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.