I’m writing this letter to explain a few things about the country you will grow up in, and among other things, apologize. I’m apologizing, not for bringing you into this world, but for the thought that you may be born into this country of your father. Since we began thinking about having you, our toughest decision has been if we want you to come from the same country as your parents. You may not understand why we are afraid of having you be born in our country, we know you would love to be, but at the end of this letter, you will understand.
Please do not be too confused, if a few of the stories you will find in this letter do not make sense, because the country of your father makes no sense, even for people as old as your daddy, or even much older.
You really must understand that you must keep strictly to your birth schedule, to allow us prepare adequately for your birth, including getting your mum to hospital and making sure she is well tucked in and ready to go. Of course you will need to give us a bit of additional time to bring extra diesel to the hospital, just in case. You cannot try any foolish tricks like coming early, or being born while your mum is still home, because (you won’t believe this either) much as you think this is 2012, we still do not have ambulances running here. The doctors here are also really bad, so we need to ensure your mum gets to the fancy hospital we specially paid for.
Since the day the doctors said we could, we have been looking you up through fancy hospital screens. A few weeks back, your mummy had a scan to check if you had any defects. We found none. I’m not sure you like it. But you should understand this is a critical – and that you’re lucky we can even do this in your daddy’s country. these simple scans cost so much, you would never believe it, but again, that is because you’re lucky. Many children in the country are born without even seeing a hospital, and some die with their mums as they are being born.
It’s difficult for me to explain how bad healthcare in this country is, until I tell you that your daddy’s brother died a few years ago from cancer. The oyibo doctors in London said he would have been saved if he had seen a doctor earlier. But he did see a doctor, the ‘best’ neuro guy in the country who insisted it must be anxiety that caused his headaches – maybe exam fever. But your uncle was a scholarship student, and made 8 As in his SSCE, despite writing some papers from the clinic. It wasn’t exam fever; it was the beginnings of the tumor, which later killed him. We have taken our healthcare to extremes since then, because the doctors in your daddy’s country must be feared, and treated with extreme caution.
Every couple of hours or so, I’m sure you notice the place goes dark for a minute or so. It’s NEPA! They’re either coming or going, and the ‘gen’ has to take over. Those weeks when the light didn’t flicker? Oh, your mummy was in America, or Europe I think. Believe me, you’re lucky your light only just flickers. Your mates all over the country see a lot worse – it stays dark for days, then it flickers, then goes dark again for days. No, dear boy, these people don’t like staying in the dark, but the people your daddy and his friends helped put into power, the people half the country queued in the sun to put into government, decided it would be best they stayed in the dark, so they can be proud owners of Porsche Cayennes and Swiss bank accounts.
It’s your education that scares me most. I do not even know where to begin to explain this topic to you. A few days ago, the government people came out to say that in some states, even the big teachers who should be teaching children cannot read. They cannot even read this letter you are reading! So your mummy and me are setting up a fund for you, so you can go to a good school, and when you’re old enough, send you to a country where you can get quality education. The thing is, even the expensive schools we will be sending you to are only slightly better than public schools in other countries.
After the many years of tough schooling you will need to go through, believe it or not, you will have to put your dreams aside, everything you had wanted to be, for one year, so you could go count cattle in a remote village. This, my dear child, is called serving your country, without which you may never get an establishment job, or a chance to aspire elective office in your fatherland. It could get worse, if the government people decide you should take a break from counting cattle and come help with elections – well, your future country people who do not like the person who won the elections could come and kill you and your friends, just because you are ‘serving’.
There is good news though. Your daddy’s country has the happiest people in the whole word. In spite of all the struggles, we still try to be happy, and throw owambes to celebrate anything we can celebrate. Recently though, the owambes have been moved indoors, because some of your daddy’s country people got really angry and are now bombing anyone who gathers in crowds larger than three. They also bomb schools and places of worship, but it’s schools they must really be angry at, because their name means “School is Bad”.
But you’re lucky – your dad can even afford to think these thoughts. Many children who are coming in your batch, waiting to be born here, will not have the opportunity to be thought of in these terms.
So, dear boy, you see why I started out apologising to you. You see why your daddy’s friends say that this is not a country? It is a country by name, yes, but everything that should have made it a country has found a way to not happen. Yes, we are thinking that maybe you should be born away from this country of your fathers, but if you are born and find that your passport is Green, we plead, dear son, that you forgive us.