Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ndigbo, We Don Win!

Igbo, kwenu!


Umunado, kwenu!




Igwe, I salute you. Elders of Umunado, I greet you all in the name of our ancestors. When the millipede pays homage, the ground responds by paving way for it. I bow as I pay obeisance to you all. A community without elders is like a king without a crown. I salute your leadership. I also want to recognise the presence of our younger ones, the boys and girls of Umunado clan. I do not want to be like the man in the proverb who despised the smallness of the needle and foolhardily stepped on it. The eggs of today are the chickens of tomorrow. You are our hopes. You are our aspirations. You are the leaders of tomorrow. I salute you all. We must all thank our chi for bringing us here safe and sound and for sparing our lives to witness this New Yam festival. You are all welcome. Nno.

Nkenna, the owner of words, I thank you for your inspiring speech. Indeed, this is a special New Yam festival and I want all of us to put our heads together to decide on what to do to move this Umunado, in particular, and Obodo Niagara, in general, forward. Today’s meeting, therefore, is not only for merry-making but for jaw-jawing. Umunado kwenu!

Eh! Eh!! Eh!!!

Have I spoken well?

Yeah! You are the true son of your father.

Igwe, I salute you again. The issue I want to discuss is that of the perennial marginalisation of the Igbo race. Right from the days of…

Point of order! Who are you? You have not told us your name.

Sorry, I’m Honourable Uzor Kalo-Kalo. As I was saying, right from the days the military came to power, the eastern part of the country has known neither peace nor progress. Over one million of our people were killed during the 1966 crisis and the subsequent civil war, and since the end of that war, all the successive military and civilian governments have paid little or no interest to the progress of Ndigbo. One could understand why the military did practically nothing. They were not accountable to anybody, but how about the civilian administrations? To cut a long story short, I want to suggest that Ndigbo must look for a credible, consensus presidential candidate for the year 2007 to cater for our collective interests.

Hear! Hear!! Hear!!!

I’m Senator Okechukwu Babandidi. I beg to disagree with what Hon. Kalo-Kalo has just said. There is nothing we can do as far as the presidency is concerned. The powers-that-be have zoned it to the retired generals. And as you are all well aware, the power mafia in this country does not and will not trust Igbo generals with power. They think we would embark on an expansionist revenge programme across the Niger once we get power.

Shrrrrup! How can you demean the Igbo race by that statement? Nobody is born to rule this Niagara. We all have equal stakes since we don’t have another country we can call our own. I know the ghost of B-Afra is still haunting the power brokers but that’s no reason why Ndigbo should be sentenced to perpetual serfdom in their fatherland. B-Afra has come and gone and a new lease of life is reigning in all the four corners of this country. Now, they should allow the status quo to remain if they no want katakata to burst for inside mammy wagon. It’s turn by turn and it’s now our turn.

Mba, mba. Be careful of what you say. Even among us there may be spies for the oppressors in the capital. So, watch your tongue.

No way. We are in a democracy. By the way, does democracy not mean make you talk your own, make I talk my own? Nobody fit halla me for that, o kay?

Igbo, kwenu! My own mission today is to alert the whole Igbo race that this man called Papa Iyaboh, or wetin dem dey call am sef, is not serving our interest. First of all, he cancelled Nought-Nine-Nought which used to be a symbol of our social status and replaced it with GSM which is owned by every Emeka and Uche, thereby reducing our influence in the comity of the nouveaux riches. Secondly, he banned the importation of okporoko, our staple delicacy, thereby reducing our revenue generation capacity. Thirdly, and worst of all, he appointed an amazon and daughter-of-the-soil as the boss of NAFDAC thereby endangering our means of livelihood.

Hold it! That’s very callous and selfish of you. That woman was almost killed by assassins during the last New Yam Festival and you do not have a word of sympathy for her; instead you are behaving like the Shylock in the tale who was more concerned with his ducats than the well being of his daughter who had just been reported missing.

Igwe, elders of Umunado, I have no regrets for opposing today’s man of power. He is our Enemy Number 1, ask our beloved Ikaymbar. Igbo, kwenu! Before I sit down, I want to share with you this joke my secretary told me before I left the capital for this festival. Here it goes. An airplane was about to crash with five passengers on board but with only four parachutes. The first passenger said, “I’m Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, one of the best footballers in the world. You can’t afford to lose me!” So, he took the first pack and jumped. The second passenger said, “I’m Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel laureate and a human rights activist. I still have a lot to contribute to the human race.” He took the second pack and jumped. The third passenger started by coughing: “Un-un-unhh! I’m Obi-sanjo, the anointed, cleverest and most caring President of Niagara. I have great responsibility to see that we all survive this impending crash. So, immediately I land, I’d send an extra parachute for the last passenger.” He then grabbed the pack next to him and jumped out of the plane. The fourth passenger, shivering, moved close to the fifth passenger, a 10-year-old Igbo school girl, and said, “My daughter, I’m Pope John Paul II. I’m old and don’t have long to live. See me shaking like Muhammad Ali. As a Pope with ecumenical regard for human life, I’ll sacrifice my life and let you have the last parachute.” The little girl turned to the Pope and said, “Don’t worry, Your Holiness, there’s a parachute for you. Niagara’s cleverest and ‘most caring’ president grabbed my school bag!”

