Saturday, October 1, 2016

GRATITUDE IN DEPENDENCE

Nigeria is 56. It is a weird, nondescript  age to be throwing a big party. But especially since we have crossed the life expectancy of the average Nigerian, we need to be thankful. 

I have waited for president Buhari to be show appropriate gratitude and have heard nothing of substance. So I have decided to come in, like I often do on independence day. 

I want to thank all of the countries and entities that keep up afloat, without which we would be a shell of a country. The entities on which we are dependent. 

Thank you America. For always knowing. For always recieving our president when he runs to beg for your support. Thank you for sometimes stepping in and telling our president what to do even though you have your own madman threatening to take over and fuck Muslims and Mexicans up. Also, thank you for that accent that our radio presenters across the country try so desperately to copy. Really urban radio stations would be dead without you. We love you. You will see your flag flying in most big hotels in the cities. Yes the flag may be dirty, but at least we tried. 
Ps. Thank you also for not complaining too much about our president massacring hundreds of Shiites. Think what a human rights disaster that would have been. I am not saying you are secretly excited that Iran's foothold in Nigeria is destroyed but, you know just when to look away boo. Can't love you enough. Hugs.


Thank you UK. For keeping some of our key projects afloat. For DFID without which most of our hospitals would crash. For the projects which provide decent employment for our consultants and PhD’s and other development hustlers. For the schools which make sure the children of our elite take over from where their parents stopped ruining us. Thank you for staying even if your own relationship back at home has broken down and you are about to move out of your ex’s home. Breakups are hard. I hope that nothing cracks as you move your things out of the EU. Hugs. 

Thank you Holland. For easing the nerves of Nigerians with our most popular brand of beer. Many Nigerians may not realize Star Lager is a Dutch product, but I do. Thank you for helping us effectively wash away our sorrows. And for not always bragging that our national product is actually yours. 

Thank you South Africa. For all the companies that make our lives bearable. For DSTV, without which we would be stuck with government propaganda and adverts. For Shoprite. For MTN which teaches us values like patience and knowing how to have a backup plan. Thanks big brother. And, PS. We know that sometimes you treat us like shit, but sometimes a big brother disciplines the children of his younger brother. It keeps the relationship in check. The truth is, we need you. 

Thank you Switzerland. For safely storing all the money stolen from our country which has all come in handy in this recession. Your honesty is commendable. You even returned some of it. You just need to give the rest back. But we know you will at your own time. Some think your people are boring. They just don’t understand you like I do. Hugs. Oh, also sorry about Sepp Blatter.

Thank you Dubai. For keeping the wives and mistresses of our corrupt civil servants and leaders busy with interesting, expensive hobbies. For providing a safe haven when our corrupt politicians are too scared to go into America or Britain. You preserve our love.

Thank you Germany. For Julius Berger. Without whom in the event of an emergency, we would be in serious trouble. Thank you for all our major roads and bridges.

Thank you Ghana, Cyprus, Ukraine, Malaysia… for providing our pretend middle class an opportunity to give their children a decent education. Abroad is abroad. 

Thank you Benin Republic. For all the cooks who keep the expatriates in Nigeria nourished while they provide us technical expertise and foreign aid.

Thank you United Nations. For feeding our starving citizens especially the children and not wondering why in a country with such rich fat bastards, millions of people, especially children are starving. Be patient with us. We need you boo.

Thank you China. For the shinier, cheaper versions of all the things most of our people cannot afford. For the second hand trains. I know we are paying for it somehow, but still, thank you. I know America sometimes whispers into our ear not to get in bed with you too often, but at least you are an honest lover. You don’t lie to us like AMerica and UK does about wanting to marry us or be our boo; you don’t tell us you love us when you want to sleep with us. We know it is just for the sex. We don’t expect love or anything. And for this we are grateful. 
Ps. It would be nice if your people mixed with our people sometimes. We will learn your language if you want.

Thank you English football and the UEFA Champions League. For providing a distraction for young Nigerians who would otherwise have had the time to worry about a fast failing country. For the trends on Twitter on the weekends. You don’t know it yet, but English football and the Champions League have contributed to our stability as a nation, so that instead of quarrel about development, we can spend time fighting over Arsenal and Manchester United or whether Ronaldo is better than Messi. And for this we say, God bless you. 

