Amaka* and Sade* were bunkmates, best friends and, to some people, sisters. Throughout their secondary school years, they took care of one another, but their friendship took a turn after graduation when Amaka* realised just how rich her friend was.
How did the both of you meet?
Amaka: We met in secondary school. It was a federal government secondary boarding school, and we were bunkmates. She transferred to our school in SS1, and even though she was a year older than me, she was very kind and asked me to explain stuff about school to her. She was assigned the top bunk, and I offered to switch with her because she’d never slept on a bunk bed before.
I think because we shared a bunk — and I was the one she came to whenever she didn’t understand anything about hostel living — we became so close, we were inseparable. We did everything together, and unlike those bunkmates who fought every hour, we never did. People would joke that in our past lives, we were twins, and we’d laugh it off.
And as the years progressed…?
Amaka: At this point, I think friendship is a feeble way to describe what the two of us had. It was a sisterhood. As time went on and she became more familiar with the school, she took me as a younger sister. I’m the first-born in my house, so I’m used to caring for my two siblings, so it was nice to be taken care of for a change.
She had a key to my cupboard and other belongings because I was a bit clumsy, and I trusted her more than anyone else in school. Plus, she never had enough space for her things, so she kept some of them with me. She’d restock my cupboard whenever my provisions were about to finish and I was left with nothing but garri and sugar.
The first time she did this, it was a Saturday, and I was extremely hungry. As I opened my cupboard to drink what was left of my garri, I saw cereal, milk, beverage and even bread. She left me a note letting me know she kept them for me. I didn’t touch them till she came back to the room. She told me she had more than enough, and she couldn’t bear me managing garri. I think I started becoming aware of just how much she had.
Was she rich?
Amaka: Extremely, but I didn’t know how much at the time. The car they dropped her off in was nothing above average, and she hardly spoke about her family, but if you paid close attention, you could catch it. The snacks and provisions she brought to school were usually of the imported variety, and there were some things people spoke about that she never could relate to. But I didn’t realise the degree of her wealth until we were graduating from secondary school.
On our graduation day, she came with police escort, and I’d never seen our school have so much security. It was like film. She called me to meet her parents, and I felt so small. They looked and smelt like money. Serious one. Her dad is a former military man turned politician, and her mum is into some serious business I can’t recall. Either way, my friend was set for life.
Omo. How did that make you feel?
Amaka: At the time, I couldn’t even correctly process it. It’s not like my parents are poor. We live a comfortable life; they provide the things I need, but they’re not as rich as hers. I still remember her dad gave me ₦150k as a graduation gift and her mum put about $100 in an envelope for being a nice bunkmate. My parents could never do something like that. Not for me or anyone.
But Sade* was still my friend, money or no money, until we had to be friends outside of secondary school.
What was the difference?
Amaka: Well, in secondary school, we were bunkmates, but outside? We belonged to two very different social classes. While we did things like secondary school clearance and waiting for WAEC results to come out, we spent much more time together. She’d invite me for sleepovers at her house and invite me to concerts and the rest. She had VIP tickets to every event because some of her friends knew people who knew other people in the entertainment industry. I was her +1 to most of these events because she told me she didn’t like going alone. Her driver would take us there, and when we felt like we couldn’t go back home because it’s late at night, she’d suggest lodging at some ridiculously priced hotel.
It was fun to see how the other side lived for the first couple of weeks, but it was also very intimidating. How was I supposed to reciprocate the gifts and the money spent? When my birthday rolled around, she bought me an iPhone 11 because I’d told her I wanted one. With every outing and gift, I felt more and more uncomfortable. I know she wasn’t expecting me to repay her for anything, but I couldn’t keep up. Also, the money I spent on transportation to her place and the cost of new clothes to attend all the events created a massive dent in the little money I got from random jobs and family members.
When I spoke to her about it, she started sending me money and buying me clothes. The height was when she told me she was getting ready to go to London for school. I was still battling ASUU strike and she wanted to resume school in London. She wanted me to follow her so we could settle in. Her dad didn’t mind and thought it’d be nice for her to have a familiar face around for a while. I was home because of the ASUU strike and had nothing to do, but I refused. I told her I had a family emergency, and I stayed at home.
Why’d you do that?
Amaka: I felt that one day all of it would blow up in my face. Who just offers to bring someone to a new country because they could? That’s not what people do. Now, she’s in London, and we hardly speak. There’s the occasional IG comment and snap, but it wasn’t like before.
I lost my bunkmate, best friend and sister, but it would never have worked. I’ve tried to bring it up with her so she’d understand I didn’t abandon her, but it’s hard. How do I explain to her that we can’t be close friends anymore because I can’t keep up with her lifestyle? It was best to end things this way.