Igbo, kwenu!


Umunado, kwenu!!

Ehh! We’ve won!!!!!

Ndigbo, We Don Win was first published in TELL on March 1, 2004.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Aborted Broadcast

“This new administration means business. There shall be no looting, no raping,
no sodomy, no gomorrah…”

Fellow Panambrans,
I, General Ige Adubi, Garrison Commander of the Wetin-You-Carry, WYC, Armed Forces, stationed off the coast of Niagara with oversight responsibility over the Bight of Biafra and the State of Panambra, hereby, on behalf of the Revolutionary Elements in the WYC Armed Forces, announce the immediate overthrow of the corrupt, inept, go-slow government of Ogbuefi He-Goat. This is not a coup d’etat, rather it is a mere change of government. Thus, the Panambra cabinet is hereby dissolved with immediate effect and automatic alacrity. The State Assembly is suspended forthwith. The government secretariat is hereby closed and all government and private offices shall also remain closed with immediate effect. The only offices that can open are tombo (palm wine) bars, pepper soup joints and mama-puts. All other public and private businesses shall remain under lock and key until further notice.

Fellow Panambrans, we have been forced to take this drastic action because, despite repeated warnings and threats, the executive governor has remained intransigent. He behaves true to his name but do we have to tell the aged he-goat that his present long beard is no more proof of sexual prowess? Ogbuefi He-Goat saw the truth but he was too stubborn to uphold the truth that he went into a covenant with our forefathers who bankrolled his election with prayers and juju. The godfathers, on his behalf also, visited the shrine of the Long Juju of Arochukwu to secure a clean sweep of the state by the demolition party but like the hunter’s dog, which is destined to get lost, he refused to listen to his master’s whistle. Hence our collective decision to stage this coup.

In fact, his sins are legion. The man would not eat and would not allow others to eat, even when they are hungry. Six weeks after coming to power, he is still as lean as a starved mosquito because he does not eat more than three times a day. Henceforth, all Panambrans must eat like vultures. The other sin, is his unwillingness to allow security men to drink their tombo while on duty. Henceforth, all policemen and security details must drink and enjoy themselves everyday and, to avoid hangover, they must remain perpetually drunk. Ogbuefi He-Goat thinks he is saving money for the government but it’s a lie! He is a spendthrift. He owes the World Bank over N3 billion and would not pay back even after being in power for more than five weeks! He would not even issue post-dated cheques, instead he was asking for our patience and understanding. Yes, the meat of the antelope tastes nice, but what will the people eat while the meat is cooking? He has no answer to that. The pity of it all is that he does not have an iota of respect for our forefathers, or godfathers or, even, our godmothers. He would want to have a hand in the picking of the members of the Elders’ Council for the entire Ndigbo without consulting the major shareholders and core-investors in the limited liability project. He must be a fool at 56 if he doesn’t know that he who pays the Nkpoti Dancers dictates the tune as well as the venue for their performance. He despised smallness by stepping on the godfather and we decided to sting like a bee to show him that it is only a foolish son who thinks he knows so much that he can teach his own father how to impregnate a woman.

Ogbuefi He-Goat is currently under protective custody, safe and sound because we don’t believe in further bloodshed. Armed robbers, ritual killers, Bakassi Boys and overzealous law enforcement officers have shed enough blood in the land and we don’t intend to shed an additional drop. So far, this coup, has been effected without bloodshed whatsoever. Not even a single shot, except a few well-intended slaps, was fired because we are a bunch of considerate and humane revolutionaries. Later tonight, the Supreme Commander and the Grand Patron of the Wetin-You-Carry Armed Forces (aka Egunje Armed Forces) will address the state and announce the new programme of action for the new millennium. Please, remain glued to your radio and TV sets.

Meanwhile, the Niger Bridge is hereby closed to human but not to vehicular traffic. For the avoidance of doubt, all vehicles shall have right of passage provided they are not driven by human beings and shall not convey human beings. All borders shall remain closed until further notice. Policemen are, however, authorised to relocate their checkpoints to intra-city roads where human traffic will be heavy. They should be more vigilant and polite as they demand and collect parti-KOLAS from motorists. There should be no molestation of any kind. Divisional Commanders are hereby instructed to report directly to the Supreme Headquarters to account for daily proceeds at the various checkpoints under their respective commands. This is a new era of accountability. Every command should, henceforth, account for the ammo issued out everyday and state what they kill with them. All monies should be accounted for as police auditors are hereby instructed to audit checkpoint accounts on a daily basis. There should be no more cheating. This new administration will not condone indiscipline. This new government will not tolerate undemocratic embezzlement. Neither will it condone any form of unauthorised corruption.