Thank you foreign journalists. For asking the questions our journalists are too underpaid to ask. For being there when our president needs to speak abroad. For telling us the things we would never have found out. May God bless your hustle and lead you to more of our leaders and secrets.

Thank you Germany, England and India. For preserving the quality of life of our politicians and making sure they are healthy and able to rule us well. England especially, for treating our daddy's ears so that he can hear us better. For also treating their families and providing a decent place for our wealthy to die. God will bless your hustle.


May the good lord continue keeping these lovely people for us so that we can grow to even greater heights. Can I get an amen?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

NIPPING DISLOYALTY IN THE BUD

“Imagine a world where everyone is free to say what they want. Where animals can just wake up and tell other animals in their social circles what they want. Where animals can spread rumours about holy farm hands or god forbid, about our righteous and beloved White. Would that be complete chaos?”

A turkey called Tolo-Tolo who once fought for the right of animals to speak under the cow Goodhead was speaking at a convention of Whitist worshippers. As Tolo-Tolo spoke, the Whitist worshippers cheered and rained insults on all the animals who felt it was their right to speak out against White. Animals had a way of being ungrateful. They wanted change on the farm. They wanted Goodhead out. And now they were daring to complain about the farm. 

The farm hands in the various animal quarters were busy. The leaders of the animals quarters were tightening their grip on the public space. They were tying up animals that insulted them. In the canine quarters where White was born, the leader, Mai Tsami, an old wolf whose face looked like a lemon that was going bad was busy typing up a bunch of young bull dogs for asking why he distributed coffins to animals on the canine farm. Mai Tsami got his dogs to chase down the bull dogs and drag them to him where they were accused with causing disaffection among canines and inciting the animal public against Mai Tsami. And Mai Tsami was right. Once you let animals speak freely, then the whole farm will turn into one chaotic convention of free speech. 

Elsewhere, White had detained and harassed a parrot who had been telling stories about the wild dogs in the north of the farm. The parrot Sal Qaeda, had flown out of the farm for fear of his life and was lured back by farm hands of White, particularly the genocidal farm hand Dick-Tai. As Sal Qaeda flew back, they told him to tell everyone he was being treated like a king when in fact they were sticking broom sticks in his anus. He thought that when he helped them, they would let him go the way the farm management had always let him go even during the days of Goodhead. But then the problem with parrots is that once you let them go, they start to tell stories. And so Sal Qaeda began to cry out and say that his life was in danger. Dick-Tai laughed a deep genocidal laugh when Sal Qaeda began screaming. “Look at what I did to the bats,” he said to his friends, “You think if I wanted to make Sal Qaeda disappear I would not have already done it? Does he know how many bats I made disappear?” 

Meanwhile, hunger spread throughout the farm and the farm management was considering selling off some of the yam barns and plots of land so that it could raise money to buy food for the many starving animals. The animal in charge of the farms resources was a goat called Felefele who used to live large under Goodhead but who secretly supported White as he became farm manager. Many animals could not understand why White would not let Felefele go especially with the way he was managing the farms resources. But White was wise and patient and loving and kind. And White could do no wrong. 

White was preparing to bring back an old rule he used when he was a young violent wolf and he made his farm hands prepare to make animals join queues and stand in straight lines. “I hate crooked lines,” White said, “it makes me dizzy.”

“Look at all the great farms. They all stand in orderly queues. This surely is the secret to a successful farm: standing in straight lines. Straight lines make us see clearly, which in turn makes us think clearly.”

Animals were going to be flogged with canes if they did not follow the orders of White’s farm hands who were going to be recruited to preserve order. 

“And you know when you stand still in a straight line, you don’t feel as hungry as you do when you just do whatever you,” White said, assuring hungry animals that this was going to solve the food crisis. 

The farm was blessed to have White as a visionary leader who could reach into his past and bring back something that worked without even charging the animals anything. All free. It would take an animal who was wise to see how much foresight White had.

