My Bro is a weekly Zikoko series that interrogates and celebrates male friendships of different forms.
Despite the distance and different time zones, Caleb and Mofe have remained best friends for the last eight years. They met ten years ago at a church competition in Nigeria, but life physically pulled them apart when Mofe had to move to the US for school.
In this episode of My Bro, they talk about connecting over shared family values, maintaining a long-distance friendship and the tragic event that made them reunite after eight years.
Our origin story
Mofe: My first recollection of meeting you was at the Sword Drill competition in 2011. They’d call a bible verse, and the first kid to open to it and read it out won. I was representing my church, and I remember one of the pastors asked us to introduce ourselves and connect with other kids there. That’s how I met you.
I came third and qualified for the next round, so the next time I saw you was at the second stage of the competition, when you came to support your friend even though you didn’t qualify.
Caleb: Let me correct you there. I was at the second stage because my church also competed in the dance drama category, and we won that competition.
Mofe: Boy, no one cares about dance drama. What has that done for anybody? I didn’t like you at the time because a girl I liked from church had a crush on you.
After we met at the first competition, she couldn’t stop talking about you. I kept thinking, “What does this guy have that I don’t?” She friend-zoned me for you.
But then, we started talking on social media, and I realised you were a cool guy.
Caleb: To be honest, I was a little hesitant when you walked up to me during the competition to ask for my contacts. I wasn’t used to being offered friendship in such a direct way, so I was sure you were either pretending or trying to kill me. LOL.
Our first hangout outside the church was when we watched a movie at Ozone Cinema that year. We didn’t hang out often, but we gisted a lot about random things like school.
We connected despite liking different things
Caleb: I’m a very old soul.
Mofe: Sorry, Elder Caleb.
Caleb: Stop it! But seriously, making friends as a kid was hard for me. I rarely found other kids who liked the things I liked. I was really into reading books, and most kids just wanted to have fun. You were like that too. You didn’t like books; you liked football. But you were open to just listening to me go on and on about books, even though you didn’t care for them. I liked that you respected what I liked. You also told me about football, even though I didn’t care or know anything about it.
I wasn’t trying to be your friend. I just realised you were easy to talk to.
Mofe: I liked reading books, but not like you, man. You wrote a whole-ass book in 2016, sir. I mean, the book was kind of bad, but I was really proud of you.
Caleb: Wow. So despite our differences, what connected me to you was how you prioritised family, especially your relationship with your brother. I grew up with an older brother I’m very close to. We went to the same school, and he always stood up for me. I tell my brother, “I love you”, and it’s not a big deal. But then, I got to know other guys and saw that what my brother and I had wasn’t the norm. There was this “My G! My G!” performance.
But you, I could connect with. You’re very open with your younger brother. It’s why I can comfortably tell you, “I love you” today. Just like me, you’ve also experienced a male connection that’s deep and expressive.
Mofe: I can be honest with you about how I feel about you or anything else, especially the women in my life. Even though you can’t keep up.
As much as we were close as teens, I think we got closer and more intentional about our friendship when I left Nigeria for the US.
Maintaining our friendship from different continents
Caleb: Let me start by saying I had no idea you were leaving Nigeria. And it’s crazy because you weren’t coming back. It was a permanent move.
I didn’t even know if I’d see you again. I wasn’t upset. I was just shocked.
Mofe: Yeah, but it all happened so fast, Caleb. You knew I was taking SAT classes, but I didn’t want to tell anyone I was applying because I wasn’t sure it’d happen. I didn’t want to disappoint myself, you or anyone else. I also remember you weren’t in town at the time and didn’t have an accessible phone.
But you have to admit the distance brought us closer.
Caleb: I can’t deny that you showed up for our friendship. I never felt like I was removed from your life because you moved away. You always updated me on what was going on, and I did the same.
There was a mass failure the year I wrote WAEC, so I had to rewrite it the next year. It wasn’t my fault, but I still felt like a failure. I spoke to you about it even though you weren’t in Nigeria, and you encouraged me till I got over that feeling. You were interested in everything in my life, no matter how mundane it sounded. At some point, talking to you became a habit.
During the period you were away, I increasingly realised how much I enjoyed talking and sharing my life events with you. A lot of people talk about being intentional with their friendships, but I don’t think we had the language for it back then. It was just an unspoken decision.
Mofe: Thank God for the internet and video calls!
Our friendship just made sense. I had new friends in America and others in Nigeria, but you’re the only friend I didn’t outgrow because we always have something to talk about. Before I came to the US and saw how open people are about their feelings regarding friendships, you already showed me with how clear and communicative you were back in Nigeria. Because I had a close relationship with you and my brother, it was easier to build close male friendships here.