All 419 criminals are hereby ordered to proceed on voluntary exile for six months — and return upon their faithful “delivery” of dollars and pounds sterling. Drug barons should disappear with immediate effect into protective custody on moderate charges. Armed robbers must lie low and stop robbing people without police warrants. This new administration means business and you are all warned. There should be no looting, no raping, no sodomy, no gomorrah, no homo-sexualism of any kind. Anybody caught will be beaten to death. Be warned. This is a new dawn with a new regime. All army generals, naval commanders, airforce officers and scoutmasters are to report at the nearest police stations. Journalists who write nonsense about police will, henceforth, be tear-gassed. The following publications are hereby proscribed – Daily Truth, Transparency Journal, Corruption Weekly, Underworld Gazette and Human Rights Bullets.
Fellow Panambrans, let me assure you that everything is under control. All strategic locations are being manned by heavily armed kill-and-go men. A DAWN to DUSK curfew is hereby imposed. Nobody should go anywhere except to the police checkpoints where you can all contribute your widow’s mite to the cost of logistics in effecting this change in… Hold it! What’s that? Wait a minute. Did I hear gunshots? No, …sorry, fellow Panambrans, don’t panic. It’s just an accidental discharge. Eeehm… actually, we were just testing our new equipment for… eemm… Prize-Giving and… emm… Coup-Making Day. Sorry, I have got to go. We are aaaaall together!!!

The Aborted Broadcast first published in TELL August 4, 2003.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Our Sports and the Lotus-Eaters

‘Our administrators use our talents like oranges. They suck them dry and threw the empty husks into the dustbin of history without much ado’

It’s a g-o-a-l! Goal number one! What a magnificent goal from an impossible angle!!

Stop it. Are you mad? You’re reading a newspaper and suddenly you are shouting it’s a goal. What’s happening?

I have just read the news report that the President has ordered the Central Bank to make sure Jay Jay Okocha’s trapped $1 million in the Sarake Generale Bank be paid.

In fact, that’s more than a goal. It’s a miracle. Definitely, this will go a long way in boosting the morale of sportsmen and women in the country. From now on, our country will be hard to beat since we have presidential support.

For where? You think it is only presidential handshake and fire-brigade efforts to bale out a sinking boat that will bring laurels?

No, I mean our administrators will now get things right. If the President can do it, why not the sports administrators? Up Eagles! Up Falcons! Up Glass House!

You must be kidding yourself. How can you roll out the drums for a flash-in-the-pan presidential gesture? The problem with Niagara is that we don’t plan for the future; yet we want to win all competitions we take part in as if God, indeed, is a Niagaran.

What’s wrong with that? Without any planning, we won the maiden U-16 World Cup in China in 1985. We came second in 1987 in Canada only to miss it in 1989 in Scotland. But we won it again in 1993 in Japan. Yet, you say we don’t prepare for competitions.

You asked for this. Do you know why we performed excellently well in 1985 and 1987? It’s because we caught the rest of the world unawares. By 1989, they had learnt and perfected our ‘native’ technique. The Saudis started it when they brought an Under-16 team comprising ‘young’ footballers who sported serubawon (fearsome) whiskers as moustaches for the 1989 edition which they won. I can still remember how the commentator remarked that the Saudis were a remarkably unusual bunch of Under-16 lads who must have been shaving probably before they were born!

Don’t mind those racist commentators. Na bad belle.

I can appreciate their sense of humour, though a little on the hard side, but I can’t really blame them. They must have analysed critically, too, our own unnatural lucky run in the underage competitions. They must have discovered that most of our young tendrils in Under-16 and Under-17 categories often wither and expire, like drugs, barely five years after taking part in a major competition. They could have observed that some Under-17 lads invited to camp had been playing in the Division One league for about six years or more.

What’s the meaning of all this? Have you joined our detractors to lampoon our successes over the years?

Far from it. The point I am making is that because we don’t have a practical programme for the future, we resort to unorthodox and, some say, fraudulent means to excel. What kind of tainted ‘excellence’ is that?

But we won the 1996 Olympics football event in Atlanta with purposeful planning and rugged determination. How about that?

Rugged determination, yes. Purposeful planning? No. Our success was a freak of nature. For the entire Olympiad, we didn’t plan for anything. The medals were just falling on our laps like overripe mangoes in the weightlifting category. If we planned for it, we ought to have performed better in Sydney, Australia, in 2000 but what happened? See how our sports administrators treated Gloria Alozie, the sprint angel. Her coach, confidant and friend died in a road accident and the administrators did not care a hoot!

Is that why she turned her back on the country?

Do you really blame her? Our administrators use our talents like oranges. They suck them dry and throw the empty husks into the dustbin of history without much ado. Now, they want Obafemi Martins of Inter Milan but that one is too smart for them. He must have asked himself: Where is Joseph Dosu, the goalkeeper of the victorious Atlanta team? Where is Emmanuel Amuneke of the 1994 Nations Cup fame? Where are the stars of yesteryear?

My friend, you are beginning to sound too pessimistic like Ade Ojeikere, the New Age sports writer and commentator. Can’t you see some silver lining in the clouds?

For where! Critics like Ojeikere are being patriotic. They know how football and other sports are being run in other lands, and they want their own ‘native’ football and sports administrators to do likewise. But they are labelled rebels. Well, they are rebels but with a cause. For instance, how can we ever play good football if our playing turfs are better suited for beach volleyball? How can we perform well when we train on ‘corrugated iron fields’ only to confront the opponents on lush-green turfs? How can we perform well when we don’t play friendlies to know our strength and weaknesses?

