In Twitter Street, Obiageli Iloakasia’s characters are Air. They go everywhere and serve purpose.. They breathe and live in every spheres of life — from entertainment, Oil and gas, Gossip mongers, Prostitutes, Mothers, Jokers, Aunties, Influencers, Pastors, Church members, the politicians to Motivational speakers etc. Every character and scene has dimension; every description take you back to every experience you’ve had on Twitter Street (if you have ever been there) which is different from Facebook Lane and Instagram Layout and Whatsapp Estate…”On this street (Twitter), almost everyone is mad!…Almost all the inhabitants of Twitter Street seem independent and WOKE”. Her voice resonates like funeral song— mixed feelings: the happy moments, sad moments and feelings that you would not see the one you sing for again. It is strong, lyrically tormenting and it trolls you to want to leave and never come back again but you are stuck in between like a water in a bucket: people come, drink, bathe and take you away to fit into a different container with a different shape.
Meanwhile, Obiageli gives each Street a compelling life, activities so real and cumbersome that mostly, they’re relatable with the happenings of today’s world— dramatic adventures that take shapes in different lives in our sagging and competitive world but most relatively, her ability to capture every detail in the street, the Lodge, Lane, Layout, Close, Zone, Estate, and the totality of human mischievousness makes it more elaborate for her to echo from the dubious lives of the characters she portrays and even more incandescent to their pretentious lifestyles and ability to change so fast and, easily like the chameleon in every giving situation. Hence, Normalcy has recently never been the order of the day in human life and activities especially with the advent of Social media wearing the faces of different Hashtags and trolling mechanisms.
Everybody wants to wear a face that is not theirs: “…Twitter Street is such a big place. Gradually, I’m realizing that those guys I used to look down on are now ballers!…” Some wants to ride a car that is not theirs and this, in many ways has introduced into the society some societal vices that make people want to be like that influencers on the street of twitter. That celebrity that bought bentley on Instagram and posted it and had people’s mouths gasped for air. That man of God seen on private Jet on Facebook and that Bobrisky—like boy who recently was endorsed on Twitter. That girl that married a man old enough to be her father and she’s wealthy now: ” …Don’t ask me how I knew. Twitter Street is an open place. You don’t hunt stories. Stories find their way to you…” These people have to make more noise with their Audio cars, Audio money, Audio houses, Audio Girl friends and most recently, Audio Iphone X max to maintain the status quo or rather to keep the streets more lively than others.
These Audio achievements have rendered many people useless in bid to be like the other persons who flaunt their wealth on social media like the girl arrested while she was taken a picture in front of someone’s house. However, the victims of this social media insecurities survive in some cases but sometimes when they’re troll, some of them give in to suicide at the long run because they could not withstand the tongue lashing of others: “…In church that Sunday afternoon, Lead Pastor suddenly shouted… ah, our church offering is not complete. It drew the attention of everyone present and they all gathered. Someone in the congregation suggested that everyone be searched. After the search, the money was found on no one. A first-time attendee casually said… Let’s search pastor and his wife too before taking the matter to the police station…At first, it sounded like a bad idea but it eventually happened. We did not even stress it. As soon as we pulled down pastor’s trousers, we saw squeezed one thousand-naira notes …Immediately, God’s Own Son shouted… ah, is that not the 1k I offered today? I remember it so well. That money was the only money in my bag for about a week. I did not use it because Pastor had told us the previous Sunday that this Sunday would be a Sunday to test the mighty power of God. ‘Bring all you have to him’ was what Pastor told us last Sunday….Mama, it’s Pastor. The Lord Be with You. She was shivering as she pointed at the Pastor on the ground.”
Oftentimes, it is us tying silence onto our lips that makes things happen the way they do and because we don’t teach dry leaves the hospitality of flame, we have learnt to cower with our dealings “…Knock Knock! Heya, good morning. It’s your Neighbour from flat 4. I’m dropping an envelope just by your door. When you get out, take it up. It’s for you! Imagine what someone I have not seen with my eyes is saying … I do not yet know so many people on this street as I have not been here for a very long time…” During the time of learning to adapt, we get ourselves into what may not end up the way we had planned it “…Within the Fashion Week period, I kept on trying to reach out to the brands that had earlier contacted me. They never took my calls. Not for once did they even try to even return it…” This is the measure it has stuffed ranging from keeping fire under the impression that we are all fine being on Twitter whilst we are dying outside the app. The beauty of knowing is the beauty in the inward remittance details of our very life.
