■ 68-year-old grandma ejected from church quarters, family house…lives in danfo with 6 kids
Life, no doubt, is a coin with two sides. To some, it turns the good side full of fun, pleasure, plenty and splendor. To others, the opposite is their lot. The pathetic story of 68-year-old Mrs Kehinde Oseni confirms she is facing the other side of life characterized by pain, poverty, homelessness and helplessness.
If this looks or sounds strange to you, then consider the plight of Mrs Oseni, a casual worker at Lagos Island Local Government. Ironically, she lives inside an abandoned local council revenue bus popularly called danfo on Freeman street, Lagos Island. An indigene of Isale Eko, also known as Lagos Island where multi-billion naira business transactions go on everyday, it is indeed a contradiction to see in the midst of this plenty, ‘a daughter of the soil’ is not only homeless but has been abandoned by all to her cruel fate.
Hers is a life of woes and she appears already overwhelmed by them. She has obviously lost faith in life and only waiting for death to do its worse. Born into a family of 14 children, with four twins, Mrs Oseni is today the only survivor. The rest are dead. Widowed 14 years ago, she initially found solace in a church which housed her but was soon after ejected. From there, she moved into her family house but was later thrown out. With nowhere else to go, she has to move into a danfo bus abandoned on the street, which now serves as a home for her, her only surviving daughter and five grandchildren.
“My parents gave birth to 14 children and had four twins. I am a twin also but all are dead. I am the only survivor in my family. Before my husband and daughter died, we were living comfortably until death came and whisked her away after she gave birth to Mary. It seems death runs in my family”, she told Saturday Sun with fear written all over her.
A close look at the danfo shows that the two front seats of the vehicle-turned-home serve as beds for two members of the family while four other members cluster on mats spread on the floor of the bus and the booth compartment which also houses the dysfunctional engine of the vehicle is used as wardrobe with clothes scattered all over.
For her to tell her own story, Saturday Sun’s CHIZOBA OKENWA and LAWRENCE ENYOGHASU spent some time with her in her ‘apartment’ and spoke to her. Excerpts:
Who really are you?
My name is Mrs Kehinde Oseni. I am 68 years old. I am an indigene of Lagos State, Eko to be precise. My husband died in 2001 from sickness. The people you see here are my children and grandchildren: Tunde, Temilade, Sekinat, Mary, Musiliu and Sule. I have two daughters, but one is dead while the other is with me.
What killed her?
My first daughter died of complications from childbirth after she gave birth to Mary.
How did your problem start?
My problem started when a good Samaritan, the head pastor of my church, a Cherubim and Seraphim church, gave us a room to stay at Unity Road. The house belongs to the head pastor of my church. She also gave rooms to different pastors, assigning one room to each pastor. One of the pastors whose name was Seun, I don’t know his surname, was the one that messed things up for us. He was given one room; he used another as a studio. He later rented two rooms to other tenants without the consent of the head pastor. He collected N190,000 as rent from tenants, rooms that didn’t belong to him.
In that area, there was this lawyer who knew the head pastor’s husband. The lawyer warned the man that there was imminent trouble in the house, a very big problem for him to handle which might lead to litigation. On that note, the man said we should pack out, all of us living in that house including the pastor.
I packed my load to 64, Bitrus Road here in Igbosere which was a family house. Some days later, some people from my husband’s family came and said that I should leave the house because it had been given to a developer to rebuild. I told them to give me time as another person had given me a land at Bariga and I had bought building materials for it and urged them to be patient with me. I bought some of the materials with the N60,000 I got from the monthly contribution among my peers at work.
The person, Mr Tunde that gave me the land said his brother who owns the land said no one should use the land until he came back from abroad before any construction will commence. I agreed and that was two years ago and the brother has not even come back.
What did you do with the materials you bought?
I had to sell the materials I bought for the construction at a lower price because the land was already generating dispute. I used the money to cater for my family and it has finished.
How come you sleep in a bus with your family ?
On Freeman Street where we live now, the bus was abandoned here for a long time and since I have no place to go, my daughter, grandchildren and I stay in this bus where they can sleep at night because there is little security around this area and the inhabitants are familiar with us.
What about your relatives?
My husband’s family abandoned me; they have not helped at all. Since my husband’s demise, his family has abandoned me.