Friday, 10 March 2017

My Nigerian Prince

It would appear that I am being cared for by a Nigerian prince! My Home Care Aide, Michael, revealed to me today that his is from a local royal family in Nigeria. He is, in fact, first in line for the throne. His cousin is the current "Oba", their local equivalent of a king. Michael, it seems, came to Canada to escape the responsibilities of his role, his own father being the first prince to the "Oba". He saw what it did to his father's life and decided he didn't want that, as a young man.

This "kingdom" of Micheal's is no small matter. In Nigeria there are a great many petty kings, each ruling a town or village of varying size. The position is hereditary and works within the construct of local government, bridging the gap between tribalism and democracy. As the wars within the regions have shown, it can be a shaky bridge. More than once Michael has suggested that returning to live in Nigeria has risks for him; now I understand better what they are.

Today we were talking about his plans. There is some pressure on him from family and local government to return to Nigeria and take up his position in the royal family. This is no small kingdom; it is a region about the size of Calgary, with about the same population.  He is thinking of going back, uncertain as to whether or not he wants to.

I ask him why not. He went on to describe a complex life where he would have to deal with the issues of witch doctors and superstition, corruption, and constraints on his own lifestyle. "If I wanted to go into MacDonald's for a burger, I could not, because that would not be right as the prince." He told me the story of another Oba in another town who tried to change the old ways and was killed for his efforts. Superstition dies hard in any culture, especially an uneducated one.

He is not sure if he will go. He is in his mid-fifties. He says he has had his opportunities in life. He is getting tired of the cold in Calgary and he misses his family in Nigeria. He has substantial property there. It would be a good way of life, except for the job of being next in line for the throne. Oh, and the possibility of getting killed if he steps too far out of line.

You see, we all have constraints on our lives. We all have opportunities in our lives. We all have choices to make. Mine are, in so many ways, simple choices. Micheal's choices are much more complex. Yet here we are, both trying to figure out what to do with our lives.


  1. Such a very interesting story! with a fantastic philosophical observation as a bonus!

  2. Wow! Fascinating. Thank you for sharing his story.