Sunken Ships is a Zikoko series that explores the how and why of the end of all relationships — familial, romantic or just good old friendships.
The subject of this Sunken Ships is *Kunle (27), who tells us how he chose the elections over his friendship and why he can’t be friends with “politically irresponsible” people.
How did you become friends with this person?
Kunle: I want to believe Femi* and I became friends the same day his mother started renting the shop beside my mothers. We were the same age and both spent a lot of time in the shops after school. We’d do our homework together and play football in front of the shops together. Sometimes, if my mum wants to go somewhere, she’d just leave me with Femi’s mum. I think we were even the reason our mums became friends.
When we were ten years old, we applied to the same secondary school and we became even closer. One of our mums will drop us off at resumption and they rotated picking us up as well as coming for our visiting days. At a point, people just assumed we were brothers. We shared many things and I knew I could always count on him and his mum and they could do the same.
Kunle: I won’t say cute exactly. It’s like we didn’t have any choice but to be friends. Being friends was the sensible option and it’s the one we chose.
So you didn’t like each other?
Kunle: We did o, but since with all the time we spent around each other, it was bound to happen. I just think if not for the proximity we had towards each other, it may not have happened.
Femi has always been a bit more outgoing and irresponsible than I have. While I was the first child, he’s the last born, so his parents were a lot more lenient with him than they were with me. Add to the fact that the age gap between him and the child immediately before him is five years, his parents and two siblings let him get away with almost anything.
I, on the other hand, had to deal with firstborn pressure. I’d have to look after not just myself, but my three younger siblings. There was a lot on my plate and a lot was expected from me. I tried to be that good example my siblings need.
So, it’s not like we didn’t like each other. I had grown to love him like a brother. It’s just that a lot of my life would have happened differently if not for him.
As in how?
Kunle: When we were 16, he got a girlfriend. That wasn’t a problem, but he felt I had to have one too, so he introduced me to her friend and we started dating. My mind wasn’t in that relationship, but I did it anyways. Femi was fun. To be friends with him, you have to be fun as well.
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Interesting. So did you remain friends till your adulthood?
Kunle: Yes, we did. However, we moved houses and by extension, shops. Femi and I’s friendship had already taken a hit when we both went to different universities, but we still saw each other when we could. After the move though, there was a time I didn’t see him for almost a full year. I was 20 then. Luckily, our mothers kept in touch and we reconnected as friends. We’d go to events, drink and watch football together. Just the little things to maintain the friendship.
I won’t say we were as close as we used to be, but we still treated each other like brothers. When his dad died in 2015, I went to the burial and stayed with him for a while. Even helped his mother with some running around seeing as the first son was not in the country anymore.
You guys had been through a lot together
Kunle: Yes, we have. He was my longest friend, ever.
So why exactly did you both stop being friends?
Kunle: The problem started around 2022 when people started declaring their interest in running for President. Out of all the candidates, I think there’s only one sensible option, and I thought it was so obvious, anyone with eyes can see it. Turned out, not everyone is interested in this country finally having progress.
When we started discussing politics, it turned out that my friend had another candidate in mind. I was not one of those politically serious people, but this election means a lot to me. Over half of my friend group has left the country in search of greener pastures. My rent is ridiculous and my salary is just enough for the things I need. Barely enough for savings and other things. I can’t continue in a Nigeria like this. So I started discussing politics with my friends a lot more than we usually did. I encouraged them to register for their PVC and to vote as well. I carried the matter on my head.
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Kunle: Abeg. I don’t like how this country is and I want to do my part in making sure it changes. That’s why in the usual fashion of encouraging my friends to do things, I reached out to Femi to find out his plans for the election. As we were talking, I found out he planned to vote for a different candidate than me and that’s when the fighting started. I’d question him about the reasons for his choice and he’d never give me a sensible answer. I was irritated. I’d send presidential rallies, articles and videos to try to convince him otherwise, but he didn’t budge.
The day I saw him actively campaigning for his candidate? I wanted to beat him up. I knew his irresponsibility was a lot, but is he not tired of how this country is? To me, it was like he was actively putting our lives in danger. I didn’t care if he was just one vote. I couldn’t look past the display of foolishness. The friendship could not continue. Before someone will associate me with his brand of nonsense.
That was it?
Kunle: That was it. I didn’t need either reason. Which other reason could I have possibly needed? Political irresponsibility is basically murder. If you’re irresponsible with your vote, your candidate and the policies you support, you’re risking people’s lives by trying to elect the worst option possible.
Kunle: I simply stopped talking to him
and he stopped talking to me either. We’re on two opposite sides, so there’s no fence sitting that can happen here. His mother still asks after me and I occasionally call to say hello, but Femi? Never again o. When we see each other outside, we act as if we don’t know each other. Our mutual friends have picked up on it, but they haven’t asked why exactly we stopped talking.
Do you regret it?
Kunle: My future and that of Nigeria is more important to me than any friendship. I can and will end any friendship over politics.