And Goodhead’s wife was angry that White had confiscated her yams, saying that as a female cow, males always gave gifts to her. 

And the leader of the crocodiles continued positioning himself to replace White. 

And the animals got more and more hungry.

And farm hands prepared to bring back the queues and straight lines. 

And animals kept getting tied up by farm leaders for talking about them in their social circles. 

And worshippers of White became more and more excited, singing: Rejuvenation begins with me.

And the Whitist priests chanted and prayed:

In the name of the White father
And of the farm hands
And of the holy Whitists…

Bless us White for we have sinned
Bless our thoughts
Bless our desires
Bless our intentions

Blessed be thy name
Thy will be done in every quarter among every animal species
Teach us to love your will
Teach us to be teachable
Teach us to trust your will even when your will may not be clear
Teach us to defend your will before it becomes your will
For thine are the decisions, the thoughts and the glory
For as long as you choose to be farm leader

Amen




Sunday, September 18, 2016

REJUVENATION BEGINS WITH ME


White, the immaculate, furry wolf who had been running the now deteriorating animal farm for over a year, was growing weary. Apart from managing a pain in his anus for which he was receiving treatment, the whole governance business exhausted him. He was tired of the complaints of ungrateful disloyal animals, especially non-wolves. He was tired of the animals with good memories, especially the elephants who remembered every single thing he promised when he was trying to take over from the cow that ran the farm before, Goodhead. The elephants recited his promises to him. They reminded him that he promised rejuvenation. That he promised 5 bags of grain to each animal family that couldn't afford food. That he promised to stabilise the exchange rate of grains. That he promised not to be like he was as a young, violent, aggressive wolf. He promised he had changed. He was born again. 

White was tired. And so his farm hands, seeing the wrinkles on his face, devised a plan. It was an amazing plan. They told him to flip the tables. “Change things,” they said, “make them work for it. You are wise and benevolent. You are kind and holy. No one should make you tired. Yes, you promised rejuvenation, but so what? What work are the lazy animals doing? Do they not have a duty also to rejuvenate themselves? When they are hungry do they not look for food? When they are thirsty do they not look for water? Do they wait for their bodies to magically rejuvenate? Why do they place this great burden on you?”

White heard this great argument and was convinced. He thus commissioned a new slogan titled: “Rejuvenation Begins With You” with posters of camels drinking water at a stream. He spent a lot of money launching this project and said it was directed at making animals take responsibility for their own lives. “If a camel is thirsty, it drinks. And it stores water inside its body for times of drought. All animals must make rejuvenation of the farm start with them.”

White spoke passionately (even though he still felt a pain in his anus when he squatted to defecate) and told animals to take their destinies into their own hands and not wait for him to fix the farm. And the worshippers of White fell on their faces and cried out in praises, calling White wise and great. And they painted it on their bodies: Rejuvenation Begins With Me. And they preached it. And they sang it. 

White was still tired. Tired of having to say a new thing each time he visited a different set of animals. “They expect me to have a new speech every time, like I had words waiting in my paws.” And the farm hands of White too were tired of writing new speeches. And they made a list of great speeches made by great farm managers across the animal world. They read through those speeches and picked out the ones they really liked and circled the paragraphs that would resonate with animals on the farm. And each time White would go out they would sneak in a paragraph from those speeches so that White would not have to make up all the words himself. Because White was tired. And they were tired. And White did not read enough to detect when his speech was stolen. And in the end, it was just words; no one owns words. 

While all this was going on, the wife of the former farm manager Goodhead, who almost wrecked the farm with his theft, was living her life peacefully. The farm hands of White who were looking into the theft by Goodhead’s farm hands found lots of grains stashed in a field owned by Goodhead’s wife, a female cow who had eaten so much of the farms grains she looked like she was about to burst. And she swore that all those grains were to maintain her weight because she was told by the veterinarian she met outside the farm (and he took a lot of grain for his treatment), that she needed quite a lot of grain to maintain her body weight and that if her body weight dropped, she could have a heart attack. 

