My Bro is a biweekly Zikoko series that interrogates and celebrates male friendships of different forms.
Joey and Akah met in 2008 when Joey was dating Akah’s sister. On this week’s #ZikokoMyBro, they talk about why Akah thought Joey was fake when they first met, their surprise connection and picking sides after Joey’s break-up with Akah’s sister.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane
Joey: We met in 2008 when I was still dating your sis. She introduced you to me as her “overprotective brother”. She’d hyped you up as the guy who’d beat me if I fucked up. But then, you pulled up, and I was like, “Omo, if I racked with this guy, I’d definitely win.”
Akah: I won’t beat you up because I still want to follow you to eat banga at your mum’s place.
Joey: You’re a cute teddy bear who only pretends to like violence. The more I spoke to you about basketball the night we met, the more I realised you’re cool AF. We eventually turned your sister into a third wheel.
Akah: I might’ve laughed with you that night, but it didn’t mean I liked you. I told my sister to break up with you when we got home.
Joey: Guy, for real?
Trust issues and initial gragra
Akah: I don’t trust the guys my sister dates, so I didn’t trust you one bit. You moved like a player, and you were trying too hard to be liked with all your dead jokes and compliments.
Joey: Na wa o. I was extra because I genuinely wanted you to like me.
Akah: Exactly. And I could see the desperation. But my sister was so into you she made us hang out over and over again until I liked you. It was like when the radio rinses a song so bad you end up knowing the lyrics even though you can’t stand it.
Joey: So you’re calling me a Drake song? Well done. I knew I wanted to be friends with you from the start. But I was also scared of how we’d navigate my relationship with your sister.
The moment we became friends
Akah: I was also avoiding being friends with my sister’s guy. What would happen if you guys broke up? Plus, I wasn’t looking for new friends, so what was the point?
But one day, our gist moved from basketball to our late dads, and for the first time, I felt a connection to you beyond bants. We’re both first sons who had to step up at a young age because we lost our dads.
Joey: I don’t even know how that gist happened because I never used to talk about growing up or my dad. It’s too painful for me, even after all these years. I’d rather use jokes to cover it up.
Akah: Are you telling me?
Joey: Guy, abeg. Talking to you about not crying when my dad died because I wanted to hold it together for my mum opened the floodgates. I can count on one hand how many times I’d cried before that moment. It was weird that I was opening up to my babe’s brother, but I rolled with it and made you my free therapist.
Akah: I didn’t mind. I love listening to people, and part of why I thought you were somehow before was because you only made jokes. Nothing about you sounded real. But talking about your family made you an actual human being to me.
This was until you broke my sister’s heart in 2011, and everything became so fucking complicated.
Joey: Oh, shit!
Picking between my sister and her ex
Akah: Imagine you breaking up with my sister just when I started to actually like you? Please, explain yourself.
Joey: That breakup was mutual, but somehow, I got labelled as the bad guy. Someone would think I cheated or did something bad. We just ran out of fuel.
Akah: And you couldn’t queue and refuel your relationship at NNPC?
Joey: I knew you’d say something stupid. I remember thinking, “Bruh, Akah is going to hate me now”. It was the first consequence I actually thought of when we were breaking up.
Akah: Then you should’ve stayed together for me. I was pissed when she told me sha. I was angry to see her in pain, but I was also mad that I would lose a friendship I hadn’t even wanted in the first place. Then I felt guilty because my sister had just ended a three-year relationship, and instead of me to ginger and go beat the guy up, I was worried about him too.
Joey: You actually love me, man. It’s cute.
Akah: No, I don’t. I was being a nice guy. But I also knew we couldn’t hang out or talk to each other for a while, so I avoided your calls and texts for about a month after the breakup.
Joey: I was so angry. It felt like I was being punished, and I actually wasn’t going to talk to you again, but all that anger disappeared when you texted me asking if you could come to watch a game at my place. I had to stop coming to your place because of her. We could hang out anywhere but there.
Akah: I had to let things calm down and have my sister confirm it was okay before I contacted you. It was the right thing to do. She wasn’t completely fine with our friendship, but she knew we had our thing separate from her.
Joey: It was tricky, but our friendship was worth it. I’d lost a relationship I’d invested in. I wasn’t about to lose a friend too.
She’s married now, and you like her husband (not as much as me, though), so we can see it all worked out. Or would you have preferred if she married me?
Akah: Imagine me walking her down the aisle then coming over to stand behind you as your best man? That sounds like stress, bro.
Coming through for one another
Akah: We’ve been friends for over ten years now. I can’t begin to pinpoint a time you came through for me.
Joey: So I’m a shitty friend?
Akah: You come for me a lot. That sounds wrong. Oh, yes, you come through for me a lot.
Joey: Even I was like, “I do what now?”
I know a moment I’ll pick, and that’s in 2020, when you made me your son’s godfather. I know it’s just bants in Nigeria, but that level of trust mattered to me. I’m unmarried and don’t have kids, so it’s like you made me a dad without having to pay school fees or feed the child daily. It’s the best blessing I could ask for.
Akah: We can change it anytime, so keep saying rubbish.
What holds our friendship together?
Akah: My therapist, for sure. I need somewhere to dump all your wahala when you’re done with me. It’s expensive, but it works.
Joey: Thank her for me. Trust is what holds our friendship together. I know you have my back, and I want to believe you know I have yours too.
I want you to know
Joey: My mood automatically gets better every time I think about you. You’re the human version of drugs because you always have a way of making everyone around you feel better. It’s even more beautiful because you’re not doing it intentionally to get them to like you. It’s just your thing. I think that makes you an incredible person.
Akah: I agree, but I’m not a drug IJN (Amen). I’m really proud of how open you’ve become over the years. You’ve moved from someone who’d joke about a situation instead of addressing it. Humour is great, but sometimes, sitting in or addressing your other emotions is good. I’m glad you’ve learnt a lot from me, and I’ve made you a better man. I’m so proud of myself on your behalf.
Joey: LOL. You’re a clown, and that’s why I keep you around.
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