Saturday, May 30, 2009
Mother: Fowl! Over the bar!! No condition is parliament.
Watch out for an encounter with Mrs. Malaprop and her children in a TELL Opilogue coming out soon.
Friday, May 29, 2009
“We got our freedom on a platter of gold without firing a shot. Yet, we sustained more injuries and casualties than those who fought physically for their independence”
By the way, what’s your full name?
I’m Jeremiah Awolowo.
Photo credit: Nasirryu.com
Yes, but this Niagara is a country, not a waterfall!
I know. Actually I was in your country in 1963. It was during a stopover on my way from Mecca. I was heartily welcomed by your people who gave me the name ‘Omowale’. By the time I left for Ghana, I had become Alhaji “Omowale” Malcolm X.
How come the ‘X’? Are you a mathematician?
It’s a long story but briefly, it’s my own personal reaction to the stigma of slavery in the Americas. You know what? When an African was sold into slavery in those days, he was forced to adopt the slave master’s name for identification. My own forefathers were forced to drop their authentic African name and adopt the slave master’s which was ‘Little’ but I ain’t got nothing to do with no ‘Little’ so I said to hell with a Jim Crow name. Instead, I put an ‘X’ to stand in place of ‘Little’ to represent that unknown African name which my generation had lost. That’s how I came to be known as Malcolm X. In fact, that’s one of the propelling forces behind my revolutionary zeal during the Jim Crow days and I must thank El-Shabbard and Prophet Elijah of the Nation of Islam for their ideological support. I also remember the young and old comrades like Angela Davis and the Soledad Brothers, George Meredith, Claude Mackay, Marcus Garvey, Muhammad Ali and the hard-core militants in the Black Panther group. I must not fail to mention, also, the contributions of the clerics like Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Rev. Jesse Jackson and others who used their pulpits to rail against racist America.
They must have served the cause very well with their non-violence approach.
Not much. We had to speak to the oppressors in the language they understood. Thus, we had to fight our way through Alabama and Georgia and down the valleys of the Mississippi and Tennessee in search of liberty and freedom from Jim Crow, using every instrument of violence available to drive home our point. How was your own experience in South Africa, Mr. Walter Sisulu?
I think apartheid was a perfect clone of Jim Crow but our own experience was worse. It all had to do with extreme separation and inequality but our brave men and women fought the apartheid warlords to a standstill in the streets of Soweto and in the mines of Guateng. From the kraal to the veld, the brave Xhosa and Zulu warriors took the battle to the segregationists. We used everything we had also to fight the war. The sangoma, I mean the so-called witch doctors, helped to invoke the spirits of our ancestors to cast an evil spell on the land grabbers who turned Africans to squatters on their God-given land. Amandla!
Walter and Mac, I envy both of you. Your people became free after fighting vigorously for their freedom. In the process, you became stronger, more united and better focussed as a nation. In our own case, we got our freedom on a platter of gold without firing a shot. Yet, we sustained more injuries and casualties than those who fought physically for their independence. Since the British lowered the Union Jack in 1960, we have been in perpetual bondage. They, the colonial masters, knew that ours was an aggregate of nations encapsulated in one geographical expression called Niagara but they did nothing to counter or minimise the seismic effects of the centrifugal forces that were bound to pull the country apart. Instead, they cunningly stepped back after sowing the seeds of discord and instability by bestowing political leadership on a section they perceived to be disadvantaged in the socio-political equation of the emerging ‘nation’. That seed later grew into a wild baobab tree with varying branches of corruption, crises, coups, counter coups, civil war and, now, ‘cannibalism’, judging by the latest news from the terrestrial world. Those primordial sentiments and forces will continue to pull that geographical expression apart. Is that not so, Dike?
I disagree, Chief Awolowo. If our country were a mere geographical expression, the feuding forces would not have embarked on a systematic elimination of our people during the 1966 crisis and the subsequent Civil War. They surely had something in mind more than a united geographical expression they claimed to be fighting for. There is no way anybody can rule out the expansionist tendencies of the then ruling cabal. You will remember, chief, that this was how the Sundiatas, the Mansa Musas and the Mansa Ules went about expanding the frontiers of the old Mali Empire even to as far as Argungun and Gobir in Niagara. And this is what probably caught the fancy of the old caliphs to nurture the ambition to extend the boundaries of the Caliphate to as far as the Atlantic Ocean. Raji Abdallah, you remember? If I’m wrong, let me know since you were one of the earliest political activists from the North.
Professor Dike, we are saying the same thing. The British sowed the horrible seed and left with their tails between their legs while the people were left in a quandary on how to solve the various post-colonial problems. Since we changed mortality to immortality, you would discover that those who have been joining us here do not have good news to tell. It’s either the North is fighting the South or Muslims and Christians are killing one another or Hausas are attacking Igbos with machetes or Yorubas are yabbing and stabbing the Fulani. For how long can a nation continue to be in a state of anomie and perpetual disharmony? Prof, tell me. For how long will our people continue to suffer from internal strifes, external threats and inordinate ambition of the larger groups to out-British the British in colonising the minorities? Lawyer Akande who arrived a few days ago was telling me that too many ethnic militias are roaming the landscape demanding self-determination and causing political haemorrhage everyday. Could this be what we fought for? Is October 1 no longer symbolic of freedom and independence? My God!
Questions, questions, questions. But, gentlemen, we just have to wind up here. Angel Gabriel has just signaled to me that it’s time for Holy Ghost Fire. As they do on earth, so we do in heaven. Thank you very much and happy anniversary.
On a Platter of Bondage was first published in TELL October 4, 2004.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Is it not our elders that say children learn what they see their elders do? Our children have also become kidnappers and hostage takers as young as they are!
I salute you. I salute our ancestors. I salute the gods of our lands and waters. After all, if water salutes the throat, the throat will open for it. If canoe salutes the waves, the waves will make way for it. I salute our fighters. I salute our commanders. The hand always returns after feeding the mouth. Our combatants shall continue to come back home safe and sound from the battlefield.
Those who are standing behind us, both at home and in the diaspora, their feet will not ache. They will never get tired.