And although White swore and promised that he was going to imprison all the animals that had stolen grain together with Goodhead, White was too tired to see it through. And he settled for embarrassing them in public. He released information about their theft so that the whole farm would know. But he didn’t have the energy to actually imprison the senior animals who had stolen with Goodhead. 

And the leader of the crocodile farm kept quietly plotting to replace White. 

And there was famine creeping up on the animals in the farm.

And the worshippers of White chanted: Rejuvenation Begins With Me.

And the farm hands castigated the elephants who had long memories. 

And the entire farm went into a recession.

And the farm hands said that recession was just a word. (And they were right)

And grains became more expensive.

And the farm hand in charge of grains blamed the rising cost of grains on the disloyal animals who ate too much grains. 

And Whitist priests prayed:

In the name of the White father
And of the farm hands
And of the holy Whitists…

Bless us White for we have sinned
Bless our thoughts
Bless our desires
Bless our intentions

Blessed be thy name
Thy will be done in every quarter among every animal species
Teach us to love your will
Teach us to be teachable
Teach us to trust your will even when your will may not be clear
Teach us to defend your will before it becomes your will
For thine are the decisions, the thoughts and the glory
For as long as you choose to be farm leader


Amen

Sunday, September 4, 2016

THE RESURRECTION OF WHITE


And it came about that on the farm agitation grew especially among the animals who had organised and campaigned for White to become farm manager. As hunger grew among the animals and other non-wolf species began to feel afraid and threatened, animals started accusing each other of deceiving farm animals about the abilities of White to transform the farm into a better place after the destruction by Goodhead and his friends. 

Most animals had very little recollection of when White was once farm manager. When Goodhead was still a little animal jumping about and having fun, White was a young, strong, vicious black wolf. In his first period as farm manager, no one chose him to become farm manager. He bullied his way in. He attacked the farm manager at the time, a docile duck called Drinkgarri who only knew how to eat, shit and float on water. White and his other canine and big cat friends were so irritated with Drinkgarri and his terrible handling of the farm and his shitting everywhere and his coiled penis that dangled right after he had mounted a female duck that they jumped into the water where he was, plucked his feathers, bound his wings and kicked him aside. Drinkgarri was fortunate not to have been killed even. White was asked to take over power and he began the process of changing the rules and making life tough for the animals. He asked his newly appointed farm hands to use whips to keep the animals in line. For animals whom White thought were too problematic, rules were created to execute them. White introduced food rations and cut the farm off from farms around. He tied up any animals that tried to embarrass him or his farm hands. However, while he was forceful and stern, he knew little about running a farm or feeding the animals. And so, not so many months after he had introduced hunger and terror on the farm, his own friends decided he was too harsh in running the farm and more so, had no clue how to bring prosperity back to the farm. 

A couple of decades later, White had now shed off his black fur, acquired white fur and was looked upon as an animal that was clean, immaculate. All he was, was old.  Age had turned black to white. And desperation had turned evil to good. And as the animals who were desperate to remove Goodhead needed options, they looked to the old born again White. He looked bright and beautiful and holy and loving. The animals seeing White as a replacement told animals to forget about White’s history of brutality, rigidity, favouring his own species and a lack of understanding of how to run the farm. They showed animals his white fur and said that this meant he was clean and hadn't killed any prey or rolled in the mud. And that what the farm needed was a clean farm manager. They told everyone that he was only brutal in the past because he was young and the animals he was dealing with were quite stubborn. They said that once a clean farm manager came into power, every other thing would fall into place. The farm’s economy. The farm’s darkness. The farm’s violence. And White smiled and nodded along, silently.

The animals believed all of this. And they erased the history that showed White in his youthful, destructive prime. And they presented him in all his white glory as the messiah of all animals. 

In the beginning of White’s second coming, his friends defended him. They begged animals on the farm to give him time. They told animals, Goodhead was so bad, it was impossible to fail without him being the direct cause. Slowly, as White became more and more deaf and as the violence around him increased, even his friends - animals who had contributed resources to his campaign - began to complain. White was not listening to anyone. He was doing what pleased him, when it pleased him. And it became harder and harder for the slaves who worked for White to craft new lies to defend his actions or the actions of rogue or murderous or clueless farm hands who paraded themselves as agents of White. Then they stopped lying altogether and began asking animals to endure all the pain because it was not the fault of White that there was darkness or hunger or scarcity of water. It was the fault of Goodhead. 

