Our story begins with a young man named Akin, whose ancestors were from Remu, a city he knew nothing about.
Akin had finished secondary school and was hustling on the streets of Lagos. He returned home to Yomi, his friend, who ensured he had a place to stay after his parents died and his relatives took the house in Igando.
“See, I’m tired of this life… This can’t be it now,” he said, turning to his friend Abayomi, whom they mostly called Yom Yom. Abayomi has allowed Akin to live with him since his parents died in an accident. It wasn’t like they were rich, but he didn’t have to worry about where to stay. But not anymore. His so-called relatives collected the two-bedroom flat his father managed to build in Igando.
“Akin, you don’t start again; just go to Mr. English’s shop go collect Garri and 50-naira groundnut, tell am say I go pay.” (Akin, you have started again, please go to Mr. English’s shop and purchase Garri and groundnuts of 150 naira, I will pay him tomorrow) Yomi responded.
“Yomi, that’s not what I’m talking about,” he said in frustration.
“Look at my life; nothing is working for me. I can’t even feed. There is an investment Quadri told me about.” He paused and looked at Yomi with soulful eyes.
“Can you lend me 50,000 naira? I swear, Yomi, I will pay you back.”
“I don’t have,” Yomi said immediately before Akin could complete his sentence.
Yomi then mentioned the 2000 naira he still needed to pay back and asked how he could borrow 50,000. Akin was visibly frustrated. He knew Yomi had done so much for him.
Yomi then told him about the heirloom he hung on his chest and encouraged him to sell it.
He said, “You might get 50,000 naira if you sell it.”
Akin possessed an ancient heirloom passed down through generations—a mysterious pendant with intricate markings and a jewel that seemed to shimmer with secrets.
Akin had never thought of selling it. It was the only thing he had gotten from his parents, but now that Yomi mentioned it, he felt that only the living could keep an heirloom. He decided to ask Mr. English if he wanted to buy it.
Unbeknownst to Akin, the heirloom held the key to a hidden legacy that would soon unravel.
Yomi was right about one thing: he was hungry and didn’t have the money to afford Garri. So he went straight to Mr. English but couldn’t collect another credit; instead, he caressed the pendant on his neck as he stood in front of the shop.
“Mr. English,” he called softly.
“I want to sell this pendant. Do you like it?”
Mr. English is a name given to Joseph Ajayi because he spoke clear English and loved to read. Under different circumstances, he would have been a college professor. But the scales of life tilted, but not in his favour.
Mr. English collected the pendant and observed it closely as a visible shock. Surprise could be seen perfectly blended on his face. “Where did you get this?”
Akin explained that he inherited it. Mr. English brought out an old book and told him to look at its content, and if he wanted to sell it by tomorrow, he should return it.
He left before collecting the Garri and groundnut so he could live tomorrow.
And so the story about Remu begins…
In the heart of Nigeria, nestled between the ancient lands of Ibadan and Osun, lay the remnants of a once glorious city, now lost to time and buried in the sands of forgotten history. Its name, long erased by the ravages of centuries, whispered only in the winds that carried tales of its grandeur. It was a city that stood tall and proud, a beacon of prosperity and harmony until a dark fate befell it.
Remu was the pride of the West and the country’s happiness, but where is Remu today? What happened to the once-prosperous city of Remu? Who understands the mysteries of the great king Ajagbon and his estranged wife? Rumours have it that the great king maltreated his wife that calamity befell the city. But that was all it was: rumours. The city and its people were all wiped out of existence. But why, Remu?
The great city with no oil or minerals. With deep waters that lack coral. The town has no fertile land and no rubber. So, where did her wealth of Remu come from?
Akin flipped to the next page and realized it had 5 sections with pictures. With each page, it told the tale of Remu.
