Enugu is average, decent and seemingly contented with a life sufficiently placid but lacking in substance for sustenable flamboyance.
It is a city of brilliant kids who speak good English and their fathers who wear neckties and drive Toyota saloons to work, a city of educated bespectacled women who teach in schools and like to sit at high balconies from where they would look down and say to their kids or grandkids in a voice very mean yet quite soothing to the ear, ‘Junior, you need to do your homework, now!’
One million doctors, five hundred thousand academics, one hundred thousand bankers, twenty thousand radio and TV workers plus some hawks driving ‘green numbers’. This might be an exaggeration, though; do you need caution?
Of course there are traders in Ogbete and artisans in Coal Camp and Kenyatta and other nondescript corners of the city.
There are also some beautiful women who, if they cannot cook delicious ọkpa, can roast a few cobs of maize in the evenings or are doing one programme or the other at one of the many higher institutions in Enugu.
Young men could be operators at printing presses while some ladies are hands for manual book finishing, salesgirls or attendants at filling stations.
To see life in Enugu, imagine a handsome young man dressed in heavily starched and crisply ironed shirt and trousers in a Saturday afternoon. He’s peeking into a taxi to examine its interior for neatness and comfort. Now he has waved the driver forward because he has to board a better taxi from Upper Chime to Agbani Road to see his girlfriend. Yet he has only N1,500 in his new wallet.
Imagine this level of confidence and contentedness and think of what is more enviable. And you have a lot of it in the city of Enugu!
But the city is as seductive as it is deceitful. Life is peaceful and the civility on the roads and streets is alluring but you cannot see naira notes on the streets like you would even in Ilaje of Lagos.
A person visiting Enugu from Lagos, Onitsha or Aba will hunger for street fights and violence and aggression on the road but he will surely be starved.
The city does not drive too many posh cars and SUVs because there is not much money around but motorists are decorous enough and there is reasonable empathy on the road.
In most cities of Nigeria, an average motorist seems to wake up each day with inexplicable angst with which he or she hits the road.
It is often interesting how a total stranger behind a steering wheel in those cities would act as though the other motorists had all offended him.
But Enugu is commendably different. Drivers watch and respect other drivers’ blinkers and often allow others to peacefully join a lane from a street. They also allow them sufficient space to make U-turns.
I like to drive in Enugu because the traffic is hardly heavy. Spending up to five to ten minutes at a spot in traffic is quite rare there.
You have the absolute prerogative to wake up by 7.30 a.m. and still arrive the venue of a 9.00 a.m. meeting in time. Because the traffic is light and you do not have any mental affliction, you do not have to wake up by 4.00 a.m.
There is not much motivation for young residents to hustle for money and ‘make it’ like Emeka Malaysia who would land at Emene Airport and buy ten plots of land near GRA the following day.
It is easy to live a peaceful and comfortable life in Enugu but wake up at age 60 to realize that you forgot to get rich, and that is not a problem so long as you do not mind beyond mere regrets.