Great Izzons, lend me your ears. Our hands are already put to the plough and there is no looking back. But we should not do anything that would alienate us from our brothers and sisters. I am here today to let you know that our recent hostage-takings are becoming too indiscriminate and a thing of concern to the international community. We seize Chinese, capture Koreans and take Philippinos and kidnap Arabs. We even hold Indians! These are of no value to our cause. Our people have a saying, to the effect that if you want to eat frog, at least you must go for the fat, juicy ones. Indians, Chinese, Philippinos, Koreans and Arabs are neither fat nor juicy. But, speaking seriously, I think we are flogging the issue of hostage-taking to death. It has become so commonplace that we kidnap anything white in the name of ransom...
Our elder, I salute you. Please permit me to say that there is no room for sentimentality. War is war. The only good white man is the kidnapped one.
I am told you are currently holding another white man. Where is he from?
We don't know. He has not talked because he is blindfolded and gagged.
Can I see him?
Why not? OC, bring the hostage...
Remove the blindfold and the tape on his mouth...
Egbesuuu! Whaat! Who is this? See the person you are holding...
Who is he? What's so special about him? Is he the bushman's ambassador or the queen's high commissioner?
Don't you know this is our own man? Look at him very well. This is Benjamin Murray Booze! And this is exactly what I have just said. Is it every 'white man' we must kidnap for ransom? Booze is one of us. He is only ‘white’. He is from this state. You don't use the son of the soil for rituals. It's a taboo! An abomination! Great Izzons!
That reminds me of the atrocities now being perpetrated by every Dick and Harry, even children, in the name of liberation. Is it not our elders that say children learn what they see their elders do? Our children have also become kidnappers and hostage takers, as young as they are!
It's a lie! Children kidnapping? Kidnapping whom? No, never!
You have not heard my story, have you?
Bring it up. We are all ears.
This is the story of Little Dappa Diepriye as told by an NGO official at the last Izzon - in - Diaspora Congress held in Dublin last month. Little Diepriye's birthday was approaching. So, one day, he ran into his mother's room to remind her of what he wanted as a gift. "Mum, I want a bike for my birthday". His mother thought this was an opportunity to tame her troublesome child who was always getting into trouble at school and at home. She asked him if he thought he deserved any gift, given the many troubles he had got into over the past year. He said he did. Mother then asked Little Diepriye to think about how he had behaved in the year and then write a letter to God and tell Him why he deserved a bike for his birthday. The boy ran to his room to write what he thought would be a letter to convince both his mother and God: "Dear God", he started, "I have been a very good boy this year and I would like a bike for my birthday. I want a red one. Your friend, Priye." He read the letter over and he knew that he had told a lie. He had not been a very good boy this year. So, he tore the letter and started all over. "Dear God, I have been an 'OK' boy this year. I need a red bike for my birthday. Thank you. Your friend, Priye." Still, he was not satisfied. He wrote another." God, I know I haven't been a good boy this year. I am very sorry. I will be a good boy if you just send me a bike for my birthday. Please! Thank you, Priye." He knew this letter would not get him a bike even if his claim was true. He was upset but like a determined Izzon boy that he is, he went to his father's library to think of a new strategy to get a bike. He went through newspapers, magazines and books. At nightfall, he went back to his mum and told her he wanted to go to church. She felt happy, thinking that her plan had worked. Priye walked down the street to the church on the corner and went in through an open window when nobody was looking in his direction. He went straight up to the altar, bent down, picked the statue of Holy Mary and ran away with it down the street, into the house and up to his room where he hid it in his wardrobe. Now satisfied, he sat down to write his letter to God. "Dear God, I have kidnapped your mama. If you want to see her alive, send me a red bike, some chocolate and guns. Diepriye, the Izzon boy”. See what I mean? Great Izzons!
This Opilogue which first appeared in TELL August 21, 2006, was written in the wake of the criminalisation of the struggle for resource control in the Niger Delta.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
My friend, it's quite sometime you came to the salon. Hope nothing?
Ah, na you be this? It's my husband o! He will not allow me to go out again unaccompanied. I don't know what is wrong with him. He is too possessive. He says the hairdresser should rather come to our home to dress my hair. Can you imagine that?
Do you blame him? Good wives are scarce in town. He doesn't want to lose you to the wolves in human skin that are all over town.
Na lie! What did I say? Na lie!! The Niagara Population Census Board says women are more than men, so how can there be scarcity of women?
I said scarcity of wives, not women. Just as you have plenty of men but scarce husbands.
I beg, how do you mean?
I mean not all men or women are marriable materials. So don't blame your hubby. He is merely protecting what he has.
I understand and I don't mind. But what annoys me is that he is forcing me to be a witness to the constant display of his stupidity wherever he goes.
Has he done anything stupid of recent?
Of course! Whatelse do you expect oko mi Adio to do other than being stupid?
So what did he do?
Oko mi Adio recently insisted that I must accompany him abroad to attend a conference. I said, "no be me and you".
Where did he go?
Of course, he went to the
No, I mean the
What's the relationship between Olof Palmer and Olofinjana abi you are also stupid like my husband? I mean the land of NOBEL.
Sure, I expect your husband to go to the
You are a fathead! Don't you know the
Volvo ke? So he couldn't buy ordinary Volvo here and he had to go abroad to buy one?
It seems you are a Dundee United. Can't you get the clue?
What clue? Instead of you calling a spade a spade you are just dribbling me like Maradona. How can anybody get a clue with your usual rigmarole?
Okay, sorry. I mean he went to
Jesus Chriiiiist! That one is dangerous o!!
What's the problem?
Ah, that's the
Ero se kini? (Ero does what?)
E R O T I C A!!!
What's the problem with that? Oko mi Adio did not have time for whatever that means. He said he had too many issues to contend with to thinking erotica or whatever. But he admitted he saw double on the streets of the city he visited. He said he saw giant statues of men and women in public parks "nihoho omoluabi"..., some urinating to form a fountain of vulgarity!
I mean he saw statues of naked men and women with their dangling "jagbajantis" for all passers-by to see. What kind of country is that?. I asked him if he went to their beach on Saturday and saw what "omoluabi" (a cultured man) should not see but all he did was just giggle. He said he was too preoccupied with how to get a decent meal to dancing naked on the beach like the natives. He said the first day he got to the hotel he slept on an empty stomach because he misordered.