But that reminds me. I enjoyed the Super Falcons’ last match. They dazed the Mandela girls and, as usual, the South Africans could not shout Amandla! Our girls were super!

You can say that to the marines in Apapa. The way they played is nothing to write home about. If I say anything now you’d say I’m being unpatriotic but I would rather refer you to what another commentator said during the last Women’s World Cup Championship in USA. After watching our girls in the previous matches, he looked at their chances against Sweden and remarked in a plaintive tone — the Falcons “are talented and aggressive. The only thing lacking is that they don’t use their brain.” Indeed, if they had used their brain in that match against South Africa, on March 30, they would have scored not less than six goals but they were just running aimlessly all over the place like a robot without its brain box.

No matter what you say, me, I love them. I like the way they play, especially the way they shake their ikebes (backsides) and chest the ball. And, my goodness, see how they take bicycle kicks in the full glare of the camera! So acrobatic and so photogenic!!

You should be tried for girl-abuse, and the cameramen for invasion of privacy.

Whaat! Why? Everybody has his own reason for watching the team. As for me, I pay to watch the girls caress the ball and blow hot kisses when the game reaches a sweaty climax with a spectacular goal! I don’t care what you think or say.

But I care what the lotus-eaters and hedonists like you do to our sports administration. Period.

Our Sports and the Lotus-Eaters was first published in TELL, May 10, 2004.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

God, Who Is Your Own Father?

Dear God,

How are you? I hope you are doing fine. I am a 12-year-old pupil of Descarte Methodological Scepticism High School, Abuja. Our teacher said we could write you a letter through this address. God, I love you and I love reading your book, the Holy Bible — especially during Sunday School. God, I want to ask you some questions and I hope you will not be angry with me.

God, are you a man or a woman? I asked our teacher but what he told me is that you are sexless. I did not understand what he meant by that. So, I asked further. He said, at best, God is of the masculine gender. I was so confused that I asked the pastor what being sexless means and he said I was too young to know what sex or sexless is. I said it is God's sex I wanted to know. He shouted at me as if he had just been bitten by a snake. I said, "Okay pastor, is it true that God is of the masculine gender?" The pastor said I was too young again to bother about any masculine or feminine gender when it comes to matters dealing with God. He said I should just address God as I address my own father at home. God, is that okay? I am Igbo. Can I call you nna? But something tells me you are a man because if you are not a man, Jesus will not be calling you his father. But, God nobody has ever answered this my question: “Who is God's own father?” Jesus has a father. Emeka has a father. Ada has a father. Even our pastor has a father, as old as he is. God, who is your own father? And where were you born? Are you an American or a European like the pope who died? Or are you a Niagaran as football fans say when Niagara wins an important match?

If you answer my questions, my father will be very proud of me for talking directly to you and may allow me to become a pastor in heaven. By the way, God, is there vacancy for more pastors in heaven because pastors are so many in my country that they are jobless? But God, there is another thing I want to discuss with you. Our Sunday School teacher taught us during the last Xmas that Mary is the mother of Jesus and the name of his father is Joseph. God, is your name Joseph? I will be glad to know if you are the same Joseph in the Bible. Or do you also bear two names like us on earth so that when next I write I can address you properly as Mr. Joseph God. Am I right? Or you hold a title like igwe or eze? God, I cannot wait to see your reply.

There is something else the Sunday School teacher taught us that I am yet to understand. He said once upon a time, you created heaven and earth. You also created a garden of Eden. Then you created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, and you commanded them to live together as husband and wife. Soon, said our Sunday School teacher, Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. He said that is how human beings came into existence but he never told us who Cain and Abel married to produce their own children. God, whose daughters did they marry? I asked my father the other day but, instead of saying he did not know the answer, he gave me a knock on the head and asked me to kneel down, raise up my hands and close my eyes. God, do you punish your own son, I mean Jesus, if he asks you a question you cannot answer? God, do not say I am worrying you with questions. It is just that this is an opportunity to ask all the questions that have been agitating my mind since I was in the primary school. In the Sunday School story, we were also told that Eve gave Adam apple to eat and they were both punished for what they did. But God, is it an offence to eat fruit, the most natural source of Vitamin C? People buy apple to eat on the roads and highways and nobody is punished or accused of eating any 'forbidden fruit'. Teacher said the only person ever punished after Adam and Eve, so far, for eating apple is our former head of state. He never told us whether it was another forbidden fruit that he ate or not. God, can you tell me in confidence what actually killed this man? Have you seen him in heaven since he left us in 1998? Is he still wearing goggles and refusing to smile or talk to anybody?