“Suffering is just a word,” a frog farm hand of White called Kermit swore. “Darkness is just a word. Thirst is just a word. Hunger is just a word. Genocide of bats is just a phrase. And whether it is a word or a phrase, it is fine as long as you can take your mind off it. We, as faithful and loyal believer in White, shall overcome.”

The animals who groped around in darkness were shocked at this. The animals whose throats were parched were shocked at this. The surviving relatives of bats, who were massacred by White’s farm hand Dick-Tai were too busy mourning to be shocked by this - they were too busy looking for their dead and asking how hundreds of animals could just be massacred without consequence. 
But the farm hands had an idea. They had a solution. The reason why nothing was working on the farm was because animals were sinful, not prayerful enough and not hateful enough of Goodhead. They did not trust White enough. If only they were patient. Endure the darkness. Endure the pain. Endure the hunger. Endure the stench of massacred bats. 

And bigger altars were built for the worship of White. And louder speakers were acquired to drown out the animals who were saying that White was still White from two decades before. And they prayed:

In the name of the White father
And of the farm hands
And of the holy Whitists…

Bless us White for we have sinned
Bless our thoughts
Bless our desires
Bless our intentions

Blessed be thy name
Thy will be done in every quarter among every animal species
Teach us to love your will
Teach us to be teachable
Teach us to trust your will even when your will may not be clear
Teach us to defend your will before it becomes your will
For thine are the decisions, the thoughts and the glory
For as long as you choose to be farm leader

Amen

Friday, August 26, 2016

NOW THAT BUHARI IS DEAD



With gratitude to God, a heavy heart and total submission to the will of the intolerant Nigerian people, I wish to announce the untimely demise of a dog belonging to a certain trader, Joachim Iroko, by the name of Buhari. Buhari died at the hands of unknown assailants. I was not aware of this dog's full name. I think it is unfair that dogs get only first names and although we claim to love them we have no regard for their ancestors or their need for blood lines. We snatch puppies from their mothers and take them to new homes. We separate puppies from their siblings in the most cruel way. And in the end, we erase any connection with their past by giving them only first names.

I do not know if Buhari was survived by siblings or if (I assume it is male) it fathered any children. What is important to know is that, Buhari is dead and it was not a natural death. 

It takes great courage to stand up for the innocent but powerless especially when people around are united against such a powerless individual. But I choose to stand with Buhari, the voiceless, powerless victim of the spiral of hate and intolerance. Now, one may say, (just like we all agreed when our army massacred the Shiites) that Buhari had it coming; that Buhari deserved to be killed because of all of its actions. And I think you have a point: Buhari was after all a dog. It must have peed in public places, bitten someone, mounted and gotten stuck in every female dog it could find or even eaten food that did not belong to it. This is what dogs do. The real question however is, does this mean Buhari deserved to die?

The murder happened when its owner Joachim Iroko, was in jail facing charges relating to the naming of Buhari. They said Iroko breached the peace by giving his dog such a name. I do not know why Mr Iroko named his pet Buhari. I do not know if he was tired of the dog, didn’t know how to dispose of it and so gave his dog a name he was sure would lead to its death. Because you know Nigerians, how fragile we are. You offend us, or insult something we have declared holy and it eats us up so bad that the only natural reaction is to kill the person who insults us or what we deem holy. I do not blame Nigerians. It hurts for someone to insult you or your prophet (or your president whom you worship like a prophet) and really, it is ok to kill when you are hurt. One must however be strategic and precise when killing fellow living things. Why kill Buhari who played no part in this perceived insult? 