He misordered his priority?
Not exactly. Oko mi Adio said because he could not decode the gobbledegook on the menu list he just went for the costliest course thinking that at least he would have a bellyful of whatever was brought. He could not have been more disappointed. He said with all the disdain in his subconscious that when they brought the 'thing' all he could see was a microscopic garden on a vast plate of nothingness. In the "garden" was a bleeding piece of meat, perhaps meant for a cat, with some fresh grass and weeds on top of four tiny pieces of unpeeled potato. He gobbled the "garden" fast thinking it was the appetiser. Then the long wait began. Oko mi Adio waited and waited and waited. The next thing he saw was the waiter's bill. He must have fared worse than those waiting for Godot. Yet he paid $100 for the dinner that never was. The following day he headed downtown asking every Swede he met on the way the road to any Chinese restaurant. He eventually got one and my disoriented hubby did not know when he shouted at the tiny Chinese lady at the counter that he wanted to eat Chinese by all means. "I'm hungry. I want to eat Chinese, quick, quick..." The petrified Chinese lady was speechless and motionless. She must have seen an African version of Gorgon Medusa. Immediately she came to, she held a hurried dialogue with her mosquito legs and disappeared from the counter. She later reappeared with a man who looked more Vietnamese than Chinese. He said something in Mandarin and my husband did not wait for the translation before he bellowed out again, "I want to eat Chinese o!" The Chinese man retorted: "Chop chunn chunn?" Without thinking oko mi Adio said, "Yes, I wan chop Chinese, chunn...chunn...chunn". The man then asked in 'breaking' English: "You, come, where from?". "
What an experience!
You call that experience? I call it stupidity uncensored.
But that's not unlike Adio, your husband.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Finally, the chickens have come home to roost. The Lagbaja behind Opilogue has unmasked himself like Gbandu, the legendary Ife masquerade. To the uninitiated, Gbandu is a fiery, no nonsense egungun (masquerade) of the Alapansanpa pedigree. (Alapansanpa is a famous Ibadan masquerade). They are both daring. In a fit of anger or spiritual delirium Gbandu may suddenly remove his mask for all to see. There is no taboo in his egungun dictionary.
Unlike most masquerades he does not indulge in any guttural sophistry or in the luxury of whipping people with (koboko) horsewhip or (ore) the traditional whip. Instead he uses his bare hands to lash at your buttocks. Then, woe betides whomsoever he beats! Hence the song, "Bi Gbandu na e o, bo o de 'le o fogun sari e, bo o de 'le e e". (If Gbandu beats you with his bare hands make sure you perform some rituals when you reach home.) When he removes his mask his lieutenants rush to cover up the taboo but Gbandu does not care. He revels in doing the unusual, the unexpected, the funny, the bizarre.
This habit of removing his facial mask is often the climax of his outing during the egungun festival. But who dares to look Gbandu in the face? It's like daring to look at the face of Gorgon Medusa, the woman in Greek mythology whose hairs are snakes and who turns any man that looks in her face to stone.
Fortunately the Opilogue man who unmasked himself on the internet, May 22, 2009, is anything but Gorgon Medusa. He is as common as the guy next door. But why has he chosen to go the way of Gbandu? Why didn't he remain pictorially anonymous like Lagbaja, omo baba mukomuko, the Africano music exponent? It is necessary to clear some cobwebs of confusion over his identity. Some do not even know that the opiloguist is a man. Not a few think he is a lady. But, for Pete's sake, how did they come about that weird assumption?! Yet some think he is a boy!! For the sake of those who want to know the face behind the mask and those who think it is infra dig to open a blog and not show one's face (Is that not meant for those on Facebook or My Space?) Mr Opilogue has literally gone naked to the marketplace. As you can see he is not Omoye, the proverbial little kid who went to the market without her clothes on, but rather Baba Omoye (Omoye’s father) himself. No amount of lexical wrappers can cover up his nakedness again. He has come this far.
His journey through life is a study in hardship and hard work ('Original Sufferhead', as Fela would put it). It is a journey that has been long and tortuous. You can see from his blood-shot eyes, yet this is a man who has never smoked a stick of cigarette in his life. They are red as a result of nature inflicted pressure. The soles of his feet are worn out like the soles of Obama's shoes while on the campaign trail during the last American elections ( see the TIME picture of his weather-beaten shoes). He has traversed the nooks and crannies of this world like a Jehova Witness preaching the gospel of love and social justice. Born in Agege (Lagos State) when eyes were literally located on the knees, bred in Ife (Osun State) and buttered (educated) in Ondo (Ondo State) and Ibadan (Oyo State), he has worked in Kazaure (Jigawa State), Okene (Kogi State), Ogbomoso (Oyo State), Ibadan (Oyo State) and currently in Lagos (Lagos State). His working experience began with a stint in the civil service of old Western State as an inspector of farm produce meant for export; another short period in the teaching service during which he taught at Oro Grammar School, Oro, (Kwara State), Government Secondary School, Kazaure, Community High School, Ogaminana, Okenne, Baptist High School, Ogbomoso and Lagelu Grammar School, Ibadan.
He has also been to many corners of the world including USA, Britain, Sweden, Tunisia, Ethiopa, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Congo, Angola, Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic. But has he ever visited his hometown?
Mr Opilogue comes from a town variously referred to as 'Jerusalem', 'Little London', 'Honolulu' or simply 'The Beauty in the Valley'. But on the map of Nigeria it is represented by a tiny dot inside an equally tiny state called Osun. And now, if Osun State is called the state of the Living Spring, Otan Ayegbaju, his hometown, is a magnificent linear settlement which crawls round the feet of its ancient hills that jealously cast a perpetual shadow of protection over its inhabitants. Though predominantly Ijesha, they are a shouting distance from Ekiti State. It takes a 30-minute drive from Otan Ayegbaju through Ila Orangun to Oke Imesi in Ekiti West.
Now you know the man behind the metaphorical lagbaja mask. He is, perhaps, not as cute and urbane as you might have thought. Indeed, it will be stretching imagination too far to describe him as a macho man. That will be sending the models on a laughing spree on the catwalk. One thing is sure, however, he is not a spring chicken as somebody once suggested in a text message. Neither is he a “winter turkey” nor a polar bear! His feet, like his blood-shot eyes, have seen better days. By now they are already used to roving the dark streets and blind alleys in search of a true meaning to life in Nigeria other than the cash-and-carry mentality of the average Nigerian.
