My heart drummed in my chest as I stood offstage listening to the MC introducing the next speaker to an expectant crowd. It couldn’t be that I was showing symptoms of stage fright, could it? My head felt light and my palms were slightly sweaty.
Anyways, he finally finished his narration and I stepped onstage to raucous applause. The unexpected but very enthusiastic reception from the audience encouraged me as I took a deep breath to steady myself before launching into my routine without further ado.
“Good day Mr Chairman, Panel of Judges, accurate time-keeper and my co – debaters. I’m here today to support the motion that family is actually more than a blood connection.
The word family for me goes beyond a reference to parents, siblings or other blood relatives. My family includes certain people with whom I share no common lineage or ancestry, but whose lives are so intertwined with mine that any severance would lead to a serious crisis in my established routine. Such is my dependence on these people, for being who they are and for doing what they do, that without the benefit of their support, I’d simply crumble or fold under the pressure of my daily struggle. I’m sure you all have people who do same for you, propping you up and helping you in your daily pursuits of greatness.
Below is an abridged list of people who I now consider ‘family’ due to the important roles they play in my life every day.
Baba Kemi (Night Security Man)
That I live a million miles from the office means I have to leave home before the cocks start to crow and return just about when witches head to their meetings. Baba Kemi is the guardian of the gates to my street, without whose benevolence my comings and goings would probably be more difficult. That I can identify his silhouette in the dead of night though his face I’ve never seen by the light of day should give you an idea of our special connection. He is family.
Sunny (Danfo Driver)
Danfo driver with an acceleration foot that is made of stone, as is typical of his ilk in Lagos. Though he plays his music just a tad too loud, too early, being the first means of conveyance out of my area on work days means Sunny is a life saver. That I have a job to go to, that my name is rarely found on the Office’s late coming roster is testament to his hard work and dedication. God bless him.
Taiye ‘Osaaro’ (Food seller)
Her morning dose of steaming Rice and Beans is the breakfast of Champions that gives one the strength to be ‘Hercules’ as work starts. The mountain of Fufu and Egusi she serves late in the afternoon makes a molehill of the endless hours of traffic I face on the return journey home. Taiye’s service to humanity is beyond compare, ranking close to the United Nations in my humble estimate.
The Company employed a clerk while providence added the bonus of a ‘Telecom Service Provider’. What would my ‘phone life’ be without her ‘buy now and pay later’ policy? Yvonne’s all-in-one airtime store satisfactorily caters for all my voice and data needs plus the occasional ‘please send me a recharge card’ request. She is important for global harmony, trust me.
As the ‘anchor’ leg of my daily home/office relay, Ik’s place is assured on my list. The day his old bike got arrested by Fashola’s people, I mourned with him. When he finally gathered enough money to buy a new 150cc, I popped an extra bottle of coke to celebrate (aside from the 1k, which was my personal contribution to the fund-raising). Ik can be relied on to get me safely from the bus stop to my street gate, regardless of time and weather, every night without fail. You can swear by his service.
Note that for all of them, we shared not one strand of DNA as at when we met. Today however, the story is different. We are now family.
I hope with these few points of mine; I’ve been able to convince and not confuse you that family is so much more than a blood connection.
Cue applause. Curtseys.