My name is Harad Banier I was a Liberian Refugee in Nigeria, hear my story. Before the Liberian civil war that leads to genocides, I lived with my father, Rami Banier, he was a Money Lender. My father was very fund of me, though I was born crippled, he loved me. Because of his love for me as the only child, he will take me in my wheel chair with him everywhere he went. One day I asked my father, “father, why do people borrow money?” He smiled and replied, “My Son, people borrow money because they can’t save. If they can save money, they will not have to borrow more than once or twice. Nevertheless, I am happy they can’t save, cause, the day everyone begins to save money our business will begin to die. Notwithstanding, nature has made it that there will always be borrowers and lenders” This was the defining moment of my destiny because I felt like been a lender from the passion my father spoke about his business. But how this will be, I really did not know because I am crippled.
Years later the Liberian war started and there was no hope that those who had borrowed money from my father were going to pay back nor was anyone interested in borrowing from him. Before the war became serious,father had to withdraw all his money from the bank and buried them at the back of our house. A month later the war had escalated and degenerated beyond just civil to genocide where massacres were the order of the day. International peace keeping organizations like ECOMUG and The United Nations Organization had all flew in to help curtail the degeneration of the war.
This fateful morning I was seated outside at the front of our house, when I saw a van loaded with men carrying weapons. Suddenly they pulled over and started shooting at every living creature. Fear griped me as I saw for the first time men, women and children falling as the bullets from the gun men blew them up. Moments later the whole village was silent and the men began to advance towards me, then I scream “Papa Papa!! Help!!” when my father heard my shout he couldn’t hide any more. So he came out from where he was hiding, just as he did one of the Gun men said “this is the popular money lender” “Yes I am, please let us live and I will give you every money that I have, replied my father. The big guy amongst thme laughed, good offer, follow him and get the money, he ordered two of his men.
My father took them to the back of the house where he had buried the money and gave everything to them. When they came back, the big man looked into the bag and laughed again “you where really making profit to have saved so much” he then turned as if he was leaving and suddenly returned and pulled his trigger and shot my father in the belly. The sound of the gun deafened me as it went out and faintly I could hear him saying “you want to live so you can finance my enemy, finish him but the boy must not die by our hands, curse be him who kills a born cripple” at the word cripple one of the Gun men pulled his trigger again and before he could release the finger my father screamed “We Are Lenders” at that very moment the bullet shattered his skull and the blood splashed all over me. I was as dead as my father, scream I couldn’t, I just passed out.
About two hours later, I could hear the sound of my father’s last words, so I opened my eyes and there was dead silence everywhere. I looked at my father he was still and coated in blood, tears rolled down my cheeks and the words kept echoing in my ears. I blamed myself for screaming because I felt empty and useless without my father, that it would have been better if he lived and I die. I sat there all night long weeping and periodically calling out for help. In the morrow, when it was dawn, I heard the sound of a vehicle coming to a halt. I at first thought it was the gun men coming for me then I realized it was the peace keeping force from United Nations. I was taken to the refugee camp outside the borders of Liberia and from there to the refugee camp in Nigeria.
At the refugee camp in Nigeria, we were well feed and taken care of by the Government and other Nonprofit Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and individual philanthropists. The able-bodied Liberians were released after four months to fend for themselves, while the physically challenged were left behind to be cared for by the government and these organizations and individuals. For me, I knew my disability was only in my legs and not my mind, so I tried severally to get out of the camp to fend for myself but this was not going to happen as long as I remained in the wheel chair and the hope of getting out of the wheel chair was long gone back in Liberia. Therefore, I needed someone who was not in a wheel chair to help me get out of the camp.