You may call him 'ara oke', if that's cheeky enough, and he will not take offence. Rather he is akin to take it literal because he actually lives upland among hills way back home though not on top like the now famous Koma (comma?) people of Adamawa. If you care to know, his coindigenes are not comma but semi-colon(!) who live in 'koto' (valley) and 'geregere' (slopy terrain) where the infantry moves faster than the cavalry.
Now you know it. The Opilogue man has unmasked himself. The myth has been broken and the mystery is gone. The black arrows shall fly no more.
Friday, May 22, 2009
CRUCIFIXION OF THE FAITHFUL
"The Church insisted that the unborn twins had the right to live and could not be eliminated even if they were another bunch of "genocide children" whose mothers conceived them at gunpoint!"
See Crucifixion of the Faithful in the next edition (No. 22, June 1, 2009) of TELL, your favourite magazine.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
"Have you got your own copy of a prayer said by a Kansas State senator sometime ago?"
"What prayer and which senator?"
"It was an opening prayer delivered at the opening session of their senate by one of them, a minister called Joe Wright."
"And what's so special about the prayer that everybody is now hungry for ir"?
"It's special because when he was asked to kick off the new session with a prayer everybody was expecting the usual mumbo- jumbo religious cliches and generalities. But this minister astounded all. He came out smoking like old, dazzling Smokin' Joe by jolting everyone with an upper cut, gbosa! like that".
"That must be very wicked. How did the prayer go?"
"It went like this: 'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good', but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbour's possessions and called it ambition. We have ridiculed the time-honoured values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen' ".
"I think Niagaran politicians also need a prayer like that, don't you think so?"
"I doubt. If you don't stand for something, you will fall for everything. The Niagaran politician does not stand for anything".
"It's a lie. There are some among them who can also stand up like Wright and say a similar prayer".
"Like this: 'God, forgive us for we know we have sinned against the people by undermining the spirit and letters of the constitution in our 'grab-a-day' activities. We have stolen from the common wealth and called it allowances. We have stolen the people's mandate and called it free and fair burglary. We have compromised justice and called it rule of law. We have ridiculed public officers, ransacked the treasury and called it oversight function. We have left undone what we are supposed to have done and done those we are not supposed to have done and called it due process. We have slapped one another and headbutted sergeants-at-arms and called it law-making process. We have ridiculed our oath of office and defiled our time-honoured cultural values for a pot of isi-ewu (goathead pepper soup). God, search us and exorcise from our body politic the evil spirits of individualism, nepotism, ethnicity, regionalism and all forms of primitive loyalty for the greater glory of our dear country".
"To God be the glory!"
"That cliche again!"
"It appears you don't like it. Do you?"
"No, it is an overused expression. Niagarans have become so religious that THE END is no longer opin ( end of ) cinema for them. Virtually every film footage or home video or one-minute documentary now ends with TO GOD BE THE GLORY."
"What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing, except that it shows we have seemingly run out of ideas and ever ready to cover our shortcomings with religious tarpaulin. We are like the outsiders who weep more than the bereaved. We have watched National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, films showing seeming suicide missions to outerspace - the dangerous spacewalks, the floating space station, the heart-in-the-mouth docking manoeuvres and the kami-kaze rescue interventions like in the case of Apollo 13 - yet none of the films ends with TO GOD BE THE GLORY. I'm sure God, Himself, is worried about the sorry state of our mind in this our dear country".
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Mrs Evelyn Forcados, a young Lagos housewife, likes pets so much that she has a private zoo in her Ikoyi residence. One day she decided to look for a parrot to add to her collection of pets. She went to the nearby Palms Shopping Complex in Lekki and went straight into a pet shop looking for a cute parrot. The shop assistant told her that parrots were very expensive because of their communication ability. Eventually she showed the woman a beautiful parrot in an equally beautiful cage in one corner.
"How much is this one?", she asked the shop assistant. "It looks so beautiful".
"Why is it so cheap?"
"Well, there's a reason for that. It used to live in a seedy brothel in Ajegunle and as a result its language is a bit profane. Nobody seems to want to buy it".
"Oh, I don't mind that. I'm a broad minded woman and my husband would not mind it either. It will be a good laugh having a profane parrot in the house". Having said this, she purchased the parrot and took it home.
Once safely in its new home, the parrot looked around and squawked at the woman, "Hoooohooo....a new brothel and a new madam".
"I'm not a madam and this is not a brothel", she scolded the parrot trying not to laugh. A little later her two teenage daughters arrived home from a party, drunk as usual, one was puffing away on a stick of cigarette.
"Un...un...believable! A new brothel, a new madam, and now two new prostitutes", said the parrot when it saw the woman's daughters. The girls were not amused. "Mummy...hic..tell your bloody f......g parrot to shrrruuup...hic...we are not prrrostittttutes...hic", complained the youngsters but they could see the funny side of the encounter and they had a good laugh at their new pet. But their mummy was not smiling. A short while later their father came home and the parrot squawked again...."In...in...in...credible! A new brothel, a new madam, new prostitutes, but the same old customers!! How d'you do, Mr. Forcadozzzz? Long time, no zeee!"
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
“A general in politics is different from a general at war… Use power to serve your people and not lay ambush”
Mr. President and the good people of Nigeria.
I stand before you today as the leader of the Free World and as a representative of the American people who have asked me to express their good feelings and best wishes towards your country, the biggest democracy in the Black World. They salute your courage and wisdom in fighting past dictatorships and opting for democracy. Indeed, you have chosen well and the United States will always stand by you as you march ahead in your struggle to bring liberty, freedom and happiness to your dear country. We also take pride in seeing our country as the biggest democracy in the entire world. But we did not attain this feat on a platter of gold. We fought hard for it in the Rockies, on the Appalachians, in the valleys of the Tennessee and the Mississippi, on the Great Lakes and across the Prairies. For eleven summers and winters the patriots fought to secure the fatherland. Eventually the colonists were defeated and freedom came like spring after winter. Your country also fought the British colonists but you were luckier. While we secured our freedom on petals of blood, you got yours on a platter of gold. You have also survived a civil war. We, Americans, know what you’d have gone through but I must congratulate you, Mr. President, for having personally led Nigeria at the warfront and now at the political front. Few leaders in the world have had this unique opportunity.
