Surrounded by hills and valleys, tall trees and plants, a lonely snake like road leads to a place called Mpape, a wild jungle where you would not wish your enemy to live. A little place it is, yet densely populated. Life here is a nightmare, a place of unrest. Where do I begin from?
Mpape is a little place located not so far from the heart of the federal capital territory of Nigeria, i.e. Abuja. Its residents are lured into its claws by the fact that it is close to the town only to find themselves in a horrible nightmare. Hooked by their rent and the difficulty of accommodation in this state, they brass up for the horror in which they find themselves. Only one road leads both in and out of these dreary place, causing a constant traffic jam for those going out and those coming in at all hours of the day. This is now responsible for the fact that car drops are a no there, only buses ply the roads because the taxi men complain understandably of the hold up in this area. It is filled also with motor cyclists and their bikes weaving in and out of traffic with passengers behind them whose hearts are in their mouth due to fear for their lives. Quarries are also located in this place, hence there is constant movement of big trucks and tippers in and out of this place, lives are often lost on the roads of this place because sometimes, a truck or tipper might lose its brake or a motorcyclists runs into one in trying to weave through the traffic. Staying in mpape is a daily fight for your life, for your very existence and survival. Rocks are often blasted by the quarries in this place, causing houses to tremble as though they were about to fall, a manmade earthquake if you ask me. At several times ,I found my heart clutched to my chest at the end of such a quake praying the house would not give way as I was a victim once of a falling roof.
The environment is so rowdy and the roads not so good, therefore there is a lot of dust constantly in the air that have been raised by the passing trucks. The long time residents of this place have grown used to it and so visitors like me are easily spotted by the fact that we make attempts to cover our noses from the invasion of dust. Constantly, I wonder how the schools in this place operate and how the kids fare academically as deep into the night the place is still noisy from trucks passing and horning to motorcyclists riding their bikes even to music from drinking joints around, yes, they do have time to relax their bones from a stressful day of work but at the expense of other residents and kids in the area.
This place is filled with people of limited means, hence one isn’t so offended as you get pushed, shoved and matched as you walk around the area, they all seem to be in a hurry but hurrying where? You ask yourself, children crying and shouting, others playing and running on the busy roads makes you wonder what species of animals these are. Even at the market place, wares are sold in wheelbarrows that are placed almost on the road making it narrower for motorists. A house with a fence around it is a luxury in this place and thus is hardly ever seen, people in such houses are termed rich by the residents here, ignoring the fact that the compounds of these houses are so small the occupants, if they own cars, merely manage to park their car each day. The bulk majority of vehicles in this place are buses and ironically, taxis. At night they are lined up on the side of the road, their parking lot for the night. The houses here are crammed together and filled with people ,in a room, you could have like six to eight people, sleeping on the floor and mattress as they dim fit. At morn, this endless stream of people surge endlessly to the bus stops where the buses are insufficient and so they have to struggle and fight with each other pushing their way into the available seats of the bus, for one with no experience at struggling for a space in a bus, this can be really frustrating because you have to struggle when leaving mpape to town and when returning from town to mpape. People struggle and enter through the windows and sometimes even through the boot of the buses. At night, few buses ply the route as the others may have retired for the night hence causing the wait for a bus and the struggle to get in one grow more intense as the night goes deeper.
Life in Mpape is really a tough battle ,a nightmare as earlier stated but the irony of it all ,is the fact that it is surrounded by two places called Maitama and Asokoro, places of luxury, paradises where the majority of the la crème de la crème of Abuja live. Places where ministers and senators live, where governors have their guest houses and lodges, yet in their very midst is this horror of a place, this dehumanizing place called Mpape.