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The ant colony—or political parables about a certain country

The ant colony—or political parables about a certain country

By: Adewuyi Taiwo

Imagine this country’s flag is a field of green corn, white cotton, and succulent grass. Ants scurry over the soil of their fatherland, everybody in their castes. The soldier ants obey the whim of the new colony-al masters by harassing everyone who doesn’t quietly do his work but chitters like a cricket about the national strikes. The crickets are treated like criminals for blaspheming the democratic gods.

The worker ants are those government workers commuting between anthills of metal and glass, wearing threadbare suits and those fancy puppy leashes they call ties. They weightlift crumbs of the national cake bigger than their own financial size to pay homage to the colonial masters before ultimately falling apart, appendage by appendage, to be sustained only by the trickle of nutrients we call pension.

As a journalist in this field of corn, you dare not preach good governance and the gospel of political repentance anywhere because some politician-pharisees can bear false witness against you. Before you know it, you are carrying the cross of the country’s corruption and all its democratic sins. The police will mock you by calling you the King of the Nigerian Jews and spit on you. Your sweat will flow like blood, or your blood like sweat. And you will be brought before many Pontius Pilates who adorn their heads with blond wigs and wear black coats. They have bowls of water beside them to wash their hands off your case and wash it again to start eating their rewards for not letting you go.

But don’t you think that last statement reminds you of those pre-Independence Moseses who told the white Pharaohs to let their people go? It shocks you deeply that even in the Promised Land, your people are still enslaved to new Pharaohs who sprouted from among them. They will nail you to many crosses on social me,dia but your reputation will not rise again on the third day or the fourth or the fifth because, number one, they will never stop killing your social image. In fact, don’t be surprised if you take the blame for a political Barabbas. Number two, you don’t have a Godfather, a political equivalent of God the Father, to resurrect you.

The scarecrow also resembles a man on the cross, the only distinction being that a scarecrow is often a stuffed humanoid used to scare away the crowd of crows that would reduce the field to shreds of leaves if left unchecked. But what if the crows are lawful citizens and the scarecrow’s hands are each made of a single yet deadly rifle? This nation is full of plot twists, and it often feels like we are watching a suspenseful, funny, yet tragic thriller with our corneas being the huge cinema screens. Mind you, we can’t afford popcorn, not while the dollar is flapping its papery wings towards the horizon of the future, and our naira is crawling like a crippled snail.

If we move on to that part of the flag that is like cotton, we will see that it is actually made of the white wool of millions of sheep following a shepherd who promised in his campaign to lead them to greener pastures. Sadly, the country’s pastures are not as green as the flag, and one can think of this country as a green wilderness if there can ever be such a thing.

It is also quite unfortunate that the shepherd has a wolfish face, replete with cold, cunning eyes, black fur and fangs, and the sheep are only safe inside his stomach. But like sheep destined for the slaughter, they stand before the shepherd and say nothing because they understand they are living sacrifices for this country.

Our fathers who art in Aso Rock.

Hallowed be your names (despite your glaring acts of corruption).

Thy will be done in this country as it is done in your hearts …

Now, what I am about to tell you may sound like a scene from a horror movie or one of the bizarre episodic dreams we have when we are feverish, but imagine that the eagle in our coat of arms suddenly becomes animated and flies off the shield on which it has rested for so many years. It then goes around pecking into the basket on every Nigerian head, like the dream of the Egyptian baker or pecking our eyes like almond fruits.

Have you ever seen large women pounding yams in a mortar? Now imagine the horses in the coat of arms trampling a man into paste. Gory, right? Many have had their rights trampled upon by these horses. But we have gotten used to it. We have gotten used to the bloodless coups that take place during our ridiculous elections, and every driver remembers to drop a tiny crumb of money for the military hounds while plying the federal roads lest they bark at him and beat his car up or change the topography of his face and he becomes cured of his boldness.

There are still others in the same sinking boats with us who would rather fill their bellies with the most minuscule crumbs of the national cake than tell the truth. And like they say, table manners demand that they cannot talk against the prevalent corruption while eating.

What, then, shall we do?

I, personally, cannot make a proposition as to how we can make this nation better. Besides, I wouldn’t dare say much because, like they say, there is freedom of speech, but the freedom after speech is not guaranteed. But I can admonish us to persevere until our heads go bald. And not to forget to recite the pledge like a mantra.

It helps, I think.

Adewuyi Taiwo is a quiet creature among the thousands living in Ibadan. He writes poetry almost every day. His works have appeared in Kalahari Review, Written Tales, Spillwords and elsewhere. He tweets at TaiwoAdewuyi8

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