Thursday, May 20, 2010

Farewell, Umoru


“Some people came to play to the gallery. They said your death was a rude shock to them. … These were the same people who said you had died many times before your death”

Umoru! Umoru! Can you hear me? It's me, the "para psycho". Remember I promised to tell you everything that took place during your funeral. Are you there? Can you remember me? I'm Dr Oyewole, the para-psychologist who appeared to you in your dream while you were in Koma. I can tell you categorically that everything went well as far as your burial was concerned. You must be a devout Muslim, indeed, because your people gave you a first-class Islamic burial. Immediately your spirit departed your body I saw you as you flew on the wing of immortality. You passed through Saudi, then to Yemen, to Syria, to Lebanon and back to Asokoro where you stood near the pearly gate. Nobody saw you except me. You can trust! In the meantime a signal was dispatched from the seat of power to the imams and other Islamic clerics in your home state to prepare your final resting place.

Umoru, thank you gan an (very much) for asking me to carry out this assignment on your behalf or else I wouldn't have been able to see how really simple a Muslim burial could be. Peep down and see your grave! The length is made slightly longer than the length of your body and the width is between one and a half and two feet. Young macho men assisted in digging the grave. First, they dug to a depth of about two feet. Then they dug a hole within a hole. This inner hole, I learnt, is called "ya" and it is about a foot wide, the same length as your body’s. The depth of the "ya" is about a foot and a half or, as I was told, deep enough to contain any corpse when it was laid on its side, face turned eastwards in the direction of the sacred Kaaba in Mecca.

Your body was washed, shrouded and placed in a hammock-like bed, covered with the "kubba", a piece of cloth, on top of which was placed the national flag. You were then carried to the stadium by service chiefs where prayers were said by the Chief Imam who stood in the middle of your body as he prayed. I learnt if you were a female he would have moved close to your shoulders before praying. And no sooner had the prayers finished than your remains were carried shoulder high to the grave where they were interred in the hole-within-a-hole and pieces of broken pots used to cover it. Part of the soil dug out of the grave was mixed with water and the mud used to cover the broken pieces of pot while the remaining dry soil was used to cover the entire grave to a height of about one foot. The simplicity and symbolism of your burial sank into my brain and drew an anchor there.

But some people came to play to the gallery. They said your death was a rude shock to them. They can say that to the fishermen of Argungu. These were the same people who had earlier said you had died many times before your death. They are cowards who cannot call a spade a spade.

Umoru, I stand before you and your God today to say the truth and nothing but the truth. I'm not here to say your death was a surprise when many had already seen it coming.

For instance, the anticipation of your death led to the birth of the "doctrine of necessity" and the emergence of a "khalifa-in-waiting". But you can trust politicians. Even the most naive of them have two mouths and a "spare tongue" to run wild. I'll not join them to say you would have been the swiftest president the country had ever had (if death had not waylaid you in your track) when everybody knew and called you "Baba Goslow". Now that you have become "Baba Fullstop" they are not bold to say so. They are shell-shocked! Shell shock my foot! But it's not your making. As a Fulani, whether Fulani Birni Gida (Town Fulani) or Fulani Daji (Cow Fulani), you were supposed to be among the swiftest creatures in the savanah chasing after glory for the Fatherland but destiny can be wicked, unjust and unfair. One thing I know, you were not really cut out to suffer as you did. You were born into a family that lacked nothing. Your father was a politician, your elder brother was a politician, you were a politician, your nephew is a politician, your wife is a politician, your sons-in-law are politicians, every living and non-living thing in your household is a politician. In Niagara, politicians don't suffer because politics is a paying job. But how blessed can one be! Umoru, you were, indeed, blessed. You belonged to an aristocratic Fulani family where the bulk of political power in the country resides. O Nobility!

You had a liberal education, graduating with a B.Sc Chemistry (Education) and a master's in Analytical Chemistry though your chemistry failed you in politics. You forgot that in politics "X" is the unknown factor. Anything can happen. And it did happen. You were as fit as a fiddle when you were drafted to compete in the presidential primaries of your party in December 2006. By what looked like a made-in-Egbaland magical realism you polled 3,024 votes to beat Rolls Royce Okorochas who could manage only a total of 372 votes despite his fleet of goodwill. Do you remember what some people called your victory? Govrnment magic! Everybody was surprised that you, "Jude the Obscure", could emerge from nowhere to beat every aspirant hands down. Yes, in politics anything can happen, that's my understanding, Umoru. And that’s how you came to power!

Unfortunately, though your engine was willing, your chassis was too weak to carry the load of your presidency. But should anybody blame you? Sebi ( was it not that ) you were sitting down "jeje" in your "rugan Fulani" (farm house) when this Baba Iyaboh of a “militician” came to drag you into the battle field saying, "Umoru, o ya, fire!" "I say it's your turn, aim, fire!" Yes, you had the gun but you could neither hold it nor pull the trigger. It was a pity. In your conscious and unconscious absence the whole country was turned into a bazaar, a sort of all comers market and you, a hostage for cheap bargaining and crass opportunism. Now the die is cast. The market has ended. The doors of Aso Shopping Mall have closed. Turaih, your "uwargida" (senior wife), has gone home with her children. Nobody seemed to have seen Hauwah, your former "karamar kishiya" (junior wife), for a reason I do not understand. Is it true she was your wife for only five years? Is it true you left only one house as your physical legacy? Now, hold it. I can see Aminu Kano beckoning to you. ... Look to your right.... Yes. Go and meet him. Hold him. Hug him. Shake him. As it is done on earth, so it is in heaven. Farewell, Umoru. Don't eat tuwo. Don't eat sokura. Eat only what they eat in aljanah.


  1. As wonderful as ever. It was like watching a video clip in my head.

  2. May d soul of d faithful departed rest in perpetual peace. Good article we have here sir. Warm regards