I am excited!! When I sent him a message on Twitter asking if he would join this project, to be honest I didn’t quite think I was going to get a yes. But I did, and with such ease I wondered why I worried in the first place!
I met Pa Ikhide first in March at Excuse Me London, an event celebrating him, Nkem Ivara, Victor Ehikamenor, and a few others. He was so warm, so alive, so down to earth, it was an absolute pleasure!
I present, Ikhide Ikheloa! *cycles away slowly*
The Internet lives
My name is Ikhide. I am a Nigerian. I am an American. I live on the Internet. Every day, new tribes are formed. The Internet is the new nation. That is one thing that dawned on me this year; the Internet lives. Ignore it at your peril.
On the Internet, compassion knows no boundaries even as pain and hurt seep through fences to maim the brave. It is often said that there is a digital divide. That is certainly one way of looking at a world that can seem to offer only a half-empty glass most days.
A counterintuitive approach is to see a digital bridge, a web even, that connects the weak to the powerful, that offers robust voice to the yearnings and aspirations of those who have no voices. Yes, the Internet is the new nation of tribes of thinkers and doers.
On the Internet, words are powerful and they zip around on merry wings. This year was exceptionally expensive for me. Time and accidents conspired to strip my family of the vitality and life of loved ones. In addition to the physical touch and solace of loved ones, the Internet was the town crier of choice, moving buckets of comfort to and from Babylon. And the Internet was the bank of choice helping to ferry resources to those in need.
On Father’s Day, this year, my dad fell very ill. It has been a challenging season, trying to rescue him from the clutches of a debilitating illness in Nigeria where a “specialist hospital” is usually a large hall filled with desperate patients and not much else in terms of resources. I was touched by the kindness and generosity of many, the vast majority of whom I had never met in person. This essay would be an exercise in despair if not for these wonderful people who came into my life thanks to the Internet. I salute all of them.
Finally, for me, the Internet, as a community of communities, came alive at the recently concluded Ake Arts & Book Festival in Abeokuta. As writers and artists we all came together from all over the world, and in this little place, people, most of whom had only met on the Internet, laughed and loved like long-lost siblings. The atmosphere was electric, perhaps the best celebration of arts and living I have ever been involved in.
And this brings me to my final point. None of this would be possible without the Internet. The Internet is fast shaping up to be the community of choice for writers of African extraction, the best publishing house for our stories, a place that struts our stories as the sum of our lived lives, not as a single story. The Internet lives.
And so this year, as a reader who writes, I am most grateful to the Internet for helping me connect with soul mates and for helping to put even more meaning into my restless life. What would I do differently? I don’t know really, I don’t allow regrets to live rent-free in my head. I live and live well. The Internet lives.