The ninety-seven page book published by Libretto publishers captures a homestead, a beautiful and ruined land, hunger, brutality, a country on ravaging ruin, Confused people, people in search of identity, People trying to fit in, people trying to belong, People trying to survive, a wretched family, Jungle Justice, rape, assault, emotional molestation, lost hope, fake pastors, insecurities, Political favoritism, Bigotry, Killings: “…Throughout the whole of Twitter Street, everyone talked about the crisis that had broken out in Southern Kaduna, a neighbouring city…” Although Obiageli may not have been able to wear every shoe as a human or run different races because of the imperfections in the work of Art but, of course, she has her failures on not balancing someone her argument and the effect which occurs as humans on this very app try to feel among.
However, one of the most important events of 2020 that the book highlighted was the southern Kaduna Killings which took place between 19th and 20th July by armed assailants from Fulani ethnicity in communities within Southern Kaduna.
However, from the news that appeared disappointed on our television screen, we were told that, at least, 27 people were killed within a 24-hour period within the vicinity: “…With guns and machetes, these Fulani men attacked a wedding reception at a home in KuikumDaji Village in Kaura LGA at around 10:30pm, killing 15 and injuring about 30 people. Most of the victims were young people. Several survivors received treatment in medical facilities in Kafanchan, while others were transported to BaurauDikko hospital in Kaduna metropolis where three later died, raising the toll to 18…Just today, Twitter Street has recorded about 200 deaths. How is this happening? I know you would want to know! Most of the deaths is as a result of trying to settle matters that you know nothing about. You will just see people standing and talking. Before you know it, fight has started. When people die in the incident, they will include it to the number of deaths already recorded…” Another citation was the recently concluded USA elections and the follow up of the Hashtags that almost shut down twitter. The Endsars Protest by the Nigeria Youths. Then the book moved on to highlight to us the Lekki Massacre. Another key issues presented by the book was the outbreak of corona virus all over the world which rendered many people hopeless and the world economy was down: ” …From late 2019, we suddenly started to hear of a deadly virus that was fast killing people in China. As true Nigerians, we felt bad for them but we strongly believed that such virus would never thrive in Africa. How many black people have died of Malaria? We often asked…”
Likewise in relation with this, from time immemorial every human being tries to adapt to changes about his environments. He tries to tie his success story to what people perceived of him to be thereby holding exclusively this entitlement of being better and smarter than the person next door or the other in the same field of life. And this very enthusiastic entitlement of being better than the other influences him in judging others and otherwise intensifies man’s desire to achieve more irrespective of what is at stake at that moment in time.
Thus this would seem to make Obiageli an observer of an era full of dramatic chaos of pretentious humans and perhaps more eloquent than the sagging voices out but she builds more curiously with her articulation of what matters to today’s society and how in recent times, a dubious or strangely life is more glorisfied than a noble life. You have to falsify your identity in order to fit in or belong to the cliques of the movers of our dear society.
It is so refreshing reading from a different perspective that is perhaps not mine or others but this particular voice and, this voice echoes differently from the usual. Iloakasia is such a brave writer to have jumped into this fire which scared the heart out of many writers and came out bolder. Frankly, she indeed has made a mark which would be spotted and pointed at when a reference is to be made on how twitter and other relevant issues in general has turned our head from what it used to be and what it is now. Then, we will remember that we have been boys and girls answering calls with the shape of immunity that is not ours now and always but borrowed.
John Chizoba Vincent is a poet, Author, Cinematographer and filmmaker. He was born and brought up in Aba and later moved to Lagos where he had his tertiary education . His works have appeared on allpoetry, Voicesnet, Poetrysoup Poemhunter, Africanwriter, TuckMagazine, Gaze,naijastories, Praxismagazine, Nairaland, black boy reviews and forthcoming in BrittlePapers. His writings have featured in many anthologies both home and abroad. He has five books published to his credit which includes Good Mama, Hard times, Letter From Home, For Boys Of Tomorrow. He lives in Lagos where he writes.