The following events happened yesterday morning.
By this time on Monday evening, I was extremely bored, and a little bit sad (due to the boredom). A client came into my office and said he stays at Tombia. I wondered aloud about why he would come here all the way from there. “ Tombia is just 7 mins away by speed boat from Iwofe” he said.
By eightish today, with a kick to the belly, I caught my brother’s attention, after riddling him tales of water travel and the unknowns we would get from Tombia island exploration, I successfully convinced him to accompany me.
We got to the “waterside” and paid for our trip. The bank was littered with shirtless chisel bodied men, the kind of chiselling that comes from too many skipped meals. There were drug dealers, legit selling their wares openly the way people sell foreign rice in those huge ass basins. There were also fishermen,pum pum sellers, bole roasters…… normal stuff.
So we got into the boat.
I have been on a boat a billion times before.But none like this. When I was trying step into the boat shaped plastic, with wooden planks across it’s width at intervals to serve as seats, the thought that struck me was “Omfg!! I have lived a sheltered life”.
We sha boarded and it was was amazing. I was so excited that the people beside me wished they could move away. Within 3 mins of setting out, we lost sight of the shore, it was all open river and swamp trees . Suddenly, well not suddenly suddenly. The boat slowed down, the driver was trying to get us to the closest bank, so he could figure out what was wrong. The engine was not feeling well….. My chest started beating oninown…. why didn’t I sit at home and watch Netflix while adding inches to my already inchful waist line?. Wtf am I doing here?. Which one be adventure abeg?. Suprisingly, the boat didn’t stop. It carried us safely to our destination veerry verryy slowly. Veteran speed boat enterers mumbled and grumbled to their heart’s content but that didn’t stimulate the engine to speed up.
What struck me most about Tombia at first sight was the coast line. It was neat, well neatish, better than Iwofe’s hands down, there was a tiny white sand beach . A lot of colourful story buildings and numerous speed boats bobbing up and down in greeting. If entering the boat was a challenge, guy you should experience the exiting. All those mammy water people were stepping on the edge of the boat making it sway and drift further away from its teether. I sat down firmly and refused to get up until everyone had gotten off. I bin no wan kon hear say I fall enter water.
There wasn’t much to see on the land. It was a quiet village with modern houses and a lot of well tiled graves. There were no cars. The only means of transportation is by foot and by bike . The streets had solar panel powered lights evenly spaced along the interlock tiled narrow streets wide enough for just 1 car (if there was ever any). On the return trip, I entered the boat like I was born in one, no shaking. We moved out. Way faster than the first loser boat and then stopped in the center of the open river……. We could still see the shore .
The driver abi na captain , tried and tried but the engine didn’t respond. He turned the boat to face the dock so we could return. But the currents started pushing us further down river. It was at this point that I had to ask my self “Am I Jonah?”
I have heard about bunkering, I knew the word long before I knew what it meant. It took an equally lengthy amount of time for me to understand that it was an illegal practice.
On getting back to Iwofe waterside, after successful changing boats, it was just as busy as it was . But when our boat tried to dock, a young boy in small panties which were dirt stained, with no elastic to hold the waist together, grunted at our dritain ( a new word I just coined by merging driver and captain) . “You no go fit park here. Go the other side” with no argument the dritain started reversing. In my mind I’m like “shoo!! That boy carry winch for mouth?” Then I looked into the water and I saw it!!!
Floating in the water disturbing no one were sacks of crude oil being carried ashore. They were carefully packed in transparent polyethylene bags. Each sack containing approximately 5 liters of raw crude oil. A small ship at a safe distance was dropping them into the water, the current was carrying it down river to these guys who rescued the packages with a skill that can only be attained from practice.
Initially what I thought was “hewwww they would shoot us for what we have seen” but we weren’t the only ones to have seen, there were 2 police officers chatting amongst themselves, some soldiers at the mama put, the drug dealers, fishermen, pum pum seller, bole roasters and everyone. Nobody cared. Perhaps they didn’t care because they had been paid, but everyone cannot be paid, the guys weren’t armed so it couldn’t be due to fear.
Then I realised, they aren’t thieves, it is their parents and siblings that are lost in the pipeline fires , it is their villages that are polluted by oil spills, they are the ones that suffer in poverty while foreigners and the government rape them of their resources it is their land that burps the black gold. Nah they aren’t thieves , how can you steal what is rightfully yours?