The first page of the ancient book beckoned Akin with its faded yet vivid illustrations. He saw bustling images of traders from different regions approaching the gates of Remu, laden with goods and merchandise. The grandeur of Remu lay not in its vast resources but in the ingenuity of its people. King Ajagbon, depicted sitting on a majestic throne alongside his council of elders, had instilled a belief that the river held a wealth of gold, attracting these traders.
Akin imagined the bustling activity at the gates—the animated discussions, the vibrant market ambience, and the exchange of goods that breathed life into Remu. Enticed by the illusion of gold, the traders traded with the Remu people, unknowingly fulfilling their needs and flourishing the city despite its seemingly scarce resources.
On the second page, Akin was transported to a different era. He saw his ancestors engaging with white men, navigating the complexities of international trade. Rubber farmers and traders had been drawn to Remu through these trade relations. The Remu people exchanged rubber and palm oil for weapons. This strategic move bolstered the city’s defences and contributed to its prosperity.
Akin could visualise the bustling port where these trades occurred—the lively chatter, the vessels docked at the harbour, and the exchange of goods that shaped Remu’s fortunes. The images vividly depicted resilience and adaptability, showcasing how Remu thrived through trade and diplomacy.
Flipping to the third page, Akin delved deeper into the city’s history. The illustrations portrayed strong and fierce warriors engaging in training and strategizing for warfare. Remu had sought the expertise of foreign trainers, providing them with slaves in exchange for knowledge and skills in combat. These mighty men of valour were instrumental in defending the city, fortifying its reputation as an impenetrable fortress.
Akin envisioned the training grounds, the disciplined soldiers, and the military strategies being imparted. He could almost hear the clash of training weapons and the commands of the instructors, underscoring the dedication and bravery of the Remu warriors.
The fourth page unfolded a captivating tale of knowledge exchange and prestige. Kings from neighbouring kingdoms sought wisdom from King Ajagbon, eager to replicate the prosperity of Remu. The images depicted a thriving cultural business where Remu shared its knowledge and experience in trade and governance, establishing its reputation as a hub of enlightenment.
Akin imagined the majestic court, the visiting kings seeking counsel, and the wealth of wisdom shared by King Ajagbon. It was a cross-cultural engagement and enlightenment scene, showcasing Remu’s role as a beacon of knowledge and affluence.
The fifth page left Akin awestruck and perplexed. There, he saw the queen adorned with his family heirloom. The narrative of betrayal and loss unfolded—the king’s infidelity, the arrival of a new queen, and the subsequent downfall of Remu. It was a sombre reminder of how betrayal could unravel the mightiest of cities.
Akin reflected on the tragic story, a mix of emotions welling up within him—anger, sadness, and determination. He found his answer. The wealth of Remu came from the wife of King Ajagbon. She was astute. She had all the bright ideas. She gave the king advice on how to trade the little they had for what they didn’t have, using a system of make-believe of what they didn’t have to get what they needed and, in turn, use it to wager.
He realized that the heirloom he carried was more than a trinket; it was a link to a glorious past and a reminder of the consequences of betrayal. He had a newfound purpose—to honour his roots, remember history lessons, and strive to make a difference. And so, with renewed determination, he set out on a path to preserve the legacy of Remu and make his future better.
Akin realized he was from Remu, and the heirloom symbolized his ancestry. He decided not to sell it to Mr. English but to pitch its value to a museum using his great-grandmother’s system, the make-believe system, and it worked like a charm.
He then used the proceeds to invest in the coal business and learn tech skills after getting a laptop, relocating him and Yomi away from Ikorodu to Ikeja.
As they sat a week after relocation, Akin was already teaching Yomi technical skills, and everything seemed to be going well.
“Akin, you are a good man. Some people will abandon their friends when things are good, especially since I didn’t borrow you the money to start the business but look at us, big boys in Ikeja. look at me now, Akin… all I can say is God will bless you for me, for showing loyal love.”
“I can never betray you Yomi,” Akin said with a smile on his face
“But why, you don’t really owe me this much Akin” he retorted.
“Because once upon a time there was a glorious city and now it is no more.”