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Gbera: [verb]: To move, advance, or take off.

It has now been four weeks since Mike-O has been at the family house, with his parents, in Abeokuta. His father has been receiving a series of treatments which included physiotherapy and a strict diet. He has also begun treatment to help manage other adverse effects of his tobacco and alcohol consumption.

These past few weeks that Mike-O has been home, he has spent a lot of time with his mother, and as such, has heard a lot of things she has said to give him a new perspective of his father. He had spent the later part of his teenage years, and his early adulthood loathing his father for what he, Mike-O, considered as being unfairly pressured.

Mike-O has always had dreams and aspirations of his own, and those dreams usually revolved around his musical talents. He had learned from a very young age, how to play the drums, and would later go on to learn other instruments like the keyboard and guitar. He always told his friends and anyone else who cared to listen, that he was “going to become a rockstar!”

His father however, was having none of it. He would always say things like “You better face your books, so you can become a success”, and then as Mike-O grew older and began to grow older, and take music too seriously for his father’s liking, his father constantly berated him, saying things like “You can’t become anything with this nonsense!”, “I went to school, and even then, see where I am. You think you will be anything without education??”

All these things led to Mike-O deeply resenting his father, and eventually leaving home when he became old enough, and decided to tough it out in the city. At this point, his resolve to “gbera” was too strong for anyone, even his mother, to dissuade him.

His mother had never once treated him in the same manner as his father, but he had also never seen or heard her take his defense, so in Mike-O’s mind, it didn’t make much of a difference. It is in these past few weeks that he has begun to see and understand why his father seemed to be so hard on him.

“He has been seriously disappointed in life. He has tried too many things that didn’t work. He didn’t have a father to put him through on life decisions, and so he was carefree with everything, including his education” explains Mike-O’s mother. She continues, saying “That is why he was always so harsh. He wanted you to have a better footing in life, but he didn’t know another way of doing it. It frustrated him that you would not share his priorities”.

After long talk sessions with his mother, Mike-O decides that he is going to start a personal journey of forgiving both his parents, especially his father. Late one evening, he tells his mother that he will be leaving the next day. “I will be returning to Lagos tomorrow, mom”. His mom then asks “So soon? You won’t wait for your father’s full recovery?”. He simply responds “Mom, he will be fine. I can always come back later. but I have lots of things to do in Lagos, mo ni lati gbera“.

With that, his mom simply sighs and says a short prayer for him, knowing that there is little she can do to make him stay any longer than he is comfortable.

******** ******* ******** *******

Back in Abule, it is a Saturday morning, and this is usually characterized by the noise of young men playing street football, shouting, laughing, and sometimes cursing. Timmy is rushing to finish some work on his laptop before it runs out of power, as there has been poor supply of electricity in recent times.

As he frantically moves his his fingers around the trackpad, his phone rings. At first, he ignores the call. Why would someone be calling him at such a time as this? The phone continues to ring however, regardless of Timmy’s resolve to ignore it.

At the third ring, Timmy grumbles “Wetin happen?? Who dey bow my phone like this??” He swirls round from his PC, to pick his phone, which he fumbles initially but later gets a grip of. “Hello??” As the caller on the other end begins to speak, a noise from the footballers in the street overshadows the phone conversation. Apparently, a goal has been scored and the boombox suddenly starts playing Small Doctor‘s “GBERA”.

He moves a bit, away from the noise, and repeats “Hello?”. The female voice on the other end of the phone, answers “Timmy?”. Timmy takes a fraction of a second to try to search out the voice. It could be anyone, from his sisters, cousins, friends,…friends with benefits. He looks at the phone screen to see if he can see a name displayed, but he can’t. It’s an unknown number.

He then replies “Yes, I’m Timmy. Who’s asking?”, a hint of irritation in his voice. “It’s me Stephanie!” the caller answers, rather excitedly. Timmy immediately makes the connection. Timmy had met Stephanie through Twitter. She had needed help getting a new cover art for her music EP after her initial graphic artist fell out with her and insisted she refrain from using his art.

They had then exchanged phone contacts, and agreed to a deal, which they both honored accordingly. The last Timmy heard of Stephanie was after she had sent him the link to stream the EP upon its release. She also said she would be in touch in case she needed him again. But that was 9 months ago. The fact that she has called him now, is a bit of excitement for Timmy as well.

“Stephanie! Wow, it’s been ages o. How have you been?”. They both catch up for a bit, with Stephanie explaining that she had misplaced her old phone and therefore was unreachable for a while. She had had to revert to her Twitter DMs to find Timmy’s number. She has some good news.

“So, Timmy, I just got signed to Showtime Records and the boss has given me some creative freedom to retain some people I’ve worked with before, and because you did such an amazing job with my EP’s cover art, I’d like you to remain in my ‘team'”. Now, here Timmy is, sometimes barely even having enough to survive with, and this partnership could open more opportunities for him, as a music artist as well. He also thinks about Mike-O, who could definitely use the opportunity of being a signed DJ or producer. Timmy responds “That’s cool, Stephanie, I’m up for it”.

Stephanie on the other end, sounding pleased with his response, follows up saying “Perfect. I was hoping you’d be interested. Would you mind meeting up so we can go over further details and make this official?” Timmy laughs to himself. You dey whine me?? He promptly indicates that it wouldn’t be a problem. The call ends with them making arrangements to meet at Savannah Lounge, a popular hub for young people to “meet and chill”.

Timmy turns back to his laptop, which is close to shutting down due to low power. He doesn’t care though. The call from Stephanie has made his day. He keeps smiling as his mind goes through all the possibilities that this could mean for him. It seems like the patient dog is about to get a good meal. We what? We move!

By Oluwamayowa Akinyemi

Oluwamayowa Akinyemi

Oluwamayowa Akinyemi is a digital and web content developer with experience in web content development and management as well as research and writing. He is an avid reader of random subject matters and a sucker for movies and video games. He is also passionate about youth empowerment and is a global affairs analyst and enthusiast.