Chapter One

Imagine your parents dumped you in the middle of the desert in order to teach you a lesson; no food, no water, no phone and, of course, no Facebook. You looked around and cried for help, but no one showed up. You started to get really hungry and thirsty. Just when you were about to faint, you saw some lizards idling around. You’d never eaten lizards before, but you were starving…. What would you do?


I won’t waste time on the reasons my parents sent me away to another country for my Tertiary education so as not to make this story about me or anyone else. This is not a story of people’s experiences in the struggle for survival, but a story of the struggle itself; how prolonged suffering can strip a society of virtue and turn humans to beasts. It’s like Julia said in the movie entitled Original Sin, portrayed by the renowned actress, Angelina Jolie: “Julia said, ‘this is not a love story, but it is a story about love. About those who give in into it and the price they pay and those who run away from it, because they do not believe they’re worthy of it. She ran away. He gave in….’”

The greatest struggle for survival is not the hard labour (with incommensurate wage) we undertake for our daily bread; to put food on our tables, roof over our heads, cloth on our naked bodies or the rituals we perform to see the dawn of a new day instead it is the fight to remain sane and virtuous as we stand at the crossroad of bestiality and humanity being daily tortured by the cruel fingers of poverty and sustained under-development.

Life here is a daily test of resolve; I will not steal to eat; I will not let this anger consume me; I will not yell in the street; I will not repay evil with evil; I will not stop looking for a job until I find one even if I die trying; I will not be afraid; I will not marry for the money; I will not give in to hard drugs and alcohol to forget my misery. I will not do this, I will not do that, I will do this, I will do that…. Why should one have to memorize codes to live by each day in a country where things could’ve been much simpler and easier? Why should people be carried to the unlocked door of sanity and left there without restraints? It used to be, ‘Get a good education and welcome to paradise,’ but now, hmmmm, you would be fortunate to get a ‘p’ of the paradise, which in the end means nothing….

That’s the nature of life in the Island, yet you have a choice to hope for the best because the worst is always a whisker away. You struggle through school, struggle to find your daily bread, struggle through rough paths to your destination and struggle to find the good things of life. Believe me when I tell you that many men would trade this for nine months pregnancy and labour pains. After all, it has a stipulated period!

The unending uncertainties amidst the twists and turns of life make people do just about anything to balance the books. There are no laws that can’t be reinvented, hence no crime that can’t be reconstructed. The only crime you commit is to be poor and deprived of the backing of the system. As long as you are the system or have loads of money, your sins are visited with, but, a slap on the wrist. Oh, the power of money here! It turns bitter enemies into sweet friends.

This condemnation upon the poor put many on a goose chase to grab all they can in order to be shielded from scorn, humiliation, intimidation and procure immunity from prosecution of crimes and even, supposedly, a gate pass to heaven.

In a different land like Greenland, where I came from, being rich or comfortable is normal because the system, like a Guardian Angel, seems to beckon on you: “Come eat the good of the land.” The opposite is the case in the Island: “Dare it if you can” it seems to say. In the Island, you have to work twice as hard without a guarantee of success. Little wonder the pursuit of lofty achievements and wealth turns men into beasts, breaking the inner carnal of reasonableness and afflicting the body so that people who dare walk the path purchase tons of pills as daily supplements in a bid to enhance their life expectancy to a little above two score.
Who would spend his life on such a quest with the road stacked with dangerous loops yet success uncertain? This hopelessness beats most dwellers as they rather partake in the rat race than some fundamental illusion of being rich in a system that is set up for people to fail, because it’s not set up at all. Any system lacking an architectural design or plan for its citizen’s success has been premeditated to be their graveyard. How can the economy be viable without Industrialization? How do Entrepreneurs operate without electricity, pliable roads, adequate security, and policies made with Sectional interests? How can the common masses become comfortable when the minimum wage is but a slap of meal on Oliver’s plate?

Wage isn’t commensurate to labour as the average earner makes at most three dollars daily and can hardly afford to meet a quarter of their needs; they have to do all sorts of things, be it lawful or unlawful, to make up for the other three-quarter.

After living in the Island for a year, I just couldn’t figure out how the lower class managed to live.
I once asked Andre, a friend I made at the University, “Can you please tell me how a man who makes about a dollar daily fends for his household? How the people who run after moving vehicles on the highway selling toothpicks or petty items, from dawn to dusk, manage to survive? How a girl without parental support or social security is able to graduate from school?”

He had been blunt. “Mind your own business. Soon you will be too busy trying to survive that you won’t bother to give a fleeting thought to another person’s suffering. It’s what the Island does to you,” he said distastefully.
That’s what the Island does to you.

These words will pursue me like a madman in my dreams for many years because of what the Island did to me!

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