I was at my best that Tuesday morning. smartly dressed with my best outfit, well tucked in with a black tie to match.
Before I made a move out of my house, I checked my file once again to ensure that my credentials were intact, lest I got to the interview arena and heard stories that would not just touch my heart but would tear it into irrecoverable pieces. My village people could be very funny. I mean, terribly and diabolically funny. No pun. By 'village people' I didn't mean everybody in my village. Of course not, because my parents, my siblings and myself were also inclusive. Not everybody in my village was evil. I knew at least a good number of them who meant well for me.
By my village people I meant those who were renown in displaying their diabolical notoriety. They were the witches and wizards whose main functions were to orchestrate the downfall of the the youths by some esoteric means. They were renown for thwarting the destiny of young ones who had promising future.
They called themselves African scientists. They could fly from hear to America to cause destruction. I knew science in itself was not destructive. I always pondered and wondered why witchcraft was called science in the first place. I pondered and wondered why Africa had the most destructive version of science. The white used their own scientific ingenuity to invent so many things that have even helped the world to become a global village.
I never believed in witchcraft until I saw my brother, Egana been snatched before my very eyes by the cruelest twist of faith. He died on a fateful Friday morning. I was shocked to the marrow when my uncle later confessed that he was the person responsible for the death of my brother and that he was the person that inflicted my sister, Ekwok with breast cancer.
The most disheartening thing about witchcraft or wizardry was that, they could only destroy but could not repair. So I was not in doubt of their potency to metempsychoses into a colony of rats overnight to celebrate the last upper with my hard earned credentials. Worst still, they could even replace it with irrelevant ones that would even indict me.
That was what happen to Igelle that made him serve a jail term for ten years. He had prepared for a promotion interview to the rank of a general manager of of a company he was working under for some couple of years.
He normally kept his credentials in the house. But according him, his village people hypnotized him and he decided to take the suitcase that contained all his documents to the office a day before the promotion interview. He did not bother to scrutinize the papers the next day because he was convinced everything was intact.
Lo, the worst thing happened. When the CEO was flipping through his document, he found an illegal paper that was not supposed be there. The paper declared that Igelle had been an importer of contraband goods and a drug dealer for so many years. The paper even included the fact that he planned to sell the company soon when he would be made the general manager. The document was signed by a renowned lawyer and a forged signature of him pleading guilty was impended in that document. Hmm, wonders would never end!
What kept me wondering was the fact that, he first of all pointed accusing fingers to his village people that were hundred miles away from him. He never had the slightest thought that one of his colleagues could be responsible for the calligraphy of agony that hadn't befalling him.
I wondered if his village people also used his brain as a collateral to loan some galons of blood to fuel their Vehicles so as to enable them attend their annual international meeting of African witches and wizards that took place in Uganda that year. May be they used his sense to buy Visa on one of those their diabolical missions abroad. Maybe, just may be, that was why he was unable make use of his senses.
I knew he was weak spiritually that was why they were able to succeed in thwarting his dreams and aspirations. He would have ward off their most hyped supernatural powers by invoking the power of a higher being, more powerful than them all through prayers.
The only reliable weapon one could use to thwart the plans of the evil ones was prayer. So I was advised by my parents to be very prayerful so as to fortify myself against the evil plots of my village witches. That was the reason why I prayed before I left the house for an interview that morning.
People were always fun of blaming any misfortune on witches even when they could trace the fault to themselves. They could be very superstitious. They attributed the good things that came their way to themselves and the evil to the witches and wizards in the community. If an impotent man could not impregnate his wife, they blamed it on the witches. If a woman whose womb had been been removed because of the series of abortion she committed in her youthful years, failed to conceive, they would blame it on the witches. If a lazy farmer failed to produced reasonable yield from his crops, they blamed it on the witches. If a lazy student failed an examination, they blamed it on the witches. If a girl or boy broke their heart, they blamed on the witches. When a political leader failed to do what he was elected for, they blamed it on the witches.
I used to think that somebody soon the witches would revolt and caused a destructive commotion that would lead to the third and fourth world war and then finally, the world would come to an end. They would revolt for been falsely accused of been responsible for all the evils that had been befalling the African community from time immemorial.
I got to the interview arena quite on time. It was about two hours to the time slated for the interview. But then the gate was locked and the gateman was no where to be found. Beside the gate was a shabbily dressed old man soliciting for help. He had been ignored by many people especially the interviewees. It had really been a tough day for him. I discovered that what he needed more was love. He needed to be treated with respect like a fellow human. He needed to be regarded as person. In as much as he needed food to survive, he needed love more to live. The urge to love and be loved was higher than than that of food.