Following the news of this untimely killing, I saw comments from people who said it was a provocation for Mr Joachim Iroko to name his dog after someone cherished by a certain group of people. I want to agree, but knowing animals like Buhari, I beg to differ. The only reason those people were upset was that they themselves do not value the life of dogs. They think dogs are worthless, beneath them. So they get upset if you name a dog after them. I think dogs have rights. Buhari has rights. Humans can be arrogant: we think we are the most superior of all the animals. I want to state here that dog lives matter. If you cannot make a dog, then don’t kill one. I realise there are people, like some from my village who eat dogs. I will address that matter another day. Today I am concerned with the taking of innocent life. 

Buhari did not choose his own name. He probably had no choice in whose owner he would become. He was probably chained all his life and treated like a slave, living outdoors or in a dirty cage. Let me say it again: I think that if someone offends you, you should kill them. Even worse if someone offends your God (especially as sometimes God needs us to do his dirty work for him - who else will kill those who insult him?). But Buhari did no such thing. 

Buhari’s killers probably poisoned him and left him to die in some gutter. This brings me to another issue: waste. Some people eat dogs. Now, to be clear, I am totally against the killing or consumption of dogs, but if there is no way of avoiding death, it is best to kill responsibly. At least kill the dog in a way that it would still be useful to those who find it edible. It is like being an organ donor. It is bad for you to die, but if that should happen then it is great if your organs are useful to someone else. They should have arranged with people from my village who eat dogs so that at least if Buhari had no value in life, in death he would please someone. 

I never got to meet Buhari personally, but his death saddens me. And it should sadden every believer in equal rights. I hope that our animal rights NGOs will step in and take up this matter. Buhari did not deserve to die. 

He will be missed.  #JusticeForBuhari #DogLivesMatter 

Ps. I am unsure if Mr Joachim Iroko has planned any funeral rites for Buhari. I will let you all know as soon as I find out about Buhari's funeral arrangements. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A LETTER TO MY FUTURE KIDNAPPERS


Dear Future Kidnappers,

I hope this finds you well. If so, doxology. (I mean praises be to God. Not everyone knows what doxology is these days). I am not mocking you. The very reason you have become so popular in today’s Nigeria is that all is not well. I get that. When I say I hope this finds you well, I mean that in spite of all the problems, some of which have driven you to this profession (forgive me if you have a day job which you prefer to call your profession), I hope you are somehow ok, health wise and all. Because to be ill and be a kidnapper can be a bit problematic. You don't want to have a bladder infection and be managing an abduction at the same time. In short, I am wishing that you are in good health or at least a state of health that will not jeopardise your business. 

You see, unlike many Nigerians, my head is not buried in the sand. I will not express shock when you kidnap me. I will not express anger. I will not break down in tears. I will not pee in my pants (except if you kidnap me just after drinking and refuse to let me use the bathroom and if so, I apologise for soiling your premises or place of business). I will not have any of the reactions which I assume you have become accustomed to. (I am sincerely hoping that you have some experience in this kidnapping business because I would hate to deal with a beginner: beginners panic and do things like shoot the people they have abducted. If you are new, I will advice you to calm down. I am not going to be a problem. We can work through this together. Like they say, with God all things are possible.)

The reason I am calm is simple. I am a Nigerian that has common sense. I also read. I know how hard things are becoming. I also know how ungoverned Nigeria is. So whether it has become easier to kidnap people or life has become harder or both, I understand. Also, we both know the Police is not going to get involved under any circumstances except perhaps to make sure the ransom money is secure so yeah, I am not going to call them. None of my people are going to contact the police either. If we are going to have to spend money, better to give it to you, than pay for “fuel” and paper to write the statement then still end up paying the ransom. My point is, calm down and let us negotiate. 

I want you to be reasonable. Ok. Wait. I see you are getting upset. I am not calling you unreasonable. God forbid. I was raised in a good Christian home and I cannot accuse a brother falsely. (You are my brother, let us not argue, even if you are from Cameroon. We are all brothers. Unless you are white and, not that I am racist but I know you are not white.) I am only saying that I am encouraging you to do what you normally would have done, which is, be reasonable. It is like encouraging a child who is already running: “Run Bubu, run”. Ok, I am also not calling you a child. Arrrgggh! Ok, look let us just continue. I don’t have much time.