Our pastor said many Niagaran children are hungry because the money to buy rice, Indomie, spaghetti, Mr. Biggs and Tantalizer for them has been stolen by our leaders. Is it true,God? If it is true, it is not only in Niagara. In the whole of Africa, children are dying because of the greed, selfishness and wickedness of our leaders. God, I attach the photograph of an African child like me who cannot get water to drink but has to drink the urine of camel to quench his thirst. It is this same camel's urine that he uses to bathe, maybe once in a month. God, can you hear me? What are you doing about the plight of children? Are you leaving us in the hands of wicked adults like my father who punishes me when he cannot answer my question or the Sunday School teacher and the pastor who cannot answer questions about the oddities in the world? God, I know I must have offended you for raising these my questions but don't do like those men I have just mentioned. As it is in the Lord's prayer, God, forgive me if I have sinned because I am just a little rascal.

Nna, ke emesia (father, bye for now).


God, Who Is Your Own Father? was first published in TELL on August 28, 2006.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Baba Na Boy?

‘What creativity has put together, let no ignoramus put asunder’

This week, VoxPOPilogue goes into the archives to dust up those things that have already been warehoused for future reference. Some were not used at the time they came because they were anonymous. Some were dropped for lack of space, while others were reserved for special occasions like this. Warning: the standing rule against anonymous text messages still stands.

Opilogue has the prerogative to publish reactions now or later or never at all. Now, have a view of the good, the bad and the ugly. As usual, for every reaction there's a counter-reaction.

Re: Woman, Show Me Your Birth Certificate, (TELL, March 30, 2009), I don't believe in astrology as such but I could identify with some of the qualities listed in that Opilogue. I'm an Arien and would like to know what Zodiac personality will make the ideal mate or partner for me. (Anonymous).

Sorry, I don't know who you are. Are you a man or woman or she-man or he-woman or transsexual or heterosexual or homosexual? Who are you gan? Can you write a doctor asking him what you can do to have children without disclosing your sex? I beg...

I just hope someone will not beat you up one day over Opilogue. Imasunu Innocent, Abuja.

That will be in the true spirit of democracy, if it happens. But in a military dictatorship, that 'someone' may employ something more lethal than the fist of fury. The harder you knock on the establishment in a despotic dispensation, the nearer you are to harm's way. Talk of occupational hazard! But in a democracy, at least the 'someone' will have to follow the rule of law and due process, a la Baba Goslow, by swearing to an affidavit of intent to assault and obtaining a warrant for same from a magistrate before beating me up. It is like telling your boss now that you won’t be able to come to work next week because you intend to be down with malaria.

I think one of your talents is in stand-up comedy where I know you'll also excel. Jimmy, Calabar.

No thanks, Jimmy Carter or is it Jimmy Calabar? I think I prefer "sit-down satire" because of backache. Aboniki, as you know, is becoming more expensive nowadays because of, guess what, the economic meltdown. Can't afford a bottle of balm per week.

May you and your fold be largely increased. Rev. Uwadiale Amoya, Edo State.

Since this prayer landed on Opilogue table, I have been trying to say ‘Amen’ but Amen has continued to get stuck in my throat like bonga fish bone. Perhaps Rev. Amoya should be kind enough to remember that one man's comedy is another man's tragedy. Or to put it more succintly, a la the ngbati ngbati people, what is sauce for the aparo bird is, indeed, poison for the (subsistence) farmer.

I enjoy reading Opilogue. You are a man of many letters. Kudos. Nwachi Ogbonna, Afikpo, Ebonyi State.

Man of letters, indeed! Well, you may be right. After all, my byline contains 12 letters (six consonants, six vowels). Who says I am not a man of letters! Or who is not a man or woman of letters? Et tu (Brute) Ogbonnae!

You must get The Nation of today (July 13, 2008) and read Eze Aremu Goes Back to School. Are you sure you did not write it? K. Adebayo (no address).

I'm not Tatalo Aremu, the musician. Neither am I a pipe smoker as the carricature in the column depicts. The man who calls himself Tatalo Aremu in the newspaper looks robust and well-fed. I'm not. I'm still a struggling and scavenging creature in God's own wasteland. So, I couldn't have been the one who followed Eze Aremu to school. That would be suicidal because if student Aremu should get angry on his way to school, no bullet-proof vest in this world could withstand his automatic fusillades of expletives.

I'm appealing to those who kidnapped (Joseph) Yobo's brother in the Naija Delta to release him. Please assist the NFA (NFF now) to secure the release. Bala Mohd, Jos.

Bala what? Could that translate to Bala Mohammed? What a name! By the way, did you shorten Mohammed to Mohd so that you yourself would not be kidnapped? Please, you can behead Bala, your first name, if you like but don't you dare murder Mohammed, your father's name. Don't do like the overzealous latter-day Christians who have no respect for their family names because some Pharisee pastors say their ancestral names are fetish. Fetish my foot!

Who taught you the art of marrying fiction with reality? S. Oyiborhoroq (no address).

It is the chief registrar, Ikoyi Marriage Registry, Lagos. He says what creativity has put together (poetic licence?) let no ignoramus put asunder.

I salute your literary sagacity, journalistic expertise, verbal finesse, political ingenuity and 'opilogual' evangelism. You have converted me to the TELL agora, the People's Parliament. I'm now addicted to TELL weekly. Rev. Father U. S. Mbonu, Orlu.

