day, and she went to sleep on the floor. I was sitting under the alakowe bus shelter while some guys intrigued by the presence of an oyibo (white) came to talk to me. We talked slowly, all night, while I waited for Jane to give some signs of life, but the minutes and hours passed so with the boys we went into the most disparate conversations: there were those who asked if in Europe the mosquitoes are white, if dogs only listen to you if you speak English, if I like crocodile meat, if it is true that there are people crossing the river (Mediterranean Sea) with the pirogue, if it is true that in Libya there are prisons for i wunna africa (African people), if Nigerian girls in Italy do ashawo (prostitution) then I don't remember why I must have fallen asleep ». The following morning Jane wanted to return to Italy.
No African parties, dances, palm wine, blessings from Oba Ewuare and plants from the Sambisa forest to reinvigorate herself, just the silence of a woman who wanted to look at her past for the last time so as not to regret it anymore.
NP August / September 2021