By: Edwin Mamman
In this land, we have a term for suffering. Shege. The proverbial phrase, seeing shege, is a present participle that describes the action of going through it. And there’s levels to it, you see, because, in this land, we’re all in the same hell, just different levels.
Shege is the most basic unit of suffering in this land, and there’s enough of that breakfast to go around regardless of your social status.
Shege Lite is a step or two above the basic unit, depending on your social class. It is those little inconveniences that add to your universal suffering, causing you unnecessary discomfort. Shege lite could be anything, like your gas finishing on a Monday morning as you get ready for work, knowing damn well that you can’t abandon your work to go refill it, and by the time you close from work by 6 pm, so have the gas stations. So you either risk getting fired from your job to refill your gas cylinder or endure an entire week of inconvenience. Ma binu boda, living in this land is an extreme sport.
Shege Pro is shege lite on speed. At this stage, you’re really in it, as Greg from Everybody Hates Chris would say, “Dude, you’re so in there.” See ehn, when you’re in shege pro, o ti wa ni idoti. This is when things start to get real messy. This is when you go from shaving weekly to shaving once a month. This is when you stop by the roadside to buy ata of ₦200 and incur a flat tyre of ₦3,000, and here’s the plot twist: you have only ₦2,000 in your bank account and no spare tyre in your car trunk! This is when your gas finishes on a Monday and you can’t refill it until the end of the month, or the third day of the next month if your job decides to be an instrument of the devil. This is when your electricity unit runs out at 11 pm and you sigh a big disappointing hmmm as you cross your arms and legs on your bed, staring at the ceiling while your neighbour’s security light shines into your window. Ma binu boda, it’s all downhill from there.
Shege Pro Max is the baba nla of them all. The shege of all sheges. The leveller. The respecter of no man. This is when you’re in it and of it. At this point, ko si owo. Even the upper class are not exempted. Shege Pro Max is when you go from begging for urgent ₦10k to begging for urgent ₦1k to go to work because even the ₦1k is as scarce as live broiler chicken on Christmas day. This is when you and the rich hassle for the same newly redesigned naira note, when you and the rich all queue up at A.A. RANO because it is the only filling station selling fuel at ₦300 per litre. And in case you’re just realising it, the rich are very frugal. They would rather tongue-kiss a pus-infected sore than part with ₦200 naira extra on fuel; they die there! This is when both roadside beggars and men dressed in neatly pressed kaftans beg you for ₦100 to eat because in this our land, shege no dey look face. This is when mothers cry as their children die because hospitals won’t treat them for free and banks won’t release money and even internet and mobile banking services are showing them shege. This is when the rich have stacks of old 1,000 and 500 naira notes they can’t spend because las las, e don cast. At Shege Pro Max, everybody feels the heat regardless of which level of hell they’re in.
In this land, they like to make us queue unnecessarily. They make us queue for our money; they make us queue for voter cards; they make us queue to vote; they make us queue to buy fuel. Pick your poison because, in this land, something must kill a man.
In this land, your job might kill you faster than a bullet. If you’re not dodging dangerously overloaded and tilting trailers threatening to fall on your head on your way to work, your job might just give you a heart attack by delaying your salary, again! After scattering your adashe from last month and making you collect all the bashi in Africa. If they don’t succeed with the heart attack, they’ll punish you with crippling backache and bad posture from working 8 to 6 every day. But how dare you complain? You’re even lucky that you have a job in this land.
In this land, it is a dog-eat-dog affair. Everyone capitalises on any given opportunity to exploit you. The POS operators charge you exorbitantly for using their services because “money is scarce”. If you manage to spend your old naira notes anywhere, don’t expect change because they’re “doing you a favour”. The government will spoil you with electricity for three months before the elections and then pull the rug from under your feet afterwards, clinking wine glasses in their villas while you crinkle your nose and frown at the stew and goat meat in your freezer that is going stale.
But here’s the good news, if you can survive in this land, you can survive anywhere in the world. You just have to get out first.