I want you to understand that even though you may have read my name or the name of my book in the New York Times or The Guardian UK, it does not mean anything. I have no money. My publishers give me only 10% of the profit per book. And let’s be honest, I can never know how many books my publisher actually sells. If they tell me they sold only 100, I can’t prove they sold thousands. This 10% book business is not much better than hawking Gala and La Casera and pure water and scotch egg in traffic. (Ps. I don't understand people who eat scotch egg in public transport in traffic. They stink up the bus and they look silly opening their mouths wide to bite into it. If not that you can’t get much out of them I would have said those are the kind of people who deserve to be kidnapped. Those ones and the agents of darkness who eat moin-moin in offices and on buses.) Plus, I took more than half of the advance on my book and paid it to my landlord in Abuja. If you had not already gone through the trouble of kidnapping me, I would have suggested that you should have taken my Abuja landlord instead of me. But, still, think about it. For one thing, he increased the rent this year without notice or anything. I just came back home and saw a letter saying I had to pay a hundred thousand naira more than I paid last year. No fear of God or anything like that. That, or you take my publisher. My point is, I am a poor writer. All those countries you see me going to, I don’t pay for it. There are nice people in many countries who have read my book and pay for me to come and read there. They don’t even really pay. They just buy my ticket and give a couple hundred dollars as per diem (if I am lucky) and by the time you have gone out twice abroad, the money is all finished. You can’t even buy a decent perfume at the airport on your way back. And you know how Nigerians are. Once they know you travelled abroad, there will be a queue outside your house of people waiting for gifts. Some will even send you a list (without money). And if you ignore them they will say you are proud. They will remind you of the time nobody knew you and only them cared about you. They will call you ungrateful. But it is the life I have chosen. I can’t complain.

I also do not have a rich family. My father is a retired civil servant and my mother, well, unless you can sell her clothes and weaves there is no money to be made there. (I had heard that my mother had other richer suitors, but why my mother chose to marry a poor man is a story for another day.)So, just ask for a little money and we can all be happy. 

However, while the negotiations are going on, I have a few requests. Notice I didn’t say demands. Your ransom is a demand which, don’t get me wrong, you deserve. I am only begging. As a writer, I want to at least make something out of the kidnapping experience. I need to write about it. You make the ransom money, I make some good writing and fame out it. At-all at-all na im bad pass. If possible, I want a selfie. Because you know how our generation is. If there is no photo or video or link it did not happen. You can die these days and the children of the devil on the internet will ask your family announcing it for photos or links so they can believe you are truly dead. I already said I won’t do anything funny like try to call the police. We both know how useless that is (this is not an American film where their police trace kidnapper calls and show up commando style). And really, I expect that as a professional you would have blindfolded me on the way to your business premises. Or we can just use an actual digital camera. If you don’t have one we can buy one - just take the money from the ransom money when you get it. Or ask, as a preliminary demand before actual negotiations that they send a camera. (If it wasn’t too much to ask, I might asked if you would let me sneak a couple of my own demands into your list of demands. But you alone worked for this kidnapping and I won’t just come and ride on your hustle. That would be opportunistic. You know, like a woman struggled with some rough guy for over a decade, patiently cleaned him up, married and made him decent, and then some random woman sees him on the street corner and thinks he was always this wonderful and tries to snatch him. Or like all those criminals who got elected across the country by affixing Buhari's photo to their campaign posters. That kind of opportunistic. God forbid.)

Can we please play some games while we are waiting? I find that boredom kills. Look at the damage our bored legislators do because there is no real work to be done, padding budgets and all. I suggest Ludo. Or WHOT. Also, talk to me. I want to hear your story. I will tell you mine. That you kidnapped me does not mean we can’t gist a little. You may find that we have more in common than you ever imagined. 

(And please don't worry about food. I am not proud. I have no special dietary requirements. I will eat what you eat.)

This may turn out to be the best kidnapping you have ever done.

Ps. Just to be clear, the “Dear” at the top of this letter is not a mere salutation. You are really dear to me. God bless your hustle, and be with you and your loved ones. And may they never, never be kidnapped. 

