Aftermath

White HouseThe lady in the above picture is not my wife. She is Malaika Judd a principal and mentor at Savannah Fund. She was in Lagos in the last week of January. The 3rd class of the Savannah Fund accelerator was starting and she came in to Lagos to meet start-ups in our tech space.

Today marks the beginning of Spring. Winter was cold and harsh. I am grateful I got out in one piece. Whenever you are in a new country, the hardest times are the first 2 months. You are more or less an observer in that country even the one you grew up in.

This week on Tuesday the 25th, I witnessed a woman fight a conductor over 50 naira. In Ghana that would be 50 pesewas while in Kenya, it would be 25 shillings. Everyone in the bus apart from myself took sides and was shouting. I just looked and observed.

The aftermath of being away for 18 months is that I have forgotten how to be a Nigerian. I have lost my aggression. February would see me learn how to put on a generator. Its been so long that I have forgotten. I have forgotten a lot of things. Small details that would mark you out as an alien. That question has come up once in the last month.

But here we are in Spring saying “Thank God Winter is Over”.

Homecoming

By the time you read this, I will either be on my way home or be with my family for Christmas.

I only write this because I feel that some things must be written. Its a long journey home and in the words of a good soldier “If I don’t make it back, I need to know that I left nothing unsaid”.

I left Nigeria on Thursday 28th of June 2012. I had always wanted to leave Nigeria since I heard about Ghana. I first heard about Ghana in 2007. That was a horrible year for me and Ghana seemed to offer the promise of a second chance.

On that fateful day, I took the leap of faith. If you have seen The Dark Knight Rises, you would know what I am talking about.

For a time in my life, I was really angry. Angry at God, the people in my life but above all I was angry at myself. I had become toxic. I could not be reasoned with. In my whole life, I have never felt as angry as I did in those times.

The time I left was the initial days of the Nigerian technology space invasion. I looked at my future and only saw my eventual extermination. In the time I have spent away, the invaders have nearly taken over the land. Against educated bullets, untutored courage doesn’t stand a chance.

I have been away for 544 days. In all that time, I was finding myself but I didn’t know I was lost. I left because I was bleeding on the inside and taking it out on those close to me. When the invasion would start, I would be one of the earliest casualties.

It didn’t matter if I had poured 2 years of my life into trying to build a game studio. All that mattered was that I was born African, born poor and  thus condemned to have the things I cared about taken from me.

In a final desperate tactic, I did what Théoden would do in the Lord of the Rings. I rode out to meet my destiny. To secure an end to a problem I have had for as long as I could remember or to die in the attempt.

I found the story of the Polish Calvary Charge inspirational. In 1939 Germany would invade Poland. In a futile attempt to repel the attack, the men of the Polish Calvary would attack Hitler’s forces.

Picture this: Men on horseback versus war tanks. It wasn’t battle, it was slaughter. Yet they would die easiest. After Hitler would invade, no Polish youth could hope to die at home. They would be shipped off to die in camps.

As if that wouldn’t be bad enough, after Germany would be defeated, the Russians would move in and continue where the Germans left off. By the time communism would fall in 1989, Poland would be a very sad place to live in.

1939 – 1989 is 50 years of oppression and suppression. Did the men of the Polish Calvary make the right choice? I leave that to you. Did I make the right choice with my life? Yes.

My life changed for the better. Yet it was not without cost. I had to leave everything and everyone I cared about before I destroyed the very things I cared about.

What I gave up, I gave up to keep safe.

At the end, I am sorry everyone. I needed time to heal alone. I am whole now and I am coming home!

This is Truston Ailende signing off on the year 2013. Thanks you for reading.

Leaving My Comfort Zone

comfort zoneI left Nigeria for Ghana on June 28 2012. Today I have been away for 531 days. It has been a roller coaster. I have slept in some really horrible places and been through hell. Yet my life is better for it.

Today, my only regret is still that I should have started this journey years ago. Last decade when I first caught wanderlust, I should just have left. But then I didn’t. The limits society placed on me still had an effect and I was trying to be a patriot.

Now that ship has sailed. I am a Renegade Knight. I still believe in the ideals that I was raised with but I no longer believe in the world they were made for.

So on that faithful Thursday. I stepped out of that world. I didn’t know what I was doing was impossible so I made it happen. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have made the attempt. I might have stayed in my comfort zone.

By stepping out, I would find a zone where magic happens. I call it Death Ground. There is nothing glorious about it just a man trying to bend the universe to his will. Death Ground requires a deep seated conviction about what is acceptable in one’s life.

In my time away, I have seen the universe bend to my will. Making it rain in the desert always has a price and I have paid my bill in full.

Any fool can learn how to command. True greatness happens when we learn how to conquer. By stepping out of my comfort zone. I learned how to conquer.

My life is richer for the experience.

Desiree

Start-up WeekendLast week was DEMO Africa. It is the biggest gathering in the African Tech Space. I was engaged at the iHub so I couldn’t attend. For me it was an opportunity to re-connect with old friends.

First off I am the guy wearing the suit. Desiree is the lady beside me. I first met her in September at Start-up Weekend in Nigeria. She is one of the few female programmers that I respect.

In 2012, I would leave Nigeria to Ghana and she would later leave to the UK. DEMO Africa brought her to Kenya and I have been here for the last 63 days because of Savannah Fund.

It was nice meeting someone I knew before I left Nigeria. Back of that is the possibility of reunion with my own family. Desiree has since returned to Lagos.

The possibility of a reunion with loved ones keeps a warrior fighting to return home.

Scars

kenshiWe all have things in our past that we regret. Wounds that are closed but still hurt. Yet those scars teach us. They are proof that we have survived and are still fighting.

Scars are medals branded on our flesh and hearts. Our enemies who are aware of our scars will be frightened by them because they are proof of our long experience of battle. Often this will lead them to seek dialogue and avoid conflict.

But for those who want a fight, they are also proof that we will not be backing down. My scars give me resolve. I think about what I have lived through and it gives strength to my failing arms. On the days when I think of quitting, all that makes me say not today is the knowledge of what I have already survived.

My scars make me formidable!