Two years later on my sixteenth birthday, came this young girl of about my age, whom I have always seen with her philanthropist parents who comes to offer us gifts. I took a step of faith and rolled down to her and introduced myself, “Hello, my name is Harad Banier, the son of a money lender and we are lenders” . She smiled and replied, “ I am Treasure Ogundeyi” Treasure! I screamed, and she said yes. “You are the one that I seek” I replied. She laughed. I invited her to my corner, there we chatted and laughed. Then I asked her why she likes coming with her parent every time, she replied “I want to touch people’s lives when I am of age..” I never waited for her to ask me what I want to become, because it was obvious I can’t do anything. Knowing how interesting it was to her my father calls me by my name, I responded, “Treasure, I want to leave this camp and be a Money Lender” There was this air of surprise on her face, “Money Lender?” She asked, and then I nodded because her parents were coming so she waved me good bye and I did same to her. I was so excited that I finally have a friend that is not on a wheel chair.
Treasure’s parents normally visit the camp every two months so I eagerly waited to see her again but never showed up again with her parents. Every time I kept asking after her because I never wanted to reveal my intentions to too many persons. I waited and waited, then all hope of achieving my father’s dream was gone, nevertheless, I kept hearing his last words, ‘We Are Lenders’, echo through my mind day and night. Two years later, one morning, the camp attendant came to me and said “ There is a young lady asking to see you, her name is Treasure she….” The attendant was still talking when I screamed, “She is my friend, please let her in”.
Treasure entered with a wild smile on her face and hugged me in my wheel chair and said, “ The Money Lender, I need some money”. We both laughed and I replied, I will lender you some money, but without interest” She broke into another round of laughter and suddenly stopped. Harad, do you really mean what you are saying? She asked. Yes, I replied. How is that possible? She asked again.
I then beckoned on her to come closer, which she did “I will beg and save” I whisper into her ears. She looked at me with that same surprise. Are you serious? She asked, like seriously I replied she stood, handed me some money and said “We Are Lenders, I will see you next week”
Treasure left and told her parents according to her, they opposed the idea of her helping me to leave the camp because she never wanted revealed our intention. I say our intention because she became my manager. After so much crying and starving herself of food, her parents offered to help because she was their only child. A week later I saw her and her parents walk into the administrative office, immediately I knew my days at the camp was over. An hour later she ran down to me hugged me and said in my ears “Let’s go lend some money” I was speechless for a moment and then tears ran down my cheek. She looked at me and wiped my tears. While she did, I held her hand and said “Those are the exact words of my father” she leaned to my ears again and said I am sorry for reminding you of your father” as she was about to rise I held her back and said” I love you Treasure” for that was always my reply to my dad” she was surprised again but held herself and said “we have to leave now, dad and mom are waiting.
As we drove back home I noticed they only did that to make Treasure happy as they spoke a language I now speak and understand ……YORUBA. While the argument ensued Treasure broke into tears and spoke in English, “I never said he was coming to the house with us, I only asked you to help me bring him out” At that point there was a dead silence because she and her parenst suddenly realized that what they were hiding had been let out. Five minutes later, I broke the silence “Daddy, Mommy, thank you for bringing me out of that camp. I actually dislike the idea of someone providing for my needs always, that why I asked Treasure to help me get out so I can fend for myself. Treasure’s Dad replied, ‘we understand but …” you don’t understand anything Daddy! Treasure screamed. That same moment I was mad inside of me because my dad thought me never to talk back at an elder when he or she is taking so I shouted “Treasure, how dare you talk to your father like that! She looked at me and shook her head, then began to cry again. I held her and pulled her head down, she resisted then I said out loud ‘ I am sorry Treasure “ let’s go lend some money” she raised her head, wipe her face and smiled. Then turned to her father and said Daddy, I am sorry. “Let’s go Lend some money” it’s Ok Treasure, but what is ‘let’s go lend some money?. Treasure’s Dad asked, Treasure turned to me then i shook my head. She understood I never wanted anyone to know so she said “nothing Dad, just our slogan. Okay, where do we go from here? Treasure’s mother asked. Oshodi Treasure replied. She directed the way to the place at Oshodi where disablde people live, she took me to the owner of the place by herself while her parents waited in the car. When we got there she said, “Ekale sir, this is my boyfriend that I paid a corner for. The man was surprisde to hear a beautiful young girl of her age call a cripple her boyfriend. But Treasurer never minded him, she handed me the receipt of my stay and some money, when I open the receipt I saw, “N18, 000.00 being payment for two years rent” I was speechless, all I could say was “I love you” She leaned towards me and said “Now, let’s go lend some money” kissed me on my forehead and left.
