Roughly two weeks into what would have been Ras Kimono’s 62nd birthday, I find myself singing the hit song “What’s Gwan?” of his 1990 album of the same name — repeated as if compelled by a supreme force. That song captured his bewilderment at the state of affairs in Nigeria at that time. I find myself asking the same question, especially in respect of the mysterious deaths that are being recorded in Kano — the city of the Dollar-man and his four stooges, sorry, emirs. What’s gwan inna this our Kano?
Granted, we are in a difficult time — a time where the ordinary tends to usurp even the extraordinary. Every event that concerns health and the natural end of man is viewed with a COVID-19-tinted lens of suspicion. It comes as no surprise that the recent deaths recorded in the state have caught the attention of the world.
As at the time of writing this, officials of the Kano government are denying the reports of mass deaths and have promised to investigate the fatal incidents recorded. This is unlike the Kano I know and have read about. The Kano of old was quick to dispel a sprouting allegation of bribery and corruption against Dr. Gandollar OFR and voted him for a second term. The Kano of old was quick in settling the scores of the game of many a presidential election without the stress of an extra-time of rerun by its significant army of underage voters. The Kano of old was swift in enacting a law disintegrating an emirate into four. Not so long ago, the Kano of old dethroned and banished a hot-headed revolutionary emir without the heavens falling. I am surprised that this new Kano is taking much time to establish the cause of the death of its people.
Without being unfair to Kano, let me pause a bit to splash some accolades on the mother of all cities — the city of the great emir, sorry, the city of the four great emirs. Kano’s eulogy recites thus: “Kano ta Dabo tumbin giwa, yaro ko dame ka zo an fika.” It loosely translates to; Emir Dabo’s Kano lacks nothing and is second to none.
When COVID-19 stepped on the much-chronicled city of Kano, inhabitants treated it like any other Chinese export or visitor. A troupe of traditional singers and dancers was sent to welcome it amidst jubilation and fanfare. No kobo was spent from the state’s coffers; they have Gandollar’s dollars to thank for that. A novelty football game tagged “Corona Match” was held in honour of the guest of honour. There, Social-Distancing and Stay-Home orders were defiled before, during, and after the game.
This grand welcome was held to uphold the city’s legendary pride and to prove to the world that the city cannot be frightened into submission by a creature of God that is so small that it cannot be seen by the naked eyes. They also wanted to prove that Covidocracy (rule by an exported disease) cannot obtain in Kano as their allegiance can only be divided amongst four rulers and not five.
Cityzens of Kano are vehemently opposed to any insinuation that the fatalities that are being recorded, as negligible as the numbers seem, are attributable to COVID-19. The truth is, Kano is killing Kano to prove to COVID-19 that if it thinks it does a good job at killing, it cannot kill better than Kano and, by extension, Naija. After all, yaro ko dame ka zo an fika – come with whatsoever you will find us more than your equal.
You see, the truth is, we don’t need COVID-19 to kill us before we die our die. Poverty, environmental pollution, youth unemployment, communal strives, religion, politics, bad roads, security forces and the name Nigeria itself is willing to kill you, be it home or abroad, be you young or old, wise or foolish, rich or poor.
To survive Nigeria in these difficult times, all that is needed is to play your part well and hope that you get to elongate your life in Nigeria in order to shame a country that is all out to sever your head from your body.
On a final note, in light of the many problems besetting Nigeria in our times, after much contemplation on the problem with Nigeria, Ras Kimono (if he were to be living in our times) would perhaps conclude with another rendition of his, Under Pressure. Perceptive reader, I leave you with an excerpt of some Rastafarian inspiration:
Under pressure we wail under pressure
Under pressure black people under pressure
Under pressure Nigerians under pressure
Under pressure Africans under pressure
No food in we belly
No money in ah we pocket
No bed we lay we head
The people dem are suffer
In ah ghetto, in ah city
Everywere dah me go oh
Me see them, some are cry, some are die
Some are weeping! Some are wailing!
Everywhere dah oh eh
Under pressure we wail under pressure
Under pressure everybody under pressure
Under pressure black and white under pressure
Under pressure Europeans under pressure