He called me Barack

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Even in winter, he would not fit into that common image for migrant workers, as we see them, walking down the road; that image their children have now grown to see. Those Africans who are only allowed to do odd jobs; Nigerians or Ghanaian. He did not wear thick black head warmers nor layers of jumpers and sweaters. His trousers were not necessarily thick, his shoes not heavy nor had they any additional safety caps, only leather and a good semblance of brogue design.
Their pay was more sizable than his. Some of them even did additional jobs after school runs, after nights spent at the warehouses, picking goods or stacking shelves at supermarkets, or even doing safe security jobs.
It was these men who sometimes dropped off their children in the morning. Little children, some who greeted him with sparking white teeth and umber brown gums; squeaky clean in their lovely ebony tones running happily into a more vast beauty of other happy children playing.
Dike had brought his three little children to the UK when the recent global recession was well on its way. Many Nigerians who had been made redundant from big London city banks and law firms were moving back home.
On the playground each day, he came with a different colour of suit, complete with matching ties. They were affordable and machine washable. He would drop-by the value or sales sections of Marks and Spenser for them. He was handsome in them, calm and carefully nonchalant. When he talked, it was in his scholarly Nigerian english language, now spoken in British accent and not this vernacular.
His now accepted ordinariness did not do a good job of hiding his classy sense of the way things should be. Of many rewards, this afternoon at the playground, a ten year old black boy came running towards him. Behind him was a group of other children; friends in a boisterous group. He stopped at him, and in his hilarious-smile lit face, he searched my eyes, seemingly saying ‘I now know you. It now makes sense. I have cracked the code’ Then he said to me “You are Barack Obama” I was transfixed, but then I smiled.
They all ran off, they felt victorious; all of them in the group; White, Black, Asian. They were jubilant as they ran off.
Still transfixed but not now teary eyed, I felt both rewarded and blessed. It was one of many angelic visits.
For whatever Barack Obama means to our children.., Yes I am Barack.
Listening and Creative Communication
Leonard Chintua-Chigbu
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