On the fifth day of Christmas 2017, a young man arrived Lagos Nigeria from London on an Emirates Airways flight. And ever since the very moment he touched down on Mauritala Mohammed International Airport, his life changed for the worse. Now nearly three weeks since his arrival to Nigeria, he has been roaming around Ajao Estate, a Lagos neighbourhood very close to the international airport.
Information about the man is sketchy. But according to the information he disclosed to a Lagosian that interviewed him in a bid to get him help, his name is Chuks Carson. He was born and bred in London where he has lived most of his life. He only came to Nigeria with the intention of spending his Christmas holiday here. He also had plans of visiting his village, a place called Ogidi in Anambra State; South Eastern Nigeria. But so far, he hasn’t quite enjoyed the Yuletide, neither has he visited his village. Apparently he is stranded in Lagos, having lost two out of the three luggage he came into Nigeria with. His phone is also no longer with him, which means that he has no means of communicating with his relatives both in London and here in Nigeria. Worst of all, he is cashless. And nobody cares about homeless people in Nigeria!
Chuks’ story is a mysterious one. Many Nigerian Social Media commenters are speculating that he went mad upon encountering the harsh social-economic realities of the country. Call that culture shock too shocking to bear… That wouldn’t be wrong. But while he does seem a little offset in the video, he isn’t acting like the typical mad man in the street. His conversational skill is relatively well-artculate enough, even as he still has a what has happened to him so far. He tells the interviewer that he has kept his international passport with a well-known Nigerian bank; just in case. He also remembers where in London he live and the airways that flew him to Nigeria. But what he doesn’t quite seem to remember is how he ended up stranded.
Amnesia is an uncommon form of memory loss that can happen to anybody. And according to the information at my disposal, amnesia isb often triggered by a sense of great shock; either physical or emotional. This leaves me with the speculation that something shocking might have happened to Chuks either on the flight to Lagos or right upon arrival. Could he have lost a very important luggage? Did he suddenly find out that all the money he has been sending to a relative to help him build a mansion in Lekki had been misappropriated? Or was he simply shocked by the harsh realities that living in Nigeria portends? I can never know the actual answers to these questions. But I wish to know why there is a homeless British man in a Lagos neighbourhood, stranded and exposed to all kinds of danger.
As I was thinking about Chuks’ situation while preparing this article, I could not help but assume that he had a pre-existing mental health disorder prior to visiting Nigeria. Unlike Nigeria, western countries make conscious efforts at managing mental health cases. One of the ways they do this is to place those with such conditions on medication in order to forestall full-blown mental cases. With this in view therefore, if my assumption that Chuks had pre-existing condition is right, chances are that he always managed it well until his arrival in Nigeria and then his consequent failure to continue taking his medications.
In any case, it is heartbreaking to see what has become of a handsome young man like him. And while the case seems bleak, there is hope. I am writing this article with the hope that someone reads it and share it enough until it gets across to someone who might actually know the young man. Also, I will like the British High Commission in Nigeria to look into this issue and see ways they can offer help. We cannot afford to add Chuks’ case as yet another statistic of the number of Mad Men and women roaming around the streets of Lagos.
Watch Chuks talk about his predicament below: