At the prison gate in Okigwe Imo state when we touched down. An officer asked us to open the packages we have brought for the prisoners for check up. Another officer came to inform us that they are trying to arrange a hall for them to get in before we could go inside. While talking he looked at me in particular and said “oboy you look like a Muslim”. I put up a smile, though not all of them heard, they mumbled. One asked the other in Yoruba tongue, what did the officer say about Jaja?
They double checked us and our token of gifts; we left all of our phones with them. The leader of our team was the zonal papi, the rest were zonal uncle (Oguchi), zonal rugged, zonal mamo, DD, Femi, Busayo, Rebecca, Mercy, AY, then me.
The team went to preach, to evangelize the prisoners. Me, I really went because I wanted to understand some people's situations. Unfortunately, we couldn't talk with them, couldn't ask them questions and we were secluded away from them. But I watched them closely from a distance and I felt tear drops at the rear of my eyes but I didn't let them come out. My heart was poised, my mind rioting in thoughts.
Though so dark the con man, I began to wonder what could be these people's crimes and how long they have been there and how much longer they may be in there, were some of them for life, some for few years?
Seeing those men there young and old, the smiles on their faces that hid their agony, their pain and their will to see and firmly hold the world again outside the prison walls, the depth of solitude that their hearts have been confined to over the years. The gazes in their eyes, thoughts they may be having, the enthusiasm in some of them suggest to me that they really felt things could have been any different now than ere for them. The old people may be wishing their children they have left behind are going to school. They looked at us we are very young and have come to preach the good news and the knowledge of Christ to them.
Before we'd leave that morning I read from the Bible a portion I stumbled into in Ecclesiastes 3:12. I understood that we all need happiness and can be happy free and bound, innocent and guilty, slave and master, prisoners and wardens etc.
In the prison walls it is different with them. They play football plus other skills they may be learning for survival after prison life, which is the driving force of man's ultimate instincts for work.
A man born in prison, a man who had little life lived in the free world then confined to prison for a lengthy period of years doing time and you, born, bred and lived life where no one regiments your routine and you consider yourself as free man, what's the difference between you two?
My perspective had actually changed when on 24th November this year, the unexpected happened to me before watchers who couldn’t come to help, I finally understand why some of those prisoners are within those walls, some are probably there because of petty thievery like harassing, trying to stab people and taking their phones, taking their purse. However, I believe there’s a prize we all have to get on the basis of our everyday routine. This change of mind as said on that date happened when two assailants attacked me, they both held me by the waist and I them, accusing me of hurting one of them when actually it was the first time I would ever have to see them that night, one said "stab this nigga" and the other reached for something like a knife or any other sharp object in his pocket and tried to pin it on me. I had to release an arm from one of them in order to stave off the shredding weapon and in the course of the scuffle they managed to get my phone to themselves and they vanished into the dark....
Life goes on.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.