However, let me sound a note of warning here. A general in politics is different from a general at war. Always remember the war is over and that politics is not the moral equivalent of war. Use political power to serve your people and not to lay ambush against their yearnings and aspirations. In Africa, poor leadership has led to internal conflicts, coup d’etats and civil wars leaving the people traumatised for life. We remember the wars in the Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Sierra Leone and, lately, Liberia with President Charles Taylor who is likely to end up in exile here. Mr. President, we, Americans have learnt from our own past and vowed not to let our hard-fought freedom slip away for a pack of chicken nuggets. There are checks and balances entrenched in the constitution which our visionary fathers laboured to write in the summer of 1787 after the War of Independence. That constitution is 216 years old this year and it has stood the test of time. I learnt, Mr. President, that in your country you always have a constitution for every President. This should not be so. A good constitution is for the people and not the personal black book of a ruler. It needs a strong framework on which solid structures are built and which will remain the guiding light as well as the reference point for the entire people at all times.
Having said that, please allow me to take you back to the last presidential election in the United States. I am sure you all still remember the drama that ensued before and after the final result was declared. For those who are not conversant with the workings of the American constitution, my opponent, Al Gore, should have been declared winner because he had a majority of the popular votes, having scored 51,003,894 while I scored 50,459,211. Yet, I was declared the winner because my own score fetched me more electoral votes. It is not a riddle but a constitutional provision, which stipulates that the Electoral College supersedes the popular votes in determining who becomes the President of the United States of America.
This is the beauty of our democracy. And this is the product I have come to sell to you. Buy it, have it and, wait a minute, blend it with local ingredients so as to give it a flavour that is distinctly African and at the same time universal. On my way here, I took time off to read one of the poems of Wole Soyinka, your Nobel laureate. It is titled Abiku. I was fascinated by his use of African experience to depict the unending cycle of death of the abiku child. To me, I think every African republic has the tendency of becoming an abiku republic. Let’s all vow today to work in the interest of fellow Africans so that the returning cycle of stillborn republics in the continent can be severed once and for all. I want to wish that this your Third (or is it fourth?) Republic does not die prematurely.
Henceforth, we Republican Americans, will want to develop more interest in Africa and its people. I know the Democrats have gained an early lead with their African policy which was followed up with the visits of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. I am happy that a Republican President is finally here in my humble person. I want to assure you that we are equally your friends but, mark you, friendship between our two countries is strictly on American terms. In a uni-polar world there is no symbiotic relationship. When Washington sneezes we expect Abuja to catch cold in sympathy. And if you truly love us, you must love our dogs. Our enemies have always criticised what they term our carrot-and-stick approach but this should not be seen as a terror policy. You are either with us or against us. No half measures.
Mr. President, I can assure you that the US has come a long way in science and technology, a part of which we displayed during the last Gulf War. With our technology, you can only run but you can’t hide. We have the means to monitor our enemies and friends anywhere, even inside their bedrooms. Thus, my mission during this shuttle in the wild is to warn the crazy guys. Terrorists, beware! Dictators, watch it!!! Corrupt leaders, think twice. This is a wake-up call to everybody. The new Big Brother has an eye and the sophistication to locate, capture and bring any war criminal to justice under the auspices of the UN or NATO or none or all of the above. And let me warn post-developed, developed, developing, underdeveloped, underdeveloping and never-to-develop countries that any American soldier accused of war crime is immune to arrest and trial. You may wonder if there is no contradiction here. None whatsoever. America has the right to be the World’s Sheriff. Cowboy diplomacy? Who cares? It’s our God-given right. We are the supercop or who else has the capacity and the wherewithal with which to police the world? Only the Cowboys can. God bless America! The Cold War is over. The communists have been routed. Where is Lenin? Where is Stalin? Where is Karl Marx? Where is Che Guevara? Communism has become a dinosaur ideology and its followers are as dead as dodo. This is harvest time.
Yes, we have tamed the Dragon but we must not be complacent. The world is still not safe. A new wind of change is blowing. Our world, one of a decent bush and a thousand wild jungles, is filled with a monstrous variety of poisonous snakes and reptiles bent on foisting a new World Disorder on humankind but they will fail. While the dragon was easier to keep track of, this new wave of animality is difficult to pinpoint. We, therefore, call for Nigeria’s cooperation in taming the new dragons in terrorists’ fatigues. Do not open your door for the bad guys lest they bring collateral damage to your people.
Finally, Mr. President, I want to commend the tenacity and ‘resourcefulness’ of visa applicants in Nigeria. I was briefed this morning by the Consul-General that your people are so desperate to migrate to America, the beautiful, that if they were asked to provide, within 24 hours, a document signed by God, they would bring the damn thing within 24 minutes! That’s incredible but do you know how I responded? I said if God is that generous with His divine signature, He could as well give them the American visa. Mr. President, that’s food for thought. Contrary to your belief, God is not a Nigerian. He is an American but if you want Him, you need to make Nigeria great again and give hope to your people. You have everything that God could provide any nation to attain greatness. Thank you, and God bless.
Monday, May 18, 2009
1. Opilogue Live!
This is opilogue fresh from the oven like Mr Bigg's meat pie. It's an occasional treat. For the weekly feast turn to the pages of TELL or its e-version or simply visit www.tellng.com every week.
2. Opilogue Classics
This is Opilogue considered good enough to be regarded as an evergreen.
3. Oko mi Adio (Adio, my husband) series.
A socio-political drama featuring the adventures of Mr and Mrs Adio, the quarrelsome couple.
4. Opilogue Laughline
A blatantly comical piece whose functionality depends on the reader’s perception.
5. Not a Laughing Matter
Hard, solid commentaries on local, national and international events on issues. Hitting as it is, with gloves removed.
