By: Akinnawonu Joseph Olaoluwa


‘God forbid that a man your age should not see the morning sun and not hear the rooster’s wake up call. Good morning, Chief Uba’

‘The rooster has been laid to rest, and the devourers are not bothered about the loved ones it left behind. So, what’s good about the morning, Alhaji?

‘It will cost you nothing to reply a friendly good morning, like mine, with a nod or a firm handshake. Even the town crier does not leave a message for the people without proper salutation.’

‘If the people were so precious to the town crier, or his greetings were, why does he, with a bright smile declare doom on the people still?’

‘Well.’

‘Now you’re stammering, Alhaji. Now, you’re stammering.’

‘Will a man live with sadness all his days? Chief, you’re too young to die of grief.’

‘And what do you consider this life, a morsel of tuwo and a plate of masa? No much difference. What’s the worth of a life here? Have you seen the headlines? Have you read the headlines, Alhaji?’

‘The cemetery attendant has seen so much death, the sight of a ghost no longer scares him. Nothing, absolutely nothing scares him. What about the headlines. There’s nothing new.’

‘But Alhaji, you will agree that no matter how beautiful and well crafted a coffin might look, it will not make anyone wish for death. These 86 are not just mere numbers, but people like you and I, people with family members; wives, daughters, loved ones. Is your conscience dead?

‘Not mine. 86? What happened this time?’

‘Oh! Let’s save rhetorics for another sad morning. We must find answers to this chaos. It’s sad Alhaji, and more terrible that Mallam, your brother, is yet to say a word on this matter.’

‘He is now my brother, Chief? Please don’t turn this discussion to another tribal debate. Please don’t.’

‘But Mallam’s wife said all is fair in love and war, Alhaji. Your brother is a coward and a weakling, he should resign.’

‘Chief, we both know that the Carmel will have to go through the needle’s eye or the gods’ mouthpiece will have to dance naked at the market square before Mallam resigns, or anybody in that position. Gaskiya ga Allah, it’s difficult.’

‘Why should it be difficult, Alhaji? He became a public servant accidentally, why can’t he also leave office accidentally?’

‘Has Mallam’s wife condemned the killing on her Twitter page? I heard she’s active there.’

‘(Laughs hysterically) Alhaji! You hold this family in high esteem, don’t you? Well, she said she wasn’t elected. She has nothing to say, not even sympathy to give.’

‘Kai! You mean Mallam’s wife said that?’

‘Looks impossible? She said it. Can something good come out from Nazareth? I doubt it. Each week with its own sad news from your region.’

‘Chief, it’s everywhere, you just can’t guilt trip a region. Is there much difference between the frog and the toad? The man who left prison as a thief, was welcomed back to the Senate as a crusader for democracy. Is he from my region? No shame!’

‘Heaven helps those who help themselves in this country.’

‘Tooh! That’s why we are where we are. No shame! No shame at all.’

‘Alhaji, I agree with you that the decay stinks everywhere. Nothing is yet to be done to the speaker who embezzled public funds for his girlfriends and concubines. Absolutely nothing! The eagle is blind to this.’

‘The Eagle? He who beats the drum for the mad man to dance is no better than the mad man himself. God forbid anything is done, Chief. He who pays the piper dictates the tune. The elders are fanning his ego.’

‘So many elders these days; no wonder they now think with the hole in their butt.’

‘I agree with you on this. The one in Lagos has made himself a demigod; no one dares to touch him.’

‘And that’s why one of his boys can be caught stealing on camera and the people still hail him. They even go as far as celebrating him with a chieftancy title. Outright abomination!’

‘It will lead to others striving to seek the favour of this man. See the story of the former comrade.’

‘He who is short has no business in the tapping of palmwine, or whatever the proverb is, but my comrade has proven this golden rule wrong.’

‘(Laughs hysterically) He has the state in his pocket, and the money to buy a pot of soup. The people will dance to his tune.’

‘Aren’t the people tired of bag of rice politics? We are too lethargic.’

‘Blessed are the meek for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the peace makers for theirs is the kingdom of God. God forbid we riot.’

‘Kai, who do us this kind thing?’

‘The people who call themselves preachers of love. Love over riot and protest. Karl Max was right after all.’

‘The bag must be secured. Well, they sell hope.’

‘Hope? That is long gone with 1993.’

‘Nothing has changed. All those who were involved in that mayhem are all rewarded with pot bellies and big political offices.’

‘The present one in power even called the main antagonist of that mayhem a national hero. You hate to see it.’

‘I’ve stopped stressing myself over him. A man who does not have an ordinary waec certificate. God forbid I call him my leader.’

‘This country is a narrative of paradoxes. Let him continue playing Jesus and keep granting salvation to repentant terrorists. What a joke.’

‘He who the gods want to destroy, they first make mad.’

‘But it seems the gods reward those who have fat pockets with fat bellies.’

‘A politician gave his people rope to tie down their goats as that was his own intervention fund. Can’t you see that the gods have made us all mad?’

‘And we wonder why the animals are jealous of these politicians. Why won’t they emulate their deeds. If not monkey, it’s snake. The one caught on camera was rewarded with a second term.’

‘They are mad!’

‘You dare not speak these words in public or your disappearance will just be another Twitter hashtag. God forbid the people protest your disappearance.’

‘I’ll rather die, than sit here all day and do nothing.’

‘But make sure your death is good enough for a headline.’

’86 dead. No name, nothing. People are now reduced to mere numbers.’

‘Tomorrow will come, and we would have moved on with our normal lives, waiting for another 86.’

‘A chicken-chaser must take a fall, and a chicken must waddle. God forbid I’m the next.’

‘God keeps forbidding.’

‘Do you still have anyone who fears God these days? A country where people rape and murder themselves in the house of God.’

‘[Sigh!]’

‘We’ve so much internalized trauma, nothing irks us again.’

‘We were all here when a Senator molested a sales girl on camera. Did anything happen?’

‘Chukwu adighi kpuo isi.’

‘Toh! We’ve been reduced to mere spectators.’

‘Over my dead body; I’ll rather die than be silent!’

‘Chief, you’re not too young to run for political office, but you’re too young to die.’

‘But what should we do, Alhaji?’

‘Move your family abroad. That’s the Nigerian dream’

‘God forbid I do what I condemn.’

‘God forbid I make a speech at your funeral.’

‘It’s difficult being a citizen here. The gods must have been sentimental to send me here.’

‘The gods have questions to answer, but trust me, not today.’


Akinnawonu Joseph breathes everything literary. He is a poet most of the time but for love for Chelsea, the football club.

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