Moved by pity, I walked up to him with a smile that flowed from the deep recess of my heart. I greeted him and shook him with my two hands as a sign of respect that was accorded to elders in my village. He was stunned, he never expected such a kind gesture from a young man like me. "You look different from other young men. My son, God will bless you abundantly". I said, "Amen". I called the food vendor to give the man something to eat and later gave him some amount of money to take care of himself before I Left. That was the only money left on me to pay my transport back home after the interview. But I was not bothered, I was happy because I had been able to put a smile on the face of someone who had not smile for a long while.
The interview had commenced. From the information that was brought to us by the receptionist, they needed only one person to occupy the position of a District manager of Gabu and Son's Industries Nig. Limited, one of the most renowned industries in West Africa. The person was to replace Gabu's son, Hassan who had been ordered by the father to move and manage his own firm which he established for him.
We were about four hundred applicants. You could imagine how frustrated the other three hundred and ninety nine people would feel. Although, I knew I was not new to frustration. Frustration had become a part of me. But then, I needed a change. I had asked God for a change.
Over three hundred applicants had gone. No one had been picked for the job. The place was becoming more tensed than ever. My bladder was filled with urine. I had pissed more than five times right from the moment I started standing on this long queue. My legs were aching, my heart was beating in succession and the sweat on my body had turned to river Nile, flowing profusely from head to toe.
It was now my turn. I took a deep breathe, readjusted myself. I was surprise to discover that I had suddenly regained my self confidence in a split second. That was a miracle, I thought within myself. I walked with a swaggering show of self confidence as though I was the son to the owner of the company. As I was climbing the stairs, I was silently reciting the "I fly to your patronage..." A prayer I was thought many years ago in my catechism class.
I was right in front the interviewer and he was looking at me from the rim of his eye glasses with my file in his hands. I was becoming very uncomfortable. He cleared his throat and asked me to sit.
" Emm... young man, do you recognize this face?"
He removed his eye glass and stared at me with a smile. I was tensed and as such, afraid to look at his face. The smile could not change my tensed mood. Because I knew politeness and diplomacy had always been the mark of job interviewers. That wasn't the first time interviewers were smiling at me. Many thoughts raced through my mind. Was this man mistaking my identity for someone else? Was he mistaking me for one of those gangsters that might have blackmailed him? Was this how my village people had decided to disgrace my entire generation for a crime I did not commit? I finally summoned courage and said,
"I can't really recall sir". He guffawed. I thought my response amused him.
"Ermmm, my son, I have gone through your CV. You've got good qualification here but I must confess that over 60% of the applicants have higher qualification than you. So if we go by qualification, your chances of being employed are very slim. You see, my son the post of a District manager of a reputable firm of this magnitude needs more than paper qualification. This post is a very delicate and pristine one".
He looked at me again as if to be sure that I was paying rapt attention to him and asked,
"So my son, what have you to say?"
"Nothing sir" I replied.
"Like I said earlier, the only qualified person for this job is one who has deep seated love for humanity and respects the dignity of the human person irrespective of his or her social status. I'm glad to inform you that I have finally found the young man with those sterling qualities, and that young man is you. Let me remind you that you passed the interview before you entered the gate. I was the man who disguised himself in form of a poor helpless beggar. Of all the many people that walked or drove past that gate, the only person that regarded me as a person was yourself. I must confess that you are indeed the pride of your people. Your village people should be very proud of you. Congratulations young man. You are truly a rare breed to find in this generation".
"Thank you sir", I said jumping in an uncontrollable excitement and wishing I could touch the sky to tell God how grateful I was.
"It's okey my son, that's no big deal. Your good morale has won you this favour. Come next week Monday morning so I could assign a driver to you. I shall hand a key of Prado Jeap to to you as your personal car and a well furnished duplex with all the modern facilities intact, as your personal home".
I knelt down and thanked Mr Gabu, the CEO of Gabu Industries Nigeria limited. I thanked God with all religious fervency for finally answering my prayers at the right time. I thanked my village people who thought me to love all humans equally and treat all men with equal respect and dignity, irrespective of the disproportionate social stratification. I thanked my culture which taught me that all humans are equal irrespective of the gender and ought to be accorded equal respect.
My Village people are the best.