Monday, September 27, 2010

*Ali Baba in the Eyes of Baba Ali


"Ali Baba and his tribe are another good example that democracy is working"

This man is well known to me. He is the greatest comedian of our time. But I don’t know why he should ask me to give an after-dinner speech on the occasion of his book launch. Or am I being asked to pay back the cost of the plate of rice I have just eaten?

Well, it is with deepest reservation that I am saying what I am about to say. First is to say that nearly all the things that this naughty boy may say in his book may not be the truth. I have known him for many years in and outside Aso Rock. But who cares? This young man has made so much money from picking on people for a living, for only-God-knows-how-long, that I’m beginning to doubt his true talent. Nobody, no matter how mighty or low, has escaped his deodorised scathing remarks and diabolical sense of humour at social events. So, after inflicting his reign of comic terror, what sane thing should he have done? Apologise to every single person he has maligned? So I thought, too. But what did he do, instead? This son-of-a-bitch went ahead to put the same things in a book form. What the hell does he think he is doing? After yabbing the hoi polloi and maligning the nouveaux riches, he has the guts to put the jokes down for generations yet unborn to peruse. Talk of everlasting rip-off?!

By the way, where is this Ali Baba of a man? Hunnn… Uhunn… I can see him over there. He is even wearing a tie. Who dash monkey banana? Now, let me yab him, too. Ali, how on earth could you be charging people for yabbing them and enjoying it at the same time? We pay you to add pep to normal events that could easily do without your services, yet you come there only to yab us. Ladies and gentlemen, I think there should be a law tucked somewhere in our statute book, that forbids this obnoxious practice of living off people who pay you to enjoy yourself. If there isn’t, this should be a good excuse to have one. I mean, why should you be paid to entertain only for you to come to yab people who paid you and, during the buffet, you join the guests, some of whom you have picked on, to queue for food? You even drink our wine, the choicest of them all! It’s not only this Ali Baba of a man o! They are many in town. Some have long moustaches like those of igangan yam. The bigger their mouths, the louder they yab. And they have funny, if not exotic names that go with their trade. You have names like Basketmouth, Gandoki, AY, Tee A, Teju Babyface and I Go Die. But that one never die since he begin dey yab people. Na so so shakara! Do you know that the women, too, have joined them? Some are what my children call lepa. Some are orobo. You will hear names like Princess Bakassi, Yellow Pawpaw and Lepacious Orobo. Such effrontery!

But Ali Baba and his tribe are another good example that democracy is working. In a dictatorship, like during my first coming. Ali could only have imagined the hardship he would have gone through hawking his humour in the precincts of absolute power. I doubt if he could ever survive the dumb wits of many a brass hat who shot their way to the throne. Why do I say this, you might ask. I will show you why. There is no name that I have not been called by those who do not like me. They called me all sorts of names but they have cleverly avoided open confrontation with me. Only Ali Baba has dared to say it to my face that I, Aremu Olusanjo Obasegun, is stingy. Did he stop there? Of course not. That will not make him the Ali Baba that we all know. Like a brave warrior that he claims to be (even if he is a fake one), he took the fight straight into the inner recesses of the chamber of the Senate Committee (on budget). He told them that once money enters my hand, it sticks and nothing can get it out. Did he stop there? For where? He went on to suggest my appointment as the chairman of Aradite Bank. But I think he goofed there. He should have suggested GlueRanty Bank. For whatever reason, I can still manage the caustic joke. The one I cannot get over, although not true, is when he said that some top members of my former cabinet were planning to erect a statue of me somewhere in the federal capital and that they came to discuss it with me and possibly get my approval. This alawada of a man said I asked how much the project would cost and when they told me it would cost N35 million, I promptly asked to be given the money while I volunteered to take the place of the statue! Iro ni!! It’s a lie!! Just imagine!!! The point of prudence in the story is a trick to hide the jester’s impudence!!! O my God!

Indeed, democracy is working. There is another story that Ali likes sharing. It goes like this, that during a visit to Zimbabwe, the President, Robert Mugabe brought up an issue of diplomatic importance and, when I asked him what it was about, he could not help showing his anger. He said that his High Commissioner in Niagara reported a matter of grave concern about a comedian who joked that he, Mugabe, was asked by the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, what the damage was after a fire outbreak that engulfed Zimbabwe’s own INEC headquarters and that his response was that, apart from structural damage, the only thing that was lost was the result of the following year’s presidential election! Naturally, I knew it was Ali Baba but I diplomatically came to his defence. On hindsight, maybe I should not have. But I did with all my strength and conviction. I told him Ali was my friend and that he meant no harm. I even added that I had asked this same Ali to collect all the jokes that people were circulating about me. Mugabe noted that Ali was very lucky; in his case, he was already collecting all people circulating jokes about him! As I said, our own democracy is working. That’s why anybody can come out in the open and shout, “Umoruuu, are you deaf?”, when the man is neither deaf nor Umoruu.

So, ladies and gentlemen, you will come across several things in his book that will make you think, make you laugh and, let me warn, make you feel like slapping somebody! All these can happen. But I would advise that you take them for what they are: just jokes and issues crafted to provoke laughter.

*Ali Baba in the Eyes of Baba Ali is a parody of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s foreword to Ali Baba’s yet-to-be-published book of jokes.

*First published in TELL, March 10, 2008.

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