6. Opilogue Interactive
It’s VoxPopilogue culled from TELL Magazine, also available on www.tellng.com
“Life in the slum is an eternal race for survival. It is not for the gentle and the humble but for the hard-hearted and the arrogantly impatient”
The scene opens in an interrogation room of the Mumbai police station. Sergeant Srinivas and his superior, the police inspector, are hell-bent on extracting information from Jamal, the 18-year-old contestant in the Indian version of the popular "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" TV game show. Jamal has been coasting to victory and the 20 million rupees (one million dollars), winning jackpot, when he is arrested on suspicion of cheating. He is beaten almost to a pulp. "Tell me how you cheat!", barked the inspector. The boy stuck to his denial. "Get him up, tie him up!", he motioned to the bulky torture specialist. "If he doesn't confess, give him the electric treatment. Who the hell is he? How can he, an ordinary slum boy, get that far? Professors, doctors do not even get past the 16,000 rupees mark..."
Scene changes to the TV show, revealing Jamal in the hot seat as he battles with the anchor of the programme. A seemingly hard question is answered correctly and what follows? A dirty slap on Jamal's face as the scene changes to the torture chamber in the police station. The inspector cannot believe that somebody who grew up in the slum among "extortionists, rapists and bandits" can be displaying that kind of brilliance. "You don't have to be a genius," says Jamal, "to know all these things". So, how does Jamal Malik, "the man who knows all the answers," come about his "brilliance" on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?". This is the track on which the film, Slumdog Millionaire, the toast of the last Academy Award, runs from scene to scene.
It is natural to write off Jamal as a cheat or supernatural being on the game show. This is somebody who grew up in the slums, has no distinct formal education other than a very brief period of learning in the lower grades of the primary school before he dropped out into a life of vagrancy. How can such a “ne'er-do-well” become a "touchstone" of brilliance on national television? It looks impropable, virtually impossible, that such a person of low education and pedigree could make it so far but, if character is fate in the The Mayor of Casterbridge, a novel, in Jamal’s case in Slumdog Millionaire, experience is fate. Each question thrown at him is fortuitously connected with distinct memories of his life. Desperate to prove his innocence to the police interrogators, he takes the viewer down memory lane in the slums where he and his brother, Salim, grew up. He narrates his early growing-up years with his struggling mother who eventually got killed, thus making him an orphan.
It had to come to that. In the slum, the Darwinian concept of survival of the fittest holds sway. He talks about his encounters with various gangs, the constant police raids, the seeming inhumanity of man to man in the cut-throat race for survival. Each episode of his life becomes an instant key to unlocking an answer on the programme. For instance, when asked to name the most popular man in the country, he knew it to be Sanjay because he once had the photograph of the man picked from the slum. When asked to name the American President whose portrait is on the 100 dollar bill, he did not hesitate to mention Benjamin Franklin, the portrait he had once seen on the bill given by a foreign tourist (at the Taj Mahal) to his street-begging mate. And when the big question came on who the third of the Three Musketeers is, he just recalled one of those few days he spent in primary school which happened to be the time the teacher taught the class about the musketeers and went for broke after having exhausted all his lifelines. It was a bull's eye! A new, but unusual, millionaire is made!!!
As coincidental as these may be, the biggest question is, how did he get on the show in the first place? As fate would have it, Jamal was working in a call centre as a tea boy. He had just served tea to some customers when he chanced on an unmanned switchboard and elected to try his luck by placing a request to take part in the TV show. His aim was not to win because he knew he was not academically equipped enough to operate on that level but to appear on national television to impress Latika, the girl he had loved all his life and whom he described to his interrogators as "the most beautiful woman in the world" but whom the police inspector mockingly referred to as "the beauty in the slum."
Jamal's memories at recalling events in his life to prove his "brilliance" do not only go to prove his innocence but also offer a picturesque insight into poverty in India and how orphans and neglected children are left to suffer the vicissitudes of life without direction or guidance. They are taught by the Fagins and Madoffs of this world how to steal, swindle tourists and kill in order to survive. Such children fall easy prey to criminals and the criminally minded. A child who has been sleeping on an empty stomach in the open for days in rain and sunshine is a ready-made instrument in the devil's workshop. The vulnerability of such a child is depicted in the luring of Jamal, Salim, his brother, Latika and others into the den of kidnappers and human traffickers with a mere offer of food and drink and a promise of a better life outside the slum.
Jamal's is, no doubt, a life journey through the rough edges and through the proverbial valley of the shadow of death. Life in the slum is an eternal race for survival. It is not for the gentle and the humble but for the hard-hearted and the arrogantly impatient. There is a reason for this. A slum dweller is constantly on the move. When he is not pursuing something, something must be pursuing him. When the airport security guards are not pursuing the hapless inhabitants for encroaching on the airport territory in search of the elusive gem in the heap of rubbish, it is the police wielding batons in pursuit of petty thieves and vagabonds. Occasionally the barons and the godfathers send in their agents to capture or entice new recruits into the ever-expanding rings of illicit trades in drugs, sex and alcohol. Bootlegging is the order of the day.
Such is the vivid expose in the film. Mumbai, the setting, is like Lagos. It is a bundle of contradictions. Poverty and opulence live as next-door neighbours, to the chagrin of the humanist. But speaking metaphorically, Slumdog Millionaire is a beautiful bridge linking the reality of life in India with that of Western civilisation. The tragic effects of poverty in the developing world are vividly portrayed through the prism of Jamal's life. Viewers see real slums and slum dogs with nagging flies and irritating fleas, children eating literally on dumpsites and men and women answering the call of nature in open make-shift toilets. The train, a constant motif in Indian films, imposes its larger-than-life presence as a means of mass transit for the teeming poor and equally intimidating middle class. Though Indian films are noted for their magical realism, Slumdog Millionaire is a mixture of authentic Indian culture with a distinctly Western style of film-making, a marriage of two diametrically opposing cultures with just a little touch of fairy tale.
The film's director deliberately breaks away from the 'cliche' of science fiction and zombie thrillers to breathe fresh air to 'moviedom' and make such an unusual project as Slumdog Millionaire come as close to reality as possible. The TV show is very natural with the usual expectant crowd, the cool, yet nervous comportment of the contestant, his dilemma over the use of lifelines and the painstaking manner he explains how he got to know the answers even under the threat of death in the police torture chamber. Then the coincidences, the half-chances and the unusual streak of luck. An 18-year-old boy from the slum winning a whopping sum of 20 million rupees?!