Sorry, padre, for taking so long to respond to this “Karol Wojtylan” evocation. In fact, I had to contact the Holy See for help. At a point, I was directed to the catacomb in St. Peter’s Basilica to commune with the spirit of late Pope John Paul II and I was told the Holy Father could only assist me if I could speak to his spirit in French or Filipino or Polish or German or Portuguese or Swahili, all the languages he was fluent in, but not in English, which I understand he understood very much also. I was disarmed. I said, How come this Baba Pope don catch me like this? I could not talk even in French, yet Niagara is surrounded by Francophone countries! Neither could I speak Swahili, the new African lingua franca. Lest I forget... You must be having a good time on the pulpit with your free-flowing, evocative prose. Just as you are addicted to TELL, I pray that the flock is equally addicted to the shepherd's homilies on Sundays. Dominus vobiscum... Ka chi fuo nu.

Kudos for your write-up in TELL (of June 9, 2008). Keep it up, boy. (Anonymous).

Baba na boy? Na wah o! Well, it's possible. If a hunter travels far and deep enough into the jungle, he may encounter squirrels with hunchbacks! After all, if ‘Mama, na boy?’ why not papa, who is of the same gender (as the boy)? Is MTN listening? The country is ripe for yet another yellow revolution, sorry, I mean MTN advert.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Magistrate No Get Eye for Back

“Yes! Come over here. Are you the driver?”

“No, but I am a witness to what happened from the beginning to the end.”

“So what happened?”

“Actually the driver was driving his vehicle jeje when…”

“When what? OC, what do you think you are doing?”

“I’m trying to interrogate this man over what happened.”

“You mean here in Erimo?”

“No, Erinjesha.”

“Was it incidented here or there?”

“Well, I think it does not matter since both Erinjesha and Erimo are within the same zone.”

“Okay, but I’d want a written statement instead of this oral interview.”

“You hear? Oga say make you write am for statement.”

“No problem. Can I have a sheet of paper?”

“You have to pay for it since headquarters has not given us a new supply. What you see on the table over there was bought with our own money.”

“I’ll pay.”

“Okay. Here you go. You can now start.”

“It was one of those freak accidents. The driver was going at the speed of 60 kilometres per hour through the sleepy, quiet, seemingly deserted town at about 6.55 pm on that terrible day, a day when the devil was criminally thirsty. Just from no where a little girl dashed across the road. The driver pressed hard on the brakes and at the same time swerved to avoid hitting the little girl. It was a reflex action that would prove very decisive later. The girl hit the side mirror and was flung back on impact…”

“Let me see what you have written so far. Hmmm… Okay. So what happened immediately?”

“Within seconds the seemingly desolate town was filled up with people from only-God-knows-where. Old men, middle-aged women, students, farmers, genuine sympathisers, fake Samaritans, opportunistic onlookers, selfless helpers and do-gooders all trooped out to lend a hand or mouth to the unfolding ‘drama’. Soon some were spoiling for ‘action’ but what saved the driver and, perhaps, his passengers was the consensus that it was no fault of theirs. Still arguments raged. Passion rose. Emotion reigned supreme while reason took the back door. An understandable Babel of voices almost drowned the driver and the occupants of the car…”

“So what follows? Enough of this grammar!”

“Meanwhile some good Samaritans had lifted the accident victim on a bike and rushed her to a nearby clinic. They were quickly referred to the state University Teaching Hospital where all hands were literally on deck. Medical students hovered on the accident victim propounding different kinds of medical theories. One said it was obvious the little girl had brain damage. “How do you know that?”, queried another. A concerned relation wanted to know if he meant brain injury or brain damage. He said he would need an X-ray to determine that. His fellow student was scandalised. “You mean brain scan?” As we soon found out both were correct. Brain scan is it. But since the hospital did not have the machine an X-ray was their best bet…”

“Let me see… So what eventually happened?”

“At the end of the day the team of doctors and consultants saddled with the task of rescuing the girl concluded that she needed to have a Citi-Scan fast. Stalemate. The teaching hospital had none! How about another teaching hospital complex nearby? An SOS call was put through. The Citi-scan machine there was not functioning. Another stalemate. Where would they go from here? The last resort was yet another University Teaching Hospital at “Six Roundabouts”, Oluyole City. An ambulance was mobilised for the immediate transportation of the girl who had been in coma since the accident occurred. Each second mattered. At the hospital, the Citi-Scan would only be done if urgent deposit was made. All the relations and sympathisers rallied round to make money available. It was only then that she was rushed to the theatre around 10 pm where doctors battled to drain accumulated fluids from her brain. She did not leave the surgical theatre until 4 am the following day. She spent 24 hours in the intensive care unit, ICU, before she was eventually transferred to the West West Ward of the Pedeatrics Unit. Still the parents were worried. Mosunmade, their daughter, had not come to. Her open eyes could discern anything. Her ears could not catch any sound waves. She could not do anything except breathing. Food had to be passed into her system through an ingenious ‘umbilical cord’…”

“Will this your statement not be too long?”

“But you asked for it. If you want the truth, the truth and nothing but the truth you have to bear with me.”