My day one at the (“lle Atoro bara”) beggars’ lodge as it is known, was experimental, for all I did was discovery and understanding by signs and gesture as most of them cannot speak or understand English except their begging “slogan”.
The night of that day I prayed to God for favour and love from everyone I will meet and also asked for the right ‘slogan’. The following morning when I woke up a heard a voice so loud in my mind” “Give and you shall receive from God,” Bless is he that giveth” I knew this was my slogan. Moment later, while I sat there thinking of who will help me to the bathroom, a young chap walked up to me and said “I fit be your boy?” I said ‘yes’. How much you go pay me? He asked. I was speechless, because I don’t know if my dream was going to work out as planned yet. So I said ‘I give you ten naira now, you take me to Bathroom and Toilet” the chap smiled and stretched out his right hand “money first’ he said. So I reach out for my wallet and handed him the Ten Naira. While I was yet in the bathroom, the boy knocked and said “your wife don com’ my wife? I asked, yes the chap replied then I realized he was talking about Treasure, remembering how she introduced me to the lodge owner. When I was done, Treasure took me out to an eatery, there we ate and discussed the whole plan.
I was to be saving at least N275 every day. Treasure, being a mathematician, has planned a ten years period for me to save N1, 008,780. Then we will be done with begging and begin the lending business. She suggested she was going to be taking me out every day before she goes to school. That was very encouraging to me, knowing that I have her by my side.
Therefore she will come every morning and help me into the bus and off we go to Victoria Island which was her desired place for me because the people there are wealthy. The first six month I was always meeting our target but with little or nothing left to feed or pay for transport back to ‘work’ as she calls it.
On this fateful but unpleasant day Treasure never showed up and I never made any plan for a help boy, so I was worried about Treasure’s wellbeing and also worried about our target and what to eat. I sat there thinking of what I should do from morning till about 2:30pm noting came to mind. Suddenly I remembered I can pray, so I prayed for Treasure’s wellbeing, while I was praying it occur to me there is a traffic circle close to lodge where I can help myself to. I rode down there, the junction was dry, and passerbies were few. Then I started with my normal slogan “Bless is he that giveth! Give and you shall receive anything you ask from God. I did not finish the first chanting when money began to come. That day I made times two of what we use to make at Victoria Island. I was very exited but sad, because I don’t know what had prevented Treasure from coming. Then following day I waited for her till same time, she never came, I prayed again and went to work without her at the junction. For four months I prayed to see her again. I was making money, but was not happy inside, every night I will wake up and cry to God to keep her alive for me. I cried to the point everyone one at the lodge knew something was wrong. On the first day of the fifth month, at about 2:25pm while I was preparing to go to work after praying I waiting for Treasure to come then I saw someone coming clothed in black kaftans and headscarf, I pause to recognize the face as she walk straight to lodge, lo and behold it was Treasure, when she saw the surprise in my face she began to run towards me.
For the very first time in my life I forget I was crippled. There was this sudden supernatural urge to meet her and hug her so I stood up from the wheel chain and began to run towards her, but suddenly she stopped in amazement, then I turned, looking back I saw my wheel chain without me in it, immediately I remembered I am crippled and down I slummed like a log of wood, she ran over to meet me, what happened she asked? I don’t know, I replied, you were running Tom. She said, how I wish I can run again and again towards you and you alone. I replied. She looked at me and said, Tom, you shall walk again towards me. We both sat there shielding tears when she said “Dad and mum are dead” immediately she said that I heard the sound of the gun shot that took my dad and there was a dead silence for about sixty seconds. Then I said “Thank God you are alive for me. She held me to her bosom and we cried and cried. That was the only day I never worked in ten years.