Love,


Elnathan.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

THE SINS OF THE BATS


And it came about that in those days, the winged creatures on the farm became agitated and full of rage following the massacre of bats by White’s farm hand Dick-Tai. But not rage about the massacre. Although Dick-Tai had done a great job in the minds of White and some of White’s supporters in and out of the farm, the winged creatures who hated bats felt that it was not enough. It was not enough that the leader of the bats who barely escaped with his life, now injured and going blind, was still in custody and had his wings clipped. It was not enough that hundreds of bats were still in custody with no access to their families or any sort of justice. The winged creatures had a meeting in the crocodile swamps and concluded on what the solution would be: Bats had to be eradicated from the farm. Completely. No more bats. It was hard to completely kill them off. There were almost 5 million bats on the farm. Not too many compared to the general population of animals - almost 200 million. But someone had to do something about the bats that blocked the sun when they were flying out to feed on mangoes or when they had processions. 

This is the story of the bats: 

In the beginning, long, long ago when there were not too many different types of winged creatures on the farm, there were two farms completely dominated by winged creatures, struggling for dominance. And those farms spread their ideologies among winged creatures everywhere. One farm was a farm of bats. The other farm was a farm of hawks. And the hawks promoted the birth of hawks and the bats promoted the birth of bats. And wherever they could, they tried to secure a majority. And everywhere they fought among themselves and killed each other. Where hawks had a majority, they killed and oppressed bats. Where bats had a majority, they killed and oppressed hawks. 

On White’s farm, bats and hawks received money from the farm or bats and the farm of the hawks respectively to boost their numbers and gain control. While bats never outnumbered the hawks, they steadily grew in number. And they were hated by all the different types of winged creatures. But they alienated themselves and did not try to become friends with the different councils of winged creatures. Especially the hawks who did not even think they were animals and who grew to political relevance on White’s farm. The bats thought that there was no use trying because nothing they did would make the other winged creatures hate them less.

The way of life of bats was very different. The other winged creatures swore that bats were not birds like they were and the mammals swore that they would rather die than be classed in the same animal group as the bats.

The bats called themselves flying creatures. But the winged creatures denied this and said the flapping of wings did not qualify to make an animal a flying creature.

"Do you deny us our identity?" The leader of the bats asked the leader of the hawks.

"Most certainly," the leader of the hawks retorted, "you have the face and lips of a mammal, we have beaks, you hang upside down, we stand straight. You have skin and fur, we have feathers.”

"But the relevant quality is not the manner of flight, but the fact of flight. You fly. We fly.  Abi? You are flying creatures. We are flying creatures.”

The leader of the hawks who was also the leader of the winged creatures spat out each time the leader of the bats spoke.

And so it came about that on the day that Dick-Tai decided to wipe out the bats once and for all, there were no winged creatures to protect them. In fact animals, mostly winged creatures, came out and looted the dead bodies of the bats that Dick-Tai killed. They celebrated. Good riddance to bad rubbish they said. And they asked why the bats were so stubborn. Why they looked weird. They said that the bats were asking for it. 

White for his part was angry that anyone would dare disrespect his farm hand. And he was silent even though it was eventually discovered that Dick-Tai actually massacred and secretly buried bats in mass graves. 

And at the end of the special meeting of winged creatures, they issued a communique stating:

We have debated the problems of winged creatures and have come to the unanimous conclusion that the only way of securing a solution is to declare that bats are not winged creatures or birds or flying creatures and that they are not even animals. They are strange beasts that deserved to be killed or banned or both. 

Of course bats were not invited to that meeting. 

Elsewhere on the farm, the leader of the crocodiles continued trying to silently seek support to take over from White as leader of the farm. 

And the worshippers of White continued their loud prayer sessions even though many slowly began to drop out of the worship sessions because of the hardship on the farm, the scarcity of water and the insecurity. 

And some farm hands of White began to harass with weapons anyone who would speak against them or against White. 

And the leader of the bats continued to be in custody with his lost eye without access to proper healthcare. 

And all the animals said it was not their business what happened to the bats.

And there was hunger and thirst and darkness and violence.


And all the while, White walked around the farm, observing, enjoying the worship songs directed at him, hands behind his back, silent.