The economy of Warri back then rested squarely on the oil exploration companies, and on the companies that served/ serviced them. Shell was the de facto government in Warri. NNPC followed a close second. They owned beautiful housing estates that had swimming pools, well-manicured lawns, clubhouses and an otherworldly ambience. If you had friends and family living in “Shell Estate” then you were a big man for sure.
You never went quietly to visit your relatives in those places. If you were a shy and quiet kid like me, you would whisper it in a few choice ears that you would not be around after church on Sunday because the family will be visiting that your uncle that resides in NNPC quarters. That was all. Your status went up several notches. And you were hated the more.
And then more kids would want to befriend you so they can come over to watch TV. And so on and so forth.
But there were other companies that gave you status, set you apart somewhat. I already mentioned the oil- servicing companies; they paid well and had “class.” I remember McDermott, although for many years, I could not accept the idea of McDermott as a company; I think the street on which the company was situated was named after it, and McDermott road became more popular than McDermott company. But they were an okay company to work for.
There was NPA- Nigerian Ports Authority- they were high up there with the oil coys. My best friend, Toma, was an NPA kid, so I could flex some on her account.
Lower down the ladder were companies like Kingsway stores (Kingsway Rendezvous was the first fast food company of its kind in Warri, I believe it gave birth to present day Mr. Biggs. They had the best meatpie in the entire universe!)
And then there was AG Leventis, which was where we belonged. And we were alright too, in our own way. There were many other companies that made Warri the vibrant city it was back then; long before the militancy and the nyamanyama that followed.
Soon we shall make Warri great again. Who will blow the TRUMPet?
Elsie Dennis-Oghenekaro is a successful Author, columnist, Traveling Consultant & a Warri person. She’s based in Abuja Nigeria with her lovely family.
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