My Bro is a biweekly Zikoko series that interrogates and celebrates male friendships of different forms.
Ama and Gideon have stories for days. What was supposed to be a 40-minute interview ended up being almost two hours of back-and-forths that had me cracking up. These two have a genuine brotherhood forged in the trenches, and I don’t think they’d have it any other way. After all, nothing cements friendship like surviving the trauma of attending a Nigerian university — Even I can confirm this.
In this episode of My Bro, they talk about bonding over being broke and hungry in university, moving from a group of three to just two of them and why money is the only ingredient their friendship is missing.
Our origin story
Ama: We’ve been friends for eight years, but my earliest recollection of knowing you was when we were both in a Facebook group of people trying to get admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 2013. I didn’t immediately notice you, but I later realised we were both applying for Biochemistry, and that’s how we started talking.
I wasn’t feeling you at first because you had this ugly profile picture of you in a yellow shirt that made you like this weird cultist.
Gideon: I remember. LOL. I still have that shirt, by the way.
Ama: Na wa! I was shocked when we got admission and finally met during the clearance period. I stylishly checked my phone because you looked nothing like your picture. You looked way better.
Gideon: I catfished you!
I didn’t know anyone in school because we were just starting first year. Since we’d already spoken online, gone in for the same course and loved Chelsea Football Club, it made sense to hang out with you. I don’t remember much from our first meeting, but I can vividly remember us hanging out around the hostels, talking for almost three hours about life and our plans for school.
Ama: Aww. Love at first sight. Talking about meeting people online, I’d met other people from that Facebook group, but we didn’t click. I wasn’t the most friendly person. I didn’t know we would be friends. You were just my coursemate at first until we got closer.
Online is not real life
Gideon: Meeting you offline for the first time, I realised you were nothing like your Facebook personality. You were popular back then for always getting in fights and arguing online. I used to think you were rude and lacked emotional intelligence because of this, but hanging out with you, I was like, “he’s calm in real life.” To me, you were a diamond in the rough.
Ama: Ah! For me, I didn’t have any strong impressions. I was happy to see someone with whom I could figure out this Biochemistry thing.
From coursemates to broke buddies
Ama: Our friendship was built on us being broke. Serious SAPA. We weren’t close in the first year of university, but we’d walk back to the hostel together after class because it was very far from school.
One night, I remember I was hungry AF. I didn’t have any money or food. My pocket money was about ₦3k weekly, so I was always broke. It was also close to exam period when everyone was broke, so no one in my room was down to give me anything. You called me around 9 p.m. to ask about something. I don’t know how you figured it out, but you sensed I was in distress, and the next thing, you came to my room with okra soup from your hostel.
It’s not like either of us were campus big boys, so I know you shared the little you had. This really touched me because you didn’t have to do that.
Our friendship developed even more when you came to squat in a room not far from me, so we hung out all the time. and we formed a trio with another friend, Godspower.
Gideon: Yo, that’s true. Godspower, mehn. The squatting thing happened in second year, and that’s when I’d also say our friendship became a thing. We were both broke boys in the same department, hostel and floor.
What happened to Nsukka’s Destiny’s Child?
Ama: The trio happened because we both didn’t get hostels when registration started. You ended up squatting with Godspower, and I joined both of you after I had issues with the other guys I was squatting with. This was in our third year.
The three of us attended a lot of night classes together and bounced ideas, and it was fun. But Godspower was the serious one, and at some point, you and I just got disillusioned with school, so we stopped studying as a group. The final thing that separated the group was when we both moved out of the hostel in final year, and we didn’t see Godspower as often as we used to.
Gideon: We naturally drifted apart as friends because of distance. But you and I were neighbours off campus, making it easier for us to maintain our friendship.
What made this friendship different from others?
Gideon: To be honest, I didn’t like any of our classmates in university. Most of them were book smart but not really smart regarding life. I remember some guy who had a habit of selling his things at the slightest inconvenience, and it wasn’t like he was really broke.