The message is not lost on the viewer. DESTINY CAN NEVER BE CHANGED. Whatever station an individual is destined to reach in life, no amount of obstacles, trials and tribulations can stop him. Jamal, like Barack Obama, new President of the United States of America, was destined to be great and he grabbed the chance literally with both his hands and feet. And the lesson? Simple. Do not underrate any individual because of the circumstance of his birth or environment. A gem can be found anywhere, even in a heap of rubbish!
Kudos to Danny Boyle, the director of the two-hour film which recently won eight Oscars, for his cinematic exposition of life in the slums of India. Unfortunately, many Indians seem not happy with the hardcore exposition of poverty in the fastly developing country which is in the league of most technologically advanced countries of the world. What irritates them most is the title Slumdog Millionaire. Indians do not cherish the reference to "dog" in that context. To the average Indian, the dog, like a pig, is a dirty animal that lives and thrives on filth, especially in the slum. But they have reverence for the cow. It is a sacred animal that must be worshiped. Would they have preferred “Cowdung or Slumcow Millionaire”? Well, that will be much ado about title. Slumdog Millionaire simply means an (under) dog (contestant) from the slum who became a millionaire. Now, who wants to be a slumdog millionaire?
Slumdog Millionaire is a film adaptation of ‘Q & A’, a 2005 novel by Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat. Screenplay is by Simon Beaufoy, the Academy Award-winning British screenwriter. The two-hour film is currently showing in popular theatres in major cities of the world. The DVD was premiered on March 31 in the US, while the UK and France will take turns on June 1 and July 1, 2009, respectively.
*First published in TELL, April 6, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
“Women need plenty of akpu power to engage in steet demonstrations like the Amazons of Akure and lately of Ado Ekiti”
As usual, it was supposed to be just a hilarious talk show on fruits and herbs but the reactions have been more serious than anticipated. By the way, why are people so interested in things like figs? Or was it just a figment of their 'figmagination’? Since God, the Ultimate Herbalist was published (TELL, April 13, 2009), people have been bombarding the Opilogue desk with enquiries on the fruit. But why the 'figxation'? Well, it's better you hear from the horses' mouths in this edition of VoxPOPilogue:
I have just finished reading your outlined medication. Please, what are figs? I think I need them. Bubu (no address).
I'm not a doctor neither am I a herbalist. Just a writer. I deal in whatever I consider worthy of being in the public interest. So, I don't prescribe. I would rather direct people to the market of ideas. Seriously(?) speaking, I feared “Mama Akin,” I mean the “Iron Lady,” when she was in charge of DRUGS and I still do. I don't want her to use me as a guinea pig in her REBRANDED laboratory. No way!
Your message in God, the Ultimate Herbalist simply confirms God's words in Genesis 1:29 (And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food," NEW KING JAMES VERSION). I, however, object to the use of the word 'herbalist'. I prefer the use of 'creator'. Remi Osho, Ajebo, Ogun State.
The editor has just confirmed that you would be a good sub-editor for our Sunday School (TELL) magazine. Imagine having "God, the Ultimate Creator" as the headline for that opilogue!! All born-again Christians would have bought copies?! Meanwhile can you assist the woman below?
Which of the fruits in (Niagara) is equivalent to figs? Mrs H. (no address).
Over to you 'Pastor' Osho. I hope you won't say the fig tree is the same as igi opoto in the Yoruba Bible. I hope you won't say the fig leaf is the same as the one used to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve in the Bible? Again, I hope you won't say the fig fruit is the same as the one eaten by the first couple? I no know book o!
My friend, I just want to know, what are figs and what do they look like? Dan, Port Harcourt.
A fig is a soft pear-shaped fruit with sweet dark flesh and many seeds. You need some, too? Visit the nearest Garden of Eden. Thank God, Port Harcourt is a garden city; you don't have to travel too far!
When did you visit God's kitchen to know that He is a herbalist? You are lucky I'm not the angel guarding His gate. [Otherwise], you wouldn't have come back with those yeye video clips. John Iyagbaye, Lagos.
You need to be there. God is not only a good herbalist but a fantastic cook, too. He uses natural ingredients and condiments that synchronise and work perfectly with the human system. In His kitchen, you eat natural hens and cocks, not chickens that do not know their fathers and mothers because they were conceived through artificial insemination.
God, indeed, is the ultimate herbalist. Do you know that kolanut looks like the prostate? [Make man dey] begin dey munch go? Dr. Uche Ojinmah, Enugu.
If I say yes, then our friend, Dr. Sule Ahmed, also a medical doctor, may accuse me of encouraging a policy that will make gworo, a Northern beverage in solid form (whether kola nitida or kola acumilata), become very expensive and out of the reach of the common man because of the economic law of demand and supply. Gworo will be so scarce that men will be prostrating to get some to eat in order to keep their prostates healthy and alive to their responsibilities. But come to think of it, God's work is, indeed, awamaridi (beyond comprehension). He gave us instruments to use to 'multiply', yet He uses the same instruments (of fun, joy and multiplication) to ‘punish’ us as we grow old with afflictions not unconnected with the reproductive system. He 'spanks' women with breast cancer and 'executes' men with prostate cancer. Oftentimes, He 'deals' with women with cervical cancer and 'castrates' men with scrotal tumour. Y e e e paripa! Nobody can just fathom the depth of God's 'creative' ingenuity in having a pound of flesh back from His children whether anointed or massaged. Not even those who have surrendered all their lives to celibacy. Can you imagine! To man with limited knowledge, God is a living wonder of contradictions!! This is because “His ways are not our ways, His thoughts not our thoughts.”
I have heard a lot about you. Please what is the cause of epilepsy and how can it be cured? God bless you as you reply to this SMS. Anonymous.
I'm sure you have not heard the correct thing about me. I'm not a doctor. Neither am I “Dolly” (of the Drum magazine fame ) nor “Aunty Rebecca.” I'm just a restless writer with mood swings depending on the dictates of the Muse in him. I'm afraid I can't be of much help. Perhaps if you had supplied a name and address, I could have referred you to a naturalist. As for orthodox treatment, all roads lead to the hospital. Meanwhile, you may want to take the next available flight to cyberspace where everything you want to know about anything, and anything you want to know about everything is waiting for you. Try it.
