Yesterday was December 10

And I didn’t forget. I have been in the library since Thursday afternoon without pause and only got out last night/in the early hours of this morning.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say yesterday. To be honest I was thankful for papers and exams and all the things I had to work on because it made it easy to block the feelings out. If I had given myself a moment to think about it, I would have broken down and been unable to continue so I didn’t think.

It’s been five years since the plane crashed and everyone died. It’s been five years since I saw Zikora’s smile. To think we argued that term. Over nonsense. I’m so glad we made up before the end. I still miss him terribly, and how can I not? There was noone in the entire world like him…. just as there is no one in the entire world like me or like you. I’ve been thinking that for people who are all each completely unique, we treat ourselves and each other like crap.

This is perhaps the first December 10 that I did not cry or feel overwhelmingly sad. It’s not so much because what happened is any less terrible, but perhaps because I have a calmer sense of what happened. It’s still shit I know, but now I understand that there is nothing I can do to change it.

Gone is gone, but the most important thing now, is what can we do to make sure it NEVER happens AGAIN? Nothing has been done about the circumstances in Nigeria that allowed sixty children to die a meaningless death. For all their posturing, airports in Nigeria are not ready to take on a disaster of that magnitude at this very moment. Between them three presidents have done NOTHING to improve air safety in Nigeria. Obasanjo talked and talked and did diddly squat besides exchange one minister for another. Yar’Adua just died instead of doing his job, and GEJ thinks we’re all idiots.

It’s all very well to make fine speeches and call them ‘angels’ and everything but if you do nothing and make it so that they died for nothing then you do them a great disservice. If the lives of the children who died really do mean something to you and you’re not just posting your RIP tweets and 60 Angels statuses because it’s cool and everyone is doing it then put pressure on your senators and representatives to make air safety a mandatory concern. Criticize and scrutinize and pressurize our government until it actually gets off its almighty ass and does something instead of spending our money and calling us fools to our face.

A lot of you are going home to Naij for Christmas and a lot of you have parents who are in the government or who are close to those in the government. Every once in a while you should make them feel accountable. Who is to blame for everyone who died? We are. It’s our fault. It’s our fault because instead of speaking up when we should have we wanted to manage because nobody likes troublemakers in Nigeria.

When are Nigerians going to realise that we fucking deserve better. We don’t deserve this shit. Nobody deserves to die like that. Nobody deserves to have their life cut short before they’ve even had a chance to live it, to make mistakes, and learn better ways, and to discover who they are. I’ve never mentioned this before, but when they died there were some people who said some really nasty unbelievable things. Some people said they almost didn’t care because they were all the children of rich people and anyway why are children flying to and fro from places when some people don’t have money for bus. Things along those lines.

I haven’t done a post about the silent class war going on in Nigeria because I was afraid that I would botch it. There is so much that is unsaid about class in Nigeria, yet it pervades every minute detail of our lives as Nigerians and it fuels much of the resentment that grips most of the country. Maybe I will do that post eventually because this kind of shit is unbelievable.

Somebody’s child fucking died. Why do you care if that child had more money than you? Why do you care what their parents could afford to buy them or where they could afford to send them to be educated? I’m not about to say that things mean nothing or that money means nothing because I’m not stupid. Money means a damn fucking lot in this world and very often money can be the difference between whether your life is great or shit but death levels everybody. You can’t say that people are not going to go fucking mad if their child dies because they have money. All the money in the world cannot replace a single human child and I wish some people could get past their class-bitterness and fucking see that for a moment.

The stupidest part of this is that not everybody that went to Loyola was rich. Many if not most of us were solidly Middle Class or maybe Upper-Middle Class. I can tell you that most people were not exactly swimming in a pool full of money in their backyards. And even if they were, it shouldn’t make you reserve your compassion if they die.

I am also not going to say that everybody that died was a perfect, wonderful human being. There were at least two people that died that I did not like but I was still heavily pained that they died. And particularly for those people that I DISliked, perhaps it pains me even more now because I’m older and I understand more than ever that every person that walks this Earth is fatally flawed in at least one way.

I think I’ve run out of steam for this. That or I’m just too tired and fed up to continue. I suppose I will process more of my feelings about the crash over time and maybe they will show up in later posts.

I miss Toke a lot. I know I haven’t written about her here before and that’s because we were never really friends before that term. We had just become friends and I was just beginning to realise what an amazing, funny, gorgeous person she was when she died. I really wish she was still here. I can still hear her voice making fun of Brother Jake (Dan Azumi) after he punished us.

There are a bunch of other people that I really do miss – Ijeamaka (a beautiful, beautiful girl that sat on my table in Connelly House), Aniefon Ekeruwa (another wonderful little girl who was in my hostel the year before. Hilariously, she was responsible for the outbreak of foot warts that spread through the entire school that year. I got them because she wore my slippers =(  ), Chinenye Chigbo (who was in my set and really really nice), Ibiso Okemini, and many other people.

Of course I miss Zikora. He was listed in the manifest as Zikoka Okafor. Thank you Sosoliso for that one last fuck-up.

Zikora was in Connelly House with me, we were in the same class from Js1 to Js3. We shared a love of books with our friends (Mellowyel, Lolia, and co) and a secret love of sarcastic gossip (sorry everyone but things went on in Loyola that would alarm a soap opera writer). I will never forgive myself for loaning my copy of Eragon to Father Mark instead of him. I’m so sorry Zikora, forgive me.

