Undisputed

Undisputed

Theirs had been a home of laughter and love.
Tender trust and cozy contentment.
Till tragedy struck.
In the form of a Ponzi scheme induced heart attack.
Incapacitating the bread winner and man of the house.
At the age of 44.
Death followed weeks later.
But before the dearly departed was cast unto mother earth.
His memory was desecrated.
By the indiscretion of extended family members.
Who moved in days later.
With accusations of witchcraft against the mother and wife.
Of the recently demised.
A woman who bore 3 children during the course of a 15 year old union.
Shell shocked.
Humiliated and heartbroken.
The grieving widow was taunted and threatened.
Traumatized and tormented.
By hitherto loving in-laws.
Who commandeered and carted off whatever valuables they could lay hands on.
Jewelry.
Family heirlooms.
An only car.
Gadgets and so forth.
Then in the guise of giving a befitting burial to a departed son and brother.
The family’s home.
A semi detached duplex at Yaya Abatan street.
In the neighborhood of Ogba.
Lagos-Nigeria was sold off.
It’s proceeds shared among immediate relatives of the untimely demised.
Soon.
The dead man’s family was forcefully evicted and thrown off the premises of their abode.
To squat at the mercy of friends and maternal family members.
Few months later.
A widow.
2 daughters and a son.
Took up residence in a windowless 8 by 8 feet store.
At Ojuwoye market… Mushin.
Where they grappled with gruelling heat.
Repulsive stench and the musical buzz of foraging mosquitoes.
Fortunate to have a meal twice a day.
Off the pittance the young widow made as an odd jobs woman.
In the sequence known to urban Nigerians as 1-0-1.
Which could easily turn a 0-1-0 combo on very lean days.
11 years at the time.
The young son manned up.
Earning a few bucks as an “Alaru” or one who carried other people’s goods for money.
The competitive nature of an “alaru” in a major market like “Ojuwoye”.
Got him beat up few times by older boys.
But no matter the bruises and swells.
The boy never stopped swinging unless he was knocked out or held down.
A trait that endeared him to the “Baba Oja”.
Who adopted and encouraged him to take up boxing lessons at a neighborhood gym.
Natural southpaw who could switch to orthodox comfortably.
It soon became clear to one and all.
That this tough kid was born to be a pugilist.
His repetoire included a fast footed.
Lightening power packed sucker punch.
4 years and series of amateur titles later.
He auditioned for a boxing tournament.
In the junior super featherweight category.
But just before the start of that tournament.
An American scout discovered him at the main bowl of Teslim Balogun stadium.
Surulere.
Beginning a journey to fame and superstardom.
That took him away from his family and the shores of his country.
Fast forward today.
4 years later.
A well built athlete walked along side his manager.
Into a decrepit store in Ojuwoye.
To the accompaniment of a large crowd which followed him.
Armed with a USA professional boxing license and more money than he needed.
As the surprised inhabitants of the store that was also their abode.
Blinked rapidly in recognition.
The young man simply uttered the words.
“Iya Mi”
Before being encircled in a bear hug by his mum and sisters.
Daniel Ibanga©


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