Remembering Hercules, Lewinsky And The Lessons From Their Lives

By Patrick Albert



I still recollect with nostalgia, the sweet and challenging memories of my stay in Kaduna, the ‘crocodile city’ from 1991 – 2003.



I sojourned to the historical town, the base of the then dreaded ‘Kaduna Mafia,’ the amorphous northern political think-tank, that was believed to superintend over the governance of Nigeria, on a deployment by my employer, the Akwa Ibom Newspapers Corporation – publishers of The Pioneer group of newspapers as the City Editor.



My posting, against my initial fears, turned out to be an adventure. So many things came up. Upon my arrival, vis-a-vis the presence of The Pioneer Newspaper in the city, a renaissance was ignited amongst indigenes of Akwa Ibom, who were in the media, and we got together, leading to the formation of Akwa Ibom Journalists Forum, Kaduna and floating of a news magazine, The Paragon. However, these and other enterprising endeavours, including my eventual election in 1999 as the President of Akwa Ibom Community, Kaduna, are not the subject of this piece. Such may come up in due course.



As a media practitioner and public officer, an event threw up that I still recollect and reflect on, even after several years. I had secured an apartment at Kwoi Close, Tudun Wada, not too far from the slaughter (Abattoir) and the Tudun Wada Market popularly known as ‘Kasuwar Barchi’. That was late 1995. The apartment, a three-bedroom, neatly finished, was one of the two in the compound, owned by a Katsina man, a fine gentleman and a bureaucratic.



Getting the house had given me joy and reinforced my pride as an Akwa Ibomite. The landlord, who worked in one of the Federal Ministries in Abuja, had kept the house for months, until he “gets someone he is satisfied will maintain the apartment” in his words “live decently.”



As he (landlord) sauntered into town, the agent, one Salisu, informed me and we fixed appointment to see him in Malali, where he resided. I went with a friend, a Lt. Colonel in the Army, who is from Akwa Ibom.



Immediately, we were ushered into the compound and he met us after introduction by the agent, he enquired (after I had mentioned my name and career) thus: “Gentleman, you are from where? And I told him, “Akwa Ibom Sir.” He responded, “Oh, that’s great. I’m from Katsina State. We are brothers. Our states (Akwa Ibom and Katsina), were created on the same day. I can see, your people are decent and honest.” He turned to the agent: “Go and give him the keys.” He turned back to me: “He will tell you what to pay but move in first. Take care of the property.” I was excited and we left.



It was a pleasant environment. Friendliness ensued amongst neighbours. Movement into and out of the area was unhindered. Tudun Wada was quite busy with commerce and social life. As occasioned such a commercial environment, security concerns crept up. Miscreants lurked about to steal any item of value. I had wanted Alsatian dogs but one of our chaps, an Air Force personnel promised to get me hunting dogs from hunters near the Air Force Base in Mando, Kaduna. He convinced me that they were as ferocious as Alsatian specie. He did, and I got two puppies, a male and a female. I christened the male Hercules and the female, Lewinsky. The latter’s name was not unconnected with Monica Lewinsky; the lady in the celebrated scandal with the then US President.



The two dogs grew up and lived up to expectations. They barked at, and attacked any perceived threat or intruder within and outside the apartment. Men, it was great, having them. However, the male – Hercules, as he grew older, limited his friendliness, even with me and my family members. The only time he was ‘friendly’ was when food was served and it must be in his kennel before he could eat. Force was usually applied to get him out of his kennel for cleaning and even for the regular veterinary treatment. Lewinsky was very friendly. However, for security purposes, Hercules was 100 percent better and Lewinsky only complimented, both in the day and night.


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We were concerned about Hercules’ hardline lifestyle; eating only inside his kennel, refusing to associate and staying all to himself and most often in the kennel, without even entertaining much of comradeship with Lewinsky. He will only come out of the Kennel to bark and attack when enemy is perceived or ease himself and then quickly retreat. We eventually gave up about trying to be nice and having to pet the dog to be friendly. We took him for the security services he provided. Period.



In the year 2000, Kaduna religious riots surfaced. Tudun Wada was no longer what it used to be. Fanatics made the area very uncomfortable. I had a security information to leave the area, and it came from a reliable source. I had to arrange and get my family back to Akwa Ibom and operated scarcely from my residence. The riots had lasted from about February 21 to May 23, 2000 but with peaceful intervals. Unverified death toll ranged from 1,000 to about 5,000. The ugly incident also claimed the lives of more than 50 Akwa Ibomites. As the then President of Akwa Ibom Community, it was not possible to leave town at that time because of having to coordinate our people and secure relief materials for affected families and arrange transportation for those who were willing to relocate. I had to secure escort to move about.



In one of the deadliest uprising in Tudun Wada, I had to leave my residence hurriedly and stayed away for about two weeks. The rampaging rioters almost got me but I escaped inexplicably. I left Hercules and Lewinsky in the house. I had taught, before the next day, normalcy would be restored. But, it wasn’t so.



After more than a week, when normalcy relatively returned; I got escort to go to the house only to see that Hercules had died inside his Kennel. But Lewinsky was alive and kicking. She had shown friendliness to my neighbours, who were natives of Kaduna State, in the other apartment and they fed her. But Hercules couldn’t be friendly even in pretense. He had cultivated the habit of eating only in his Kennel and I was not around or any of my family members to do just that, and he starved and died!



Lewinsky celebrated my return to the house as if she knew what was going on. I almost wept. I thanked my neighbours for taking care of Lewinsky. They told me that they couldn’t get near to feed the male dog and that he refused to eat the meals usually kept outside for him. They assured me that Lewinsky will be cared for. I thanked them for the kind hospitality towards the dogs, entered the house, picked few items and left as the escort wanted no delay.



Since then, the thoughts of Lewinsky and Hercules have been with me. It constructs a lesson about character, relationships and the benefits out of any particular lifestyle one chooses to live.

-Patrick Albert is a journalist and a media consultant.
Friday, May 1, 2020

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