Zikora was very smart and always did well (along with Mellowyel  – side eye to you and your constant first,second, or third occupation). He was head boy of Loyola when our year had the prefects. He had a weird catwalk that got him a lot of snide ‘girly’ remarks but he didn’t give a shit. He was a great friend and very loyal and I have drenched his shirts in tears and snot more than a few times. He was the dispenser of practical advice in the face of my impulsiveness. I think he’d have a shit load of things to say to me right now if he could. I think that if he were here, I’d be very proud of him. I already am. Like many others after the crash I developed an abiding fear of flying (which sucks by the way because I used to love flying), but whatever Zikora went through on that day (and I hate with all my heart to think about it), he has taught me to have courage and be brave in all things no matter how afraid I am.

I have been saving this email forever. This is the last email he ever sent me. Just before we came back to school; just before the term he died.

It’s kept ‘marked unread’ in my inbox where it’s lived for the past five years. I also have letters from him which I keep in a special letter box. I hang on to the little pieces I have of him because I don’t want to forget.

[Click to Enlarge]
I miss him more than words can say
But I’m sure he knows that.
Zikora Okafor 
March 6, 1989 – December 10, 2005
Lover of books (especially Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen), magazines, gossip and gist of all kinds
Beloved Friend and Partner in Crime

There are 19 comments

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  1. rukkyrux

    Damn Lotz. I’d got through the anniversary without crying but you just ruined it. I keep ‘Zikora mementos’ too- I never, ever want to forget him.

    This is the first time someone has mentioned that our friends weren’t some kind of sacrificial angels. They were people like us with flaws, but we loved them nonetheless.If we’re going to ensure that meaningless lives aren’t lost, we have to be proactive about holding the government to account for our safety.

    Thanks for this very moving, enlightening post.

  2. El Divine

    aww…you knew Zikora!! We were childhood neighbours even though we werent as close as yall were mostly cos we were still kids when we went off to different boarding schools. Still I cant forget the shock when we heard of he and Chidinma’s passing. I totally feel you on this, especially the fact that absolutely nothing has been done about this kinda situations. Tried to blog abt it yday but too much emotion.

  3. ShadeNonconformist

    Sigh. Very moving post Sugabelly.

    May Zikora and all the departed from that flight RIP. Just so sad.

    Too true. It really pains me to see how much we settle for mediocrity. —–> “When are Nigerians going to realize that we fucking deserve better. We don’t deserve this shit.”

    Per the silent class war in naija, that really is another story for another day. God help us and may we be willing to change asap.

  4. Naijamum

    This was very moving.
    Unfortunately, Nigerians have come to accept mediocrity with the result that we are even grateful when a governor tars a road.
    The wikileaks documents have been greeted with the response ….’And so?’ in Nigeria and its very much business as usual.
    Will anything change? I’m afraid I have to say – not anytime soon.

  5. bob-ij

    Lol @ rukkyrux

    I actually like the tone of your post. Because a lot of us are really somber and quiet about the crash. I feel you on the pressure but the truth is….there’s only so much that pressure can do. The resistance exceeds the push but I think we should still keep pushing. Eventually I prat something changes.

    I feel like it’ll all happen bit by bit. But the important fact is to never forget that something has to be done.

    Zikora’s catwalk was legendary! hhahah! And toke high-pitched voice. I can imagine…lol


  6. Unforgettable

    “All the money in the world cannot replace a single human child and I wish some people could get past their class-bitterness and fucking see that for a moment.”

    I couldn’t agree more. And even more offensive were the stupid articles about how LJC sacrificed the children so that the students could use the juju to get high scores.

    Anyway, there were people who died that I didn’t like either but by the time I had got to SS2 and had gone through so many experiences with different people, I wept for what could have been if they were still alive.

    Their deaths were not wasted because even though there is no evidence of action to prevent future occurrences like these, there is a change. At least inside some of us, there is an anger that is growing, and will keep growing until it tips the scale. And I do know some people whose eyes opened to reality of life and were able to think outside their self-centered orbs for the first time because the crash happened. Things happen with time.

  7. Nigerian Drama Queen

    It’s a bittersweet day for me.
    My mother missed that flight by sheer chance.
    On the other hand, a friends mother died.

    You’re right, we must take responsibility. It is not nobody’s fault.

    May their souls rest in peace.

  8. TheFish

    I don’t know, I can’t help but imagine what if this kids are still around till now?

    It’s only life and I hope we wouldn’t lose people like this ever in this country.

  9. leggy

    i miss zikora too and his sister chidinma.we grew up together, both our families.infact we are best friends.some days his mother still slips up and calls my elder sister ‘her inlaw’ and then everyone gets that awkward silence when we remember that that fictional marriage isnt ever going to happen.
    life sucks. its been 5years and i can still remember my dad going to the airport to pick up his dad because he couldnt drive.
    i went to primary school with 50% of the people who died on the crash and it really reminded me that noone is too young to die.
    the ijeamaka you are talking about was in jss1 right?
    she was head girl in her primary six.she was so fine.

    i never tweeted, made a post or said anything about it this year cos i dont know…i’m just tired of thinking about them.

  10. Ginger

    I still remember that Mother who lost three kids there. That’s what we reap from our negligence and corruption in Nigeria. Sigh.
    May their gentle souls rest in perfect peace, Amen.

  11. Anonymous

    Yet the silly beat goes on. The worst you can imagine will happen and the sad drama called naija goes on,not even a beat is missed. Even when members of the ruling class are victims.

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