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How This Nigerian Got Saved in Florida (Part 1)

My name is Kenechi Okoli. Feel free to call me KC. I was born on a Sunday, June 19 1983 in Lagos, Nigeria.
This post is basically to Glorify God, not myself, and maybe be an inspiration to somebody else. It is about my transition from a messed up life to the grace of God opening my eyes to the amazing reality of eternal redemption and forgiveness through Jesus.
I won’t go into all the details of my childhood and upbringing as that would take forever (plus I’m not that important), but I was born into a wealthy family and didn’t grow up poor at all. I finished secondary school in 2000, and wrote JAMB, desiring to study medicine at Unilag. To keep it short, they didn’t accept me. I found out from two friends that students could write SAT and study abroad in the US. My mind was made up! I began the research and process to achieve this goal.
Bomb Squad
In-between finishing high school and trying to get into university, I had begun to put my love of rap music into personal expression along with some like-minded friends. “Bomb Squad” was birthed (I thought it was an extremely lame and lazy choice for our group name, but one member reminded me that “Ruff Ryders” didn’t do too bad for themselves lol true story). We recorded a few tracks, of which Barajė became a local, then later national hit (after I had travelled abroad). I forsook the music to go to school.
Welcome to God’s own country
I wrote the SAT and TOEFL, passed excellently, was accepted into Jacksonville State University in Alabama (they were cheaper than almost all other 4-year colleges ☺), was granted a visa at the interview, prepared my traveller’s cheques, and was on the next plane heading to the glorious land.
Early drama
I registered for Fall 2003 classes (August to December) and also got a decent paying job… All was well…Yes, until my stupidity started to kick in.
First, a little incident at work caused me to “change am” for my supervisor, and I got fired ☺. Then a little later, I got into credit card fraud (identity theft). The university found out. I got kicked out of school, and also arrested by the police. I was under-21 at the time of arrest so that made me a YO (youth offender) and I was given 2 years probation. I was devastated, thinking I was surely going to be shipped back to naija… but, for whatever reason, immigration never came knocking.
Florida sounds better
I got another job and even enrolled in another school (Gadsden State Community College) in Alabama. But in truth, I didn’t want to be in the AL. I only made that my choice originally because of the low tuition. But now I was no longer a student at JSU, so what was the point? I wanted to explore! I had two cousins in nearby Florida; Miami to be precise. What was I doing here?
I didn’t want to make it look like I was moving to Florida because of them. I also didn’t appreciate the seasonal hurricanes that Miami-Dade county was known for. For these two reasons, I opted for the capital city, Tallahassee, instead.
I managed to pack all my things from my apartment into my ’94 Toyota Camry, and arrived Tallahassee in August 2005, one or two days after hurricane Katrina ransacked New Orleans. I got yet another job and enrolled in another school (Tallahassee Community College). But Florida was WAY different. The lifestyle sucked me in quickly and without mercy (later down the road, a female friend said if I had moved to and lived in Miami instead, it would’ve made me worse!).
A critical moment
Things like guns (fully and semi automatics), drugs (cocaine, marijuana, x-pills, etc), strip clubs, and many more, were normal for most Floridian youth, especially in the African-American and Latino community. I did not escape. I wonder how I managed to keep one job for almost 3 years.
This was a delivery driver job. I drove a van to deliver windshields to different customers. I could start work anytime from 5pm, but I liked to come in real late and do my deliveries overnight. It was just more fun.
On one fateful night, I and a good friend of mine decided to go clubbing in Panama City, FL. This particular club was not far from my last delivery destination, so I took care of the task first then we were ready to party. Many things happened but to cut a long story very short, we caught our trips, got some numbers, and were on the way back to Tallahassee.
We were on the long stretch of Interstate-10, and Sean fell asleep first, still buzzed. Wow. I had no one to talk to now, so I turned up the radio and kept it moving. SUDDENLY and to my great surprise, I was awakened by the van bumpily speeding down the rough terrain of the median (the middle strip that separates the two sides of the highway). I had fallen asleep behind the wheel and the vehicle had veered to the undeveloped middle terrain. My immediate reaction was to turn the steering wheel hard, intending to get the van back onto the road. BAD DECISION! This overcompensation while moving at a high speed, coupled with the roughness of the bumpy ground, caused the van to literally flip off the ground into the air. It hit the ground again and continued rolling till it stopped on the other side of the highway, surprisingly upright on its four wheels. I remember the thought that came to me while helplessly inside the somersaulting machine—“I guess this is it.” Talking about death. But we did not die. Didn’t even break a bone or suffer any great injury, just cuts here and there (mostly from the shattered windshield), and a good amount of blood lost.
After we had thrown the alcohol bottles into the bushes, the highway patrol came, they smelt the liquor, made sure we were alright, and gave me a ticket for reckless driving (after letting me know that he knew I had been drinking but will spare me from being handed a DUI, which carries a far greater monetary fine, and possibly some time in county jail, depending on the judge). I called my then girlfriend and she came and picked us up. I lost my easy, $10/hr, almost three year old job because of this event…
To Be Continued… I have to break up the story into pieces because of length (sorry)… Part 2 coming VERY soon, the plot THICKENS!

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