My name is Mrs. Titilayo Anitini, I am a mother and a widow. When I was younger, I had my future all planned out but at that age no one ever pays heed to the saying man proposes and God disposes. I used to work as a nursing aid in a Government hospital until my father passed away. Shortly after, my mother fell ill and I was scared that I would lose her too, so I resigned to care for her like only a child can. We weren't rich, so I knew I couldn't resign from my job to just look after my mother; I needed another source of income, so I decided to open a local bar selling beer and food.
I ran this business for a few years until 1990, when the Government gave a seven-day evacuation notice. I have no idea why over 30 years later I still have that notice. I tell myself that my natural disposition has always been to keep things - some would call me a hoarder. However, bearing in mind how this notice turned my life upside down, I am not sure why I kept it; I am not sure I should have kept it. It's not as if I can make any money from it. At the time, we didn't take the notice seriously. Can you believe that despite us being in our shops and attending to customers, as soon as day 7 came round, they shut us down?! I can remember everything about that day - July 14, 1990 - the day the shutdown was implemented. How do you describe the loss of something you have worked so long and hard for, the source of your daily bread? This incident contributed to my husband's death four months later on November 25, 1990. 30 years later and it's a part of my story, a part of the woman that I am today.
Not only were our small businesses shutdown but we were also displaced - we had to look for new locations, not just to start a new business, but to set up as home. Initially, Jakande wasn't allocated to those of us who were displaced but among us was a lady who took on the role of leader and spokesperson. She got us to move to Jakande and 30 years on, we are still here. This is now home. Not all of us who were displaced made it to Jakande, some moved to Ikota and others to Epe to start from scratch, rebuilding our lives. Despite the abrupt displacement we hoped the Government would support us, but nothing was ever done. Today, the houses we live in are in a state of ruin, you have seen where we live, dirt everywhere but God still sits on the throne and we have not collapsed.
After the abrupt end to my local bar business, I have had no money to restart the business. Sometimes, I get small deals to supply tippers of rubble when there are sand-filling projects in the community.
The frequency of my supply contracts depends on how often builders need to sand-fill projects, the truth is opportunities are few and far between. Today everything is a lot more expensive and they no longer patronize this old lady. Youths have saturated the sector and I can only win contracts if I have upfront cash to buy the materials, pending the receipt of payment from the supplier / builder. I am just an old lady trying to make ends meet - I am not able to play in such a competitive environment.
I now make a daily income from the sale of petty items like bread and soft drinks, and I use this to take care of my children. Some of my children are in school, thank God! There are those whose children can't even attend school anymore because they were displaced.
I always have to thank God because even though life is hard, he always looks out for me. It is this same God that made sure I was at the right place at the right time when TAP donated food boxes. COVID-19 has been such a strange period in all our lives, the whole of Lagos forced to stay at home as a result of a lockdown and even when the Governor said people could go out, we were scared of the disease. At times my hope falters but God always comes through. He came through in the form of TAP.