“Okay, go on. That’s how you people rope yourselves in with grammar. You better start to round up.”

“On the 14th day a miracle happened. Mosunmade suddenly stirred and tried to remove the “tube of life” passed through her nose. She was asked what she thought she was doing. There was no response. Then she tried to remove the catheter. The father winked to the mother. Before the end of the day she had also tried to remove the medical “turban” on her head. On the 15th day she made gesticulations she wanted to ease herself. The following day she regained full consciousness as she recognised “Baba Olomi”, apparently somebody who looked like the man selling “pure water” in their backyard back in the village. Mosunmade finally left the hospital exactly 24 days after admission… Allahu akbar!”

“I think that should be all for now, except you really want to put yourself on the gallows.”

“I do have some comments as footnote. It’s a shame that our hospitals do not have the relevant equipment with which to work. Imagine if the third hospital did not have a Citi-Scan machine like the first teaching complexes, what would have happened to Monsumade? The two teaching hospitals closest to the point of accident were not in the position to do anything other than give first aid! Should anybody blame those who fly abroad to treat even common ailments like malaria while the masses including little Monsumade depend only on Mother Luck to survive?!”.

“You are accusing the government, abi? We shall meet in court. Magistrate no kuku get eye for back.”

“Let’s just thank God.”

This is an opilogue version of a real life experience. Only the characters’ names have been changed.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sermon on the Mountain

“I have a dream that one day, on the sand dunes of the Caliphate, the sons of
the dongaris and the sons of former sultans will be able to sit down and eat
tuwo together…”

I am Martin Dauda Turaki Jnr, and I am happy to be with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration of our collective resolve to fight residual military dictatorship in our democracy. For more than 50 years, our forefathers fought the colonial masters to secure our political freedom. But 46 years later, the Niagaran is still in bondage. Forty-six years later, the Niagaran is still crippled by the manacles of dictatorship and self-righteousness. Forty-six years later, the Niagaran lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a mighty ocean of opulence. Forty-six years later, the Niagaran is still languished in the corners of an intolerant primitive society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we have come here today on this hallowed ground of Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, to dramatise our opposition to a shameful political situation.

In a sense, we have come to the nation's commercial capital to cash a cheque. And lest I forget, when the neo-architects of our republic wrote the captivating words of the 1999 Constitution and the Declaration of Independence from Military Usurpers, they were signing a promisory note of which every Niagaran was to become heir. This note was a promise that all Niagarans, yes, men as well as women, would be guaranteed the "unalienable rights" of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". It is obvious today that Niagara has defaulted on this promisory note, in so far as the talakawa are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, Niagara has given the common man a dud cheque which has bounced back, like a rubber ball, marked "re-present, insufficient funds". But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are no sufficient funds in the central bank of opprtunity of this great country. But let me assure you that we are going to cash this cheque, a cheque that will give us, upon demand, the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Fellow Action-men and Congress-women, we have also come to this hallowed spot that used to be the racecourse for the colonial masters to remind the powers that be of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to waffle or to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to swallow the valium of gradualism. The youths and the generality of our people are becoming restive. Now is is the time to make real the promised dividends of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of civilian dictatorship to the sunlit path of participatory democracy. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. Let me warn that it would be fatal for the nation to everlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering heat of a growing revolution will not pass until there is an invigorating sunshine of freedom and equality. Take note that 2007 is not an end in itself but just another beginning. And those who hope that the Niagaran needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening when the nation returns to monkey business as usual...

Congress-men and women! I am not unaware of the fact that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you came from the narrow cells of emotional jail because you refused to succumb to one man's inordinate ambition. And some of you have come from where your quest for political freedom and economic independence left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality and the barkings of EFCC. Do not worry. Children of God should fear no foe. Yes, you have been victims of "creative persecution" but you should continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Gombe, go back to Aba, go back to Sapele, go back to Yola, go back to Yenagoa, go back to the slums and ghettos of our cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed, insha Allah!

My people, let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I promise you that with this broom in my hand, we shall sweep away political intolerance, moral deliquency, religious bigotry, social injustice, abuse of power and unbriddled contempt for the rule of law by those who are supposed to be the custodians of the law!

Action-men and women! I stand before you today to give hope where there is none, to give courage where everybody else has turned a coward and to put my life on the line in the absence of true, genuine "heroes". Some of you may call me the reluctant rebel or a rabble rouser with a death wish but these are times that call for self-sacrifice and, if need be, martyrdom. I have a dream today! I have a dream that our tomorrow will be better than our today. Yes, I have a dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of our constitutional provision, to wit, that all men are created equal, and that nobody, no matter how powerful, is above the law. I have a dream that one day, on the sand dunes of the Caliphate, the sons of former dongaris and the sons of former sultans will be able to sit down and eat tuwo together from the same bowl at the table of equality. I have a dream that one day, even the Niger Delta, a region sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. Yes, I have a dream... that my four wives and their little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the character of their husband and father but by the content of their own character.

I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, down in Anambra, with its vicious anarchists always on the prowl, with its godfather having his lips dripping with the words of "imposition", "rigging", "impeachment" and "nullification"...one day, right there in Anambra, the rampaging Bakassi boys and Bakassi girls will be able to hug and join hands with the true fighters of democracy and jointly say: Free at last! Free at last!!