And maintaining the friendship wasn’t draining me out even though we were in different time zones and had to have our calls either super early in the morning or late at night.
You came through for me
But you made it better because I could easily call you and vent about everything that was happening. You’ve always been a solid friend.
Caleb: I would say the same thing, but one moment that stands out for me was how you supported me when I lost my friend of 15 years in 2019. This friend had been hit by a car, and the hospital refused to treat her unless we brought a police report.
I spoke to many people during this time because I was in shock for most of it. But of all the people I talked to, you were someone who gave me space to grieve. I find many things people say during periods of grief to be performative, but for some reason, your “I’m sorry” and “It’s going to be okay” felt genuine.
We hadn’t dealt with grief as friends before, but you made sure you were present for me. I still think about it today.
Mofe: It was a lot of anger and disappointment in the Nigerian system. His friend didn’t have to lose her life because of something so basic as a police report. Her name was Ruth, right?
Mofe: It was bullshit to me. I could tell you were hurt, and I remember you wrote an article about it. There’s no textbook way on how to help your friend through grief, so I just handled it the way I could by being a listening ear. Apparently, I didn’t mess it up.
Caleb: LOL. You didn’t. This was also the event that made me give up on Nigeria because I know you’d been trying to convince me to move.
Mofe: Exactly! You were acting like you were a freedom fighter like Mandela or Nkrumah. It didn’t make sense. In Nigeria, you’re not just fighting your demons, you’re fighting your country because it’s doing what it can to stop you from being great. I wanted you to leave at the slightest opportunity you got.
You were already balding at 24, bro. Nigeria wasn’t it for you.
Caleb: And I listened. Moving to the US for my master’s this year  allowed us to finally hang out again, even if it was just for three hours.
Meeting each other for the first time in eight years.
Caleb: I was supposed to fly straight to my school in Utah from Washington DC, but I saw a flight that had a layover in Atlanta, where you live. It was the more expensive option but a no-brainer for me. It was also last minute, so I wasn’t sure you’d be able to make it.
Mofe: What? I cancelled everything immediately. No way I wouldn’t be there. It’d been so long, and it felt really good seeing you again. I was shocked you’ve remained the same height for the last ten years.
We would’ve hung out longer if you weren’t rushing to meet your flight. What happened to upholding the tradition of African time? But I’ve forgiven you for cutting our time short.
Caleb: Please, I’ve heard horror stories about Atlanta’s airport. I’d already gotten lost there that day. I didn’t want to miss my flight.
Mofe: The flight that ended up not leaving at the time they’d announced? Anyway, now you’re here. We’ll see each other more often. I’m coming to Utah soon.
How our friendship has evolved with age
Mofe: My good looks have been carrying this friendship for the entirety the time we’ve known each other.
Caleb: Mofe, you became good-looking like three years ago. I have receipts.
Mofe: What? No! I started looking good in 2018 when I started touching money and got a girlfriend. If you met me in 2016 or 2017, please delete that memory because it wasn’t me.
Our friendship has matured because we’re constantly bringing our life experiences into it. We understand that we’re in different time zones and have different responsibilities, so we’re not hard on each other when there’s a communication gap. We’ve learnt to adapt and figure out what works for us.
Caleb: First of all, we’re no longer teenagers, so we have a tighter grip on life. We’re the same age, even though, technically, I’m older than you by five months.
Mofe: That shit doesn’t count!
Caleb: Don’t make me lose my train of thought. We’re almost always at the same stage. But I’ve seen our friendship grow to become more intentional, reassuring and permanent. You always believe I know what I’m saying, even when I don’t, so talking to you helps me feel more confident because I start to believe in myself the same way you believe in me.
I also know I’ll be friends with you for the rest of my life, whether or not I want to. I’m too far into this friendship to escape it now. And honestly, I don’t think there’ll be a day when I don’t want to be your friend.
Moving here is also an evolution of our friendship because now we’ll get to see each other more and make up for all the time we missed.
I want you to know
Mofe: I’m glad our paths crossed. Being friends with you has been the most fulfilling part of my life because you’ve been here for the big and little moments. I appreciate you for being the friend you are. You’re a goal-getter. You see what you want, and you go for it. You wanted to come here for your master’s and you worked your ass off until you got a full scholarship from the American government. That’s very impressive, and I know I’m hanging out with greatness.
People misunderstand our friendship because of how close we are. I’ve had girls in my life question our relationship. But our friendship means the world to me, and I appreciate it.
Caleb: I like hearing you talk about me. You already know I love and appreciate you. I’m proud of you for leaving for the US at 16, and making something for yourself. Never forget that I will always be proud of you no matter what happens.
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