Kumolu managed to move away from all the pushing and shoving, clutching the bag of Semolina and small bag of salt she had managed to catch from the moving truck. She felt very lucky to have something, she knew that most of the women there would not get anything because there were so many people struggling to catch an item from the truck. Kumolu felt pleased with herself, it had been a lot of fun for her, in spite of the long wait for the campaign convoy. She was going to vote for them anyway, but now she would make sure she mobilised other people around her.

Taiwo stared at the colourful campaign truck driving past her shop, followed by a long line of vehicles. She had not seen such a spectacle in a long time. The truck was blaring out very loud music, and there were a lot of women on it, dancing and singing. She saw the women on the truck throwing out items such as rice, semolina, tea, milk and so on, and there was a mad rush for the free gifts. She thought to herself, ‘Foolish people. See how they are running. Hungry people. Will we see these politicians again after they win? Shio!’. Just as she was about to turn her attention away from the nonsense she was watching, she heard a thud. A small bag of rice thrown from the truck had landed on her table. She picked it up, shrugged her shoulders and thought, ‘At least I can say I got something. Let us hope they do well when they get there.’.

Mama Dayo’s head felt sore. She kept trying to rub her head but there was a bandage on it. Her daughter Dayo was furious with her. ‘What were you doing there Mama? You could have been killed!’. Mama Dayo smiled. She did not regret going to the rally to witness the roadshow of the Governor’s Wife. What she regretted was not getting a good look at the young fellow who had grabbed the package the Governor’s Wife had tried to hand over to her. If she had got a good luck at him it would have been easier for her to place a curse on him for cheating her. The hand came just out of nowhere and hit her at the side of the head, grabbing the package away before she could touch it. The security men tried to run after him but there were too many people. Mama Dayo fell and was trampled. Her head was bruised and bleeding and someone stepped on her shoulder. She had to be rushed to a nearby clinic. Mama Dayo did not mind all she had gone through. She looked at her hands. I am voting she said to herself. Two days later, Mama Dayo got a message from the Governor’s Wife. She had heard about how she had been hurt and taken to the clinic. Her medical bills were refunded, and Mama Dayo received a big box full of all the items people had been struggling for the other day. ‘I am glad I did not curse that young man. If I had I would have missed out on this blessing. We will vote for those who care for the poor and those who always look back,’ Mama Dayo said to her daughter. Dayo nodded her head in agreement.

Tawa could not help laughing when her husband Bode got home that night. He had a bag full of rice, semolina, tea, salt, milk, sugar, spaghetti and noodles. ‘Where did you get all this from’? She asked. ‘From the roadshow. They were moving around town campaigning and giving out things.’How come you got so much?’, Tawa wanted to know. ‘Well, I raced after their truck from town to town on my Okada. When they finish all their campaign talk, I make sure I move close to the place where they start to throw the gifts. Once I get one or two things, I quickly leave to wait for them at the next place’. ‘You have done well my husband. Be grateful that the road was good, otherwise it would have been very difficult for you. Our Governor built that road. That is why we voted for him last year, and we will vote for their party again’. Bode nodded and asked for a meal of Semolina.

Umar was at his wits end. He did not understand why young people could be so selfish and wicked. He saw so many old women being pushed and shoved out of the way, while the younger people grabbed the gifts and ran away. Even when Madam and her people asked some young volunteers to go around handing the gifts out, they too were mobbed. Some of the security officers grumbled that Madam was a stubborn woman.  The woman was always preventing them from doing their work as security officers properly.   No security person around her was allowed to misbehave. He heard that last year, while she was out campaigning for her husband, one of the security officers fired a shot into the air. She insisted on knowing who it was, but the other officers in her convoy claimed he was not one of them and that he had disappeared into the bush. They all knew she would have got him reposted. A few weeks before that, one of her friends had been shot by a careless Policeman and the person almost died, so no one was allowed to fire shots around her. As Umar tried to pull back a young man who had just snatched a bag of rice out of the hands of an old woman, he looked up and saw Madam beckoning to him. She handed him another bag of rice to give to the old woman. The old woman showered prayers on him, and he mumbled thanks and moved towards his vehicle.  Umar was relieved that he had been able to make the old woman happy and make up for what he termed his failure to catch the opportunistic fellow. He did not know that Madam had been watching, and he was pleased that she had not let the old woman go away empty handed. Umar said to himself that it was important to have stubborn people like Madam. They were the ones who made a difference.

Betty was very tired, her feet hurt, she had an upset tummy and she could feel the dust all over her body. Yet she kept dancing and smiling. Looking out at the crowds at each stop, a pattern emerged. The women would crowd round the truck to listen to the speeches of the politicians on the truck. Mostly, there would be no men around during the voter education or stomp speeches. As soon as the gifts started being handed out, the men would appear from nowhere, and the pushing and shoving would start. Within minutes, the old women would be pushed to the back. The younger women would hang in there for a while, but they would soon be shoved back by the men. Within five minutes, there would be no women close enough to the truck to get anything. Betty saw this as a metaphor for what happens in governance and development in all communities.