I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, every valley shall be exalted, and the Obudu hills in Cross River State as well as the Alantika mountains of Adamawa State and the Jos Plateau in Plateau State shall be made low, the rough roads plain, and the crooked places straight...

This is our hope, and this is the faith I go back to Abuja with.

With this faith, we will be able to chip out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the discordant tunes of our anthems, old and new, into a beautiful symphony of nationhood. With this faith, we wil be able to work together, pray together, struggle together, go to jail together and stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And that will be the day...the day when all of us will be able to sing with new meaning that... though tribe and tongue may differ/In brotherhood we stand.

Sermon on the Mountain is an adaptation of the famous "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr, late civil rights leader, in Jim Crow America, August 28, 1963.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Crucifixion of the Faithful 2

Photo credit: blirk.net

"As I was saying, a church knows no fury like a raped victim scorned. The Church and the State almost engaged in hand to hand combat over the small girl's misfortune and the unjust treatment she got from the church. What really erked the people was the seeming exoneration of the rapist. To the church the man's crime is not as serious as committing abortion. Hence the hefty punishment doled out to the girl's mother and the doctor."

"How did the state react to this seeming injustice?"

"The Brazilian president, I was told, was not happy about the church's stand. Hear what he said: "As a Christian and a Catholic I deeply regret that a bishop of the Catholic Church has such a conservative attitude". He believed the doctors were more right than the church in saving the girl's life. No, insisted the archbishop, "God's law", he said, "is above any human law. So when a human law is contrary to God's law, this human law has no value."

"Is the law not supposed to protect the oppressed against the oppressor?"

"That's a germane question. Their minister of health was equally disappointed. Said he: "Two things strike me, the assault on the girl and the position of the bishop which is truly lamentable". Indeed it is a matter of regret. One of the doctors involved in the abortion could not hide his disappointment. Hear him: "The people want a church full of forgiveness, love, tolerance and mercy."

"Well said. The church lately has become a sanctuary for the overzealous, the legalistic, the surreal and the bizarre. Officials hold on rigidly to dogmas that have seen better days and already discarded in the consciousness of the liberal minded. Needless reemphasising the fact that both the church and the mosque have become havens of obsolete dogmas, medieval intolerance and stone age abuse of the rights of the congregation all in the name of God. In fact one is at a loss that the Catholic Church which tactically and pragmatically tackled the issue of gay priests among its flock, by conceding their right to belong to the clergy provided they adhere strictly to their oath of celibacy, could be a party to the abridgement of the fundamental human rights of individuals to seek redress and justice. Is the church not supposed to be a refuge for those in need of salvation? Where is the Rock of Ages we are promised will "cleft" for us in the time of adversity? The Catholic Church in Brazil, nay the world, has a serious problem over its premordial, rigid dogmas that daily call for a touch of reality in the face of continuous mass exodus of the congregation to where not only the spirit is catered for but also the body. Hear what one of the doctors involved in the life saving abortion saga had to say, "I will keep going to mass regardless of the Archbishop's (excommunication) order. The people want a church full of forgiveness, love and mercy" and, lest he forgot, tolerance."

"Yes, tolerance is the key word. Our world is literally out of joints because of intolerance. For instance, the Anglican Church would not tolerate a Gene Robinson to be consecrated a bishop in the United States because he is gay. Yet nobody had control over the way God created him or her. We are all but mere pencils in the hands of the creator. He uses us to write whatever scripts He deems fit for His divine soap opera. Who are we then to deny others the right to live as God has created them. Are we trying to tamper with destiny or trying to rewrite the da vinci code of every individual to suit their religious excellencies?"

"I wonder! Every day the clery teaches the congregation the virtues of being tolerant as individuals and as a nation but it finds it difficult to tolerate and forgive. For writing "The Satanic Verses" Salman Rushdie must be rushed to death via a fatwa. For publishing a cartoon about Prophet Mohammed the editor of Jyllands-Posten in Denmark must die. And for beautifying her writeup with a seemingly harmless religious analogy our own Isioma Daniel must kiss the dust. I believe that religion should wear a divinely human face not Gorgon Medusa's."

"That's true.

If care is not taken, at the rate the church and mosque are creating a hostile
environment for the congregation it may start breeding new protestant
Of course, it's no longer news that Europe is already brimming with those the faithful would readily describe as "Islamic Dissidents". These are educated, well enlightened Muslims who abhor the excesses of Islamic fundamentalists whose credo is “two eyes for an eye.”

"Not even an eye for an eye?"

"Don’t mind them. The world is changing. Both Muslim and Christian leaders should wake up to their responsibility of ensuring harmony in the world. The days of swallowing every bitter pill from the pulpit are gone. The congregation is now wiser and asking questions and demanding love and tolerance. "

"Yes, the tyranny of the clergy must stop."

Photo credit: virtualtourist.com

This is the second part of the Opilogue Crucifixion of the Faithful, which first appeared in edition of No 22 of TELL. You may want to check for the first part.