I have just read "God, the Ultimate Herbalist." It's a great piece. Please, can I have the phone number of Dr. Gubilyn Ogunbenah? Thanks. Anonymous.
"Dr Gubilyn Ogunbenah" is the name of a character in that particular Opilogue. Any resemblance to a real person's name is just a mere coincidence.
Well done, for bringing to the knowledge of the vast majority of Opilogue readers who are either ignorant or indifferent to the essence of natural foods, fruits, roots and God's generosity to mankind. Ezekiel Ade, Akute, Ogun State.
Like Baba would say, I take serious exception to that.
No reader of Opilogue is ignorant. I hope this Akute man will also not like to be described as a contributor who is ignorant of the fact that he is actually living in "Ogun State in Lagos State." Yabis?
I guess you went to study catering during your vacation. However, just remember that eating gari, fufu and pounded yam daily is a shock absorber for us, considering the environment we live in. Tina Amadi, Lagos.
You are damn right. For instance, as a woman, you need plenty of akpu power to engage in street demonstrations like the Amazons of Akure and lately of Ado Ekiti. Men need to plaster their stomachs with kneaded yam flour (amala) early in the morning in order to have energy to confront stern-looking LASTMA officials, gun-toting policemen and lawless area boys on the road. In fact, we all need shock absorbers to cushion the effects of 49 years of misrule whether by the khaki men or their counterparts in agbada. But we also need natural supplements as configured for us by the almighty Baba God to withstand the jagbajantis and jankariwos being perpetrated by the political janjaweed that litter the entire landscape, making nonsense of our collective hope for a better tomorrow.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Have you heard the news that the Kenyan women have finally called off their strike?
Strike? What sort of strike was that?
Goodness me! So you didn't know that those women had been on sex strike for about two weeks?
Of what use was that? They said they wanted to force their men to settle the political rift between their President and the Prime Minister.
And they thought they could achieve that by denying their husbands their ‘woman’ rights?
They believed so. They said if all men were denied sex for a long time they would all come together to find a solution to the political problem in the land.
They must be very naive. Suppose their men turned to commercial sex workers who cannot afford to go on strike?
They were very clever about that. They simply coopted the prostitutes into the mass sex denial movement. Smart ladies!
Did they succeed in their objective?
I think the question you should ask is, did they carry out the strike at all? Interestingly they even called on the wife of the President to be part of the sex strike.
Did she take part?
Who could ask Her Excellency that kind of question? Do you remember what she did to the Daily Standard reporter who merely reported a story concerning her sometime ago? Who is that reporter to ask Mrs Kibaki if she denied the President sex? That would be an invitation to another Mike Tyson show in the newsroom! It's like Niagaran women asking all married females to go on indefinite sex strike until Baba Go Slow moves faster on the highway of development and you go to ask Turari, his wife, if she did her own beat of the strike. That will be asking for malam's trouble. Real trouble, I mean wholesale trouble inside Zuma Rock. It’s tantamount to peeping through the keyhole of the purdah which the Rock has become.
But why did the women go for sex as a weapon for fighting for peace and social justice?
It's not a new thing. Housewives use what they have to get what they want from their hubbies. They armtwist, legtwist and mouthtwist their men for money for aso ebi (uniform apparel), birthday gifts and holiday trips. When it comes to bedroom politics men are the weaker sex. I swear! Even the most powerful war commanders often meet their waterloo in the battle of the bedroom. Such is the tempting alure of sex that women easily use it to blackmail, intimidate and conquer men. For instance, in 2006, when the drug war in Colombia was raging like hell fire, wives and girlfriends of gang members also resolved to go on sex strike in what they called the "strike of the crossed legs" until their husbands and boyfriends gave up their guns to end the senseless war of attrition among the gangs. It was tough.
Did the men drop their weapons as a result of their women's strike?
It was like preaching to the deaf. The drug barons did not care a hoot about sex strike or any work-to-rule tactics in bed. These were people richer than, even, their country. They owned jets and secret ‘airports’ for freighting drugs to the US.
That reminds me of what happened recently. By the way, did you see the Ado women protesters after the Ayokah election?
Yes, I did. And what about them?
Didn't you see how they exposed their 'fan milk yogo'?
Hmmm... Is that all you saw?! Na wah for you. You mean you didn't see the anger and sorrow on their faces? You did not see the feeling of frustration in a system that has continued to fail them over the years? You didn't see their disappointment in the fact that one of their own had been used to pervert the course of justice in broad daylight? It was only their milk storage tanks your hungry, lustful eyes saw.
Yes, I saw their sagging morale crying for divine intervention and judicial enhancement. But come, why did they come out like that? Shouldn't they have worn bras like the women of Akure in 2007 or gone to visit Ms Ozolua for pre-protest counselling?
The reasons are clear. The protesting women of Akure were younger. They were more urbane. Then, they had husbands they still had to report back to after exposing what they (the husbands) 'bought' and prostrated for on their not-too-distant wedding days. The Ado women, on the other hand, were older and probably not accountable to any jealous men back at home except, probably, one of them who had what you can actually call young adult b...s (pronounced like FOOLS). The others exposed what nature poets ironically call old alabaster b....s (pronounced like SPREADS).
It's you alone who noticed the characteristics of what they exposed or did not expose. Others were more concerned with the symbolism of that premordial form of protest. But here you are salivating over what remains of the once vibrant morale of the victims of another rape of democracy in Ado.
They should thank their stars. Could they have done that in Lagos or Port Harcourt? Those hungry, sex starved city police would just have rounded them up for dinner.
Talking more seriously I think it's high time our women stopped using their "body parts" to form “barricades” and “bonfires” on the road whenever they are protesting. This is the modern era. It's ironic that today's women still believe that their boo-boos and hoo-hoos can speak louder than their mouths when they are oppressed.
But methinks that the women have a valid point in embarking on sex strike or naked street parade. They are trying to pass the message that violence is not sexy. Men should make love not war after elections
No wonder the police were also salivating on seeing them!
Is it desirable for women to go on sex strike or parade in the nude as a form of protest? Leave your comments here or send to email@example.com