The morrow was a Sunday, Treasure came in her father’s car and said “are you set for work my darling? I replied ‘yes’ but not Victoria Island. Why? She asked. Let’s talk somewhere more private: I replied. “Fine, let’s go to the car and talk” answered. While in the can I brought out the money I have made since she was not around, treasure was surprise. How did you do it? She asked. “I think the average people are more merciful than the rich people.” I replied. Then I told her how I prayed every day and night and waited for her till 2.30pm for the whole four month before going to work at the junction by the lodge… I was still talking when I heard the sound of the vehicle engine started and the car moved. Where are we going? I asked, Home’ she replied, but I have to work today, I said. It is not 2:30pm yet Tom: she replied. “I don’t have to wait till 2:30pm any more now that you are back and healthy. I could make more money if I started early …” I was not done with my words when she said “This is my time, wait for me” I had nothing else to say. So she drove on. When we got home she helped me out of the car and into the house it was a three bedroom duplex neat and well furnished. She brought me a bottle of wine from the fridge. “Make yourself comfortable I will be back soon”. She left for the bathroom while I sat down there thinking of what she is up to and how I will start with the wine being the first time in my life to taste a wine.
I Summoned courage and began to sip the wine when she emerge in a loose night gown. She took the cup from me filled it with wine and gulped it all and took another one and did same. What happened next is history and it was the first for both of us.
After that day we began to live together as she was abandoned by her family because her father gave-up every money they had to the assassins who promised never to rape her or kill her if her father will give them everything. Her father did what the assassins asked and at the end of one week of their adoption when they had successfully cashed all the cheques, they killed her parenst and brought her back to their house at midnight. Since then it has been her aunty supporting her.
Two months later Treasure got pregnant, but she suggested we abort the pregnancy so we don’t have to forfeit the lending dream to taking care of the baby. I agreed with her. After then I asked her to go back to school because I was making far above our initial daily budget.
Ten years later, it was Christmas eve, Treasure came home one evening and said “Honey, Let’s Go Lend Some Money” I smiled. Then she brought out our account statement, I was surprised, to find out we have just saved One Million Six Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira (N1, 620,000.00). Both of us screamed because we had earlier said we were not going to check the account balance until its ten years.
The joy of our achievement kindled a wild love fire that landed us in the bedroom. Treasure blew my mind with love for over four hours that I again for the second time forgot I was crippled. As she jumped out of bed with excitement I sprang to my feet and chased her to the living room. She turned, saw me coming on my feet but never stopped until I got to her. She held me and said ‘Tom, I love you, please remain standing for me” again I remembered I was supposed to be sitting in wheel chair and my ankles begin to weaken, but suddenly I said “I love you more when I stand and I shall stand for you and you alone. She held me closer and kissed me” we both stood there in our arms for another two hours then she left me to stand alone. After that night I never needed the wheel chair again. But for people not to feel I was faking my situation, Treasure suggested we leave for Liberia and start the lending business there, because peace had returned to Liberia.
Thereafter, she took me to her father’s and mother’s family told them she wants to marry me, most of them reject the idea but there was nothing they could do to stop her, knowing how both of us have lived since she lost her parent. She paid the bride price from the money we have saved and then proceed to the registry and registered our union. While all these things were happeninh she pushed me in the wheel chair only when we are outside. Finally we went to Liberian embassy, got our passport and left Nigeria.
As God will have it there was a man of God praying for people at the airport in Liberia the day we arrived so Treasure leaned and whispered into my ears her plan, I nodded. Then she pushed me to the man of God and said sir, please pray for my Husband. The man looked at us and began to pray while he was still praying I stood up from the wheel chair then everybody including Treasure screamed. Then the man of God began to thank God, Treasure took some money and gave to the man of God as healing offering and collected the man’s church address and we left for the hotel. After a hot honeymoon love-making for two days we got ourselves an apartment.
One week later Treasure broke the news saying Honey, now we are three, Let’s Go Lend Some Money! I screamed, lifted her up and said, thank you Honey, I love you so much.
This is how I became how I am today.