I couldn’t relate to other people apart from you and Godspower. We came from the same social background and had similar life experiences, so it was easy to connect with you. I was antisocial; talking to other people was awkward. By our second year, I felt like I had a brother in school because you could come to me with anything, and I’d do the same for you.
There were so many moments when you came through for me, times when I couldn’t afford school materials, like handouts, and you’d always get them for me. Even times when I needed money. I can’t pinpoint all these moments specifically, but you were always there for me. You were my guy then, and you’re still my guy now.
The time we didn’t speak for months
Ama: In our eight years of friendship, I’ve only had a problem with you once.
Gideon: Really? When?
Ama: It was the night before an exam we had in our first year, second semester. I was grossly unprepared and needed someone to share reading materials with me since I didn’t have any. We weren’t really close, but I thought we were getting close, so I asked if I could join you, and you said, “No”.
I was disappointed. I ended up getting a “B” when I could’ve gotten an “A” if I’d gotten access to the materials earlier. I stopped talking to you because I felt you could’ve come through for me, but you chose not to.
We didn’t speak for a long time, and then, you randomly called me during the holiday. I don’t remember if you apologised, but we just returned to our regular selves after that call. Till today, I don’t know your reason for saying “No” that night.
Gideon: Do you know the crazy thing? I don’t remember this situation. I’m shocked. We sometimes do things in the moment and don’t realise how it’s affecting other people. If you say it happened, then I’m sure it did. Did you call me out on it?
Ama: I didn’t. I was still pretty young and immature. If it happened today, I’d call you to ask why. But back then, I just felt hurt, internalised it and didn’t say anything. Understandably, you don’t remember it. I also don’t hold it in my mind anymore.
Our friendship has been smooth, and now, we communicate a lot.
Maintaining our friendship after the trenches of university
Gideon: Unlike Godspower, both of us had an extra year. We were only writing one exam, so we had one more year to bond. We did freelance writing, listened to the same type of music and just had a good time together.
Even after we finally left school, we just had this bond. No matter how much time passed between us, we could just pick everything up the moment we spoke on the phone or saw one another.
Ama: After school, our lives became intertwined. It was unintentional, but our new friends were in the same circles, and we even dated girls from the same circles, both online and offline.
I think our relationship has been an accumulation of tiny gestures and moments that have made it last as long as it has. We’re also good at communicating. We don’t need to have something important to say; we make sure we just talk regularly. This is why we haven’t strayed too far from one another.
What I’d like to change about this friendship
Ama: I’d change our financial statuses for sure. We bonded over SAPA in school, for God’s sake. LOL. We’ve both supported each other along the way, but I sometimes wish we could do more for each other.
Like on your birthday, I wanted to give you a watch. I saw the one I had in mind, but I couldn’t afford it. I can also sense you want to do more when you give me stuff. We both have dependents and black tax, so it’s not easy. The “Love is sweet, but when money enter, love is sweeter” also applies to friendships.
Gideon: Same. I always want to come through for you, but like you said, I’m the firstborn, with many financial commitments, so I don’t always meet up to what I’d really like to do for you. Money is essential, mehn, but we try.
I want you to know
Gideon: I’m the only son of my parents, and I never felt like I had a brother I could connect with until I met you. There’s hardly anything I’d want to do that I won’t run by you — from business to toasting someone.
Gideon: LOL. Let me finish. But yes, I’m down for you no matter what, and I don’t think I’ve had any friendship as deep as I have with you.
Ama: Gideon, I’m really blessed to have you in my life. Finding friendships that don’t feel transactional or like work is difficult. I haven’t experienced this level of ease in a friendship before. With you, I have someone I can count on.
I won’t end without saying I love you. We don’t say it often because we weren’t brought up to express our emotions to other men. Even with women, the “L” word is hard for me.
You don’t have to say it back o!
Gideon: (awkward laugh)
Let me not ruin my street cred. I don’t have to say it. You know where I stand with you, my guy.
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