The strong and powerful always find a way to edge out the weak and vulnerable. The strong get even more powerful, while the weak get even more voiceless and powerless. No one was willing to share. No one wanted to be patient enough to wait for their turn. Betty saw the many children running around bare foot and out of school. The hundreds of young girls pregnant or with babies strapped to their backs. She flinched at the pain on the faces of the elderly when a young person snatched a parcel out of their grasp. It was heartbreaking. How did we get here? She wondered. Perhaps because we have all not cared enough and been too busy chasing after power and glory instead of serving people. In spite of all this, Betty was hopeful, because everywhere the campaign went, there were people who insisted that they knew the difference between a quick fix and a cure. They knew what they wanted for their communities and were willing to do what was required to get it. As the truck pulled out and she held on to the rails, the woman behind her said, ‘Madam, we have a lot of work to do at the next level’. Have a great week.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She is currently the 1st Lady of Ekiti State. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com





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15 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: The Roadshow

  1. Victor Udoh February 12, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Ma, why don’t you consider taking vying for an electoral post, maybe as senator or even governor sef. I think you should consider this, Above Whispers community, what do you guys think?

    • Femi Diipo February 13, 2019 at 1:29 am

      I have always asked this question. I anticipate the day I’ll see mama contest for a post cos I’m sure she’s gonna be great

  2. Veronica Imaseun February 12, 2019 at 10:55 am

    My concern is the intention of the FG. I know you are passionate about leading well and serving the people. I know you are a social change agent but we can’t say that for other politicians and they are the ones soiling your party. They are the ones making people think its all a scam from the beginning. I don’t know but I think the party needs to have a serious epiphany. I love your spirit ma. keep inspiring us and seriously, you should consider taking a position. You should

  3. DSEED February 12, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    God bless your heart ma. How I wish these are the things our leaders are after, atleast a sense of sympathy for the people it will go a long run. An act of service.

  4. Femi Diipo February 13, 2019 at 1:34 am

    As a child growing up in Ekiti, I was always one of those kids running around bare footed after politicians. Waves of politician will troop to Ipoti Ekiti and we will run around them looking and hoping for crumbs, and sadly a lot hasn’t changed since then. People still look out for these little things as motivation to vote and choose who will lead them and I’ve come to greatly disagree with such practises.
    I understand that in politics, especially Nigeria, a good intentioned politician must still do what must be done to achieve their goal and this tactic of food and item sharing is still very much valid. I look forward to the day you will take up a political candidacy ma’am, I really do

  5. Olabode Olasunkanmi February 13, 2019 at 10:42 am

    And here is a leader who’s passionate about the well being of the people. I agree with the rest of the commenters here, ma, take up a post. You will do extra great. Perhaps the new Nigeria we want is in your hands. Consider this.

  6. Jumai Ahmed February 13, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    You blow my mind always. Always. And I also join my brothers and sisters here in saying, you should vie for a position ma. We need your kind of heart in politics.

  7. Theresa Nelson February 13, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    What a sight. I remembered the floating truck story and how all it all went down. First, I must say you are an extremely creative woman and God bless you. For development in Nigeria, hmmmm. I really don’t know where we stand but I have discovered that nobody hurts us more than we hurt ourselves as citizens of the state.

  8. Olakunle Olajide February 13, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    This is one thing I don’t like in campaigning “the road show.” Though I understand its necessity, I am not just a fan of it. I am happy you were able to look back and help some people that were hurt but is there a way the distribution of free items can be orderly?

    Have age brackets and some other things that can help make an orderly approach, at least that will reduce a lot of injuries.

  9. Olumide Adegboye February 13, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    I know how this works because when I was younger I experienced this. I am really impressed that you didn’t sugar coat this. I am happy you said it how it was but at the same time from the place of passion.

  10. Olori Adeoye February 13, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    There are lots of women out there facing so many challenges and the men get the opportunity to help them and dash it for themselves. At least, the bike man went home to his family, some people won’t even go their family and show support na girlfriend go take am. May God help our society and well done ma. well done

  11. Lisa James February 13, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    Wow. must have been a serious work. a very serious work, But permit me to ask, where did you get all this energy from? You are a machine!

  12. Esther Aderanti February 14, 2019 at 11:47 am

    May we always be reminded that we are called to serve humanity.

  13. Oluchi February 14, 2019 at 11:54 am

    I can imagine how everyone was thriving to get sorted not minding the lives of other people.

  14. Eric Onuoha February 18, 2019 at 2:37 am

    Truly there is a difference between a quick fix and a cure. The question now is will these people receive such gifts after they have voted in these candidates on a regular basis or during another campaign? Let’s not be fooled by them.


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