questions-aheadAkpanobong looked up at the sky, dollops of sweat trickling down his grimy face. The huge ball of the sun flared and burnt wildly, with circles of hues appearing around it. Akpanobong shook his head gently. He had no wristwatch but with the sun burning so brightly, he was certain it was past mid-day already. It had been a long time since he had decent food – since any member of his family had decent food – and he was certain today was going to be no exception. Before leaving the house earlier in the day, he had promised his aged mother and little sister that he was going to return home before midday with lunch. His stroke-stricken mother who was confined to a wheel chair only nodded wearily. His little sister heaved. It was not the first time Akpanobong would be leaving home with such promise. It had become a tradition and the two members of his family expected the same speech every morning.

Akpanobong who was now sitting by a gutter along Osongama road shook his head again. This was not the life he had wanted – a life where his family’s next meal was down to fate. Ever since he lost his father on his sixteenth birthday some three years ago, the mantle of fatherhood rested on Akpanobong’s little head. He had had to do every menial job out there – from lifting blocks at building sites to picking items from dump sites for sale to recyclers. But today, he had gone round the whole Itiam Etoi village in search of any menial work, yet no luck was forthcoming. Even the dump sites usually scattered all over the village seemed to have been cleared, no thanks to the Operation Keep Akwa Ibom Clean (OKAC) initiated by the Akpabio led government in Akwa Ibom state.

“Unam ikot!” Akpanobong cursed the Governor under his breath. He could not understand why every state policy, initiative or scheme seemed to be targeted at him. The other time, as soon as he purchased an old enang ukwak to join in the ala alog business, the Governor placed a ban on enang ukwak riders; then he decided to get a keke on loan so he could ply transportation business along Wellington Bassey road – a road which led to the State House and other prime areas in the State, but the Governor made a policy restricting the movement of keke drivers in the area. Now, he was into picking recyclable items from waste sites and the Governor thought it necessary to Continue reading