Ogin of Nothingness – Book 1
[Social and Political History of Nigeria in a Series of Fictional Conversations.]
By Ojo, Aderemi
Book 1: Tinúbú Talks To Abíọ́lá
I anoint me
against the running,
flowing encumbrances of fat curses
that may, by nature, attend
the keen observation of my historicism;
Opinionated but intently innocuous.
May the Lord judge evil wishes soundly
And keep away all of them
The bane arrows that fly in the day
And the dreaded pestilence-
that which rides through the dark of night,
on the stolid dorsum
of a great white horse.
“What staple good is still remaining in Nigeria that has not gone wild? Everything is beyond reach. Costly! Even the bride price has gone up. The weather is cold but the economy is violently hot! Are you not feeling the heat Oga?” The second engineer asked rhetorically. He had a toolbox smothering under his left arm. His voice steeled against the whirring helicopter sounds seeping through the metal walls. A foggy breeze oozed out of his mouth when it opened and out of his nose as he drew deep breaths. The weather has been colder in August. The meteorological department had informed of a possible blizzard through September.
“Only the blood of Jesus is still affordable. It’s even free,” the first engineer chuckled. He seemed to have an accent. “You know how I greet now in French?”
He wrote in the air, “sapa bien merçi.”
Both laughed genuinely and filled the air around them with dark foggy breaths.
Boom! They were startled by mild turbulence. The cracking sounds of glitchy electricity heightened their fear. They soon realised they were stuck in the elevator and were hovering above the “eighteenth” floor of the Chocolate Building, as indicated on the dial. There are only a few floors left to the top where a cocktail is underway, organised by the coconut, maize, and cassava farmers association in honour of the flag bearer of the Active–Progressive Conglomerate party, Bọ́lá. That part of the Chocolate Building is derelict, and no one goes there —except for workmen who work on the rude disappointment they like to call an elevator still. The dereliction happened chiefly for two reasons; no one wants to climb thousands of harrowing stairs to get to work every day, and since the elevator incident that claimed some engineers’ lives, absolutely nobody has had the courage to use the elevator in spite of assurances from the contractors; Yulio Burger.
Today, however, Bọ́lá is trying to prove a point. He wishes to disprove the simultaneous rumour about botched health and old age. So he stubbornly insisted on demonstrating capacity by using the staircase to reach the top of the building.
In the centre of a cacophony, he takes the first step, the second. Three. Four… Two hundred, and he was soon on the bend towards the tenth floor when his heart began to pound hard, fast.
“Wò ó, ọmọ yìí,” he turned to one of the bodyguards. “Let me rest a little. Kindly watch the area.”
“No, sir, we cannot stay here. Members of the national press are trailing us from behind,” a female campaign team member retorted.
“Ìyá ńlá ìyá pressman!” Bọ́lá thundered. “What will they report? That I am old? Too old to climb up to twenty-four storeys of Awólọ́wọ̀’s gigantic concrete dream?”
“No sir, it’s not…I just…” came the frustrated stammer.
“Izz no, izz no what? I’ve climbed ten.”
“I mean they can be nasty sometimes and we are close to this thing we have all laboured for.”
“Ṣùkẹ̀,” Bọ́lá sniggered. He pointed at a masked guard member, “you go and watch on the floor beneath us, and when you hear any movements, rush up here and inform us.”
“Ehen, what is it?” he demanded of the petrified campaign member.
“Nothing sir, I am just wishing we had not started this at all. It was a bad idea from the beginning.”
“Gbé ẹnu rẹ sí ọ̀hún, shut your adolescent mouth. What do you know about politics? If I make it up there in one piece, we have won the undecided voters nìyẹn. That is victory. I orchestrated all of these from the beginning. Those undecided voters are the most opinionated but gullible voters in the history of all elections. Go and check. You think you are the only one with a predilection for strategic calculus for political manoeuvrabilities…”
A chorus of praise engulfed the air and even drew in the security officials. Senator! Governor! Jagaban! The sentry downstairs came running.
“What happened? Why the noise,” he inquired, hugging his Kalashnikov like a casual scullery spoon.
“What are you doing here?” Bọ́lá asks.
“I came to check the wellbeing of your security sir.”
“Will you go back to your assigned position?” he thundered.
The sentry scurried back down the stairs.
As soon as he was out of sight, Bọ́lá continued, “as I was saying, the most foolish voters are the ones that think they are intelligent. They want you to dress fancy, speak good English, jog around in shots, wear Timberland, wear a face cap, and those things. See, before you gourmandise me with the witchy eyes you are putting on me, they are correct. You must look fit. But they are not organised. That’s what I am saying. When we were fighting Abacha, I tried tirelessly to organise the intelligentsia, but the lushness of public adulation consumed them. They were too unwilling to abandon that comfort zone. But me, I cannot go and waste my political future mo yáa jápa.”
A sound of ascending footsteps interrupted the spiel. It was the sentry.
“Yes, kí ló ṣẹlẹ̀?”
“I have two pieces of news. One is bad, the other might compensate.”
“Hopefully, you don’t lose your job today.”
“Yes sir. The bad news is I heard a slow tramp from a distance and it seems it’s the press people.”
“Tosspots!” He put his hands over his temple and soothes it. Then he looks up, “you said you have two news?”
“Well then, go on with it.”
“I will suggest we use the elevator….”
He froze at the collective disapproval of his proposal. But Bọ́lá was frowning. He stood up and turned towards the flight into the heart of the building, slanting right up and disappearing into a sharp, dark corner. Then he pushed through the entourage, motioned for silence, and listened to a near chattering. He was alarmed.
“Ọ̀gbẹ́ni, I thought you said you ‘heard a slow tramp from distance’, they are right below us fool!”
“Those are the construction workers on a daily inspection of the elevator. I heard the bleeping of the elevator and I stopped it. They’re the only two on board and I have told them to stay put.”
“Finally, I have someone in my likeness. Okay, now tell me, what do I say when I get up there to the welcoming party?”
“I thought about it and we can say this is an attestation to your bravery, your enlightened trust in technology.”
“Sweet. And if I die?”
“Let’s pray you don’t sir.”
“You talk like you like me but the proposal is like a death wish.”
“I will stand on the elevator with you if that gives you inner strength.”
“Ehn, óyá lead the way.”
The sentry turned.
“Sir, you really want to do this?” asked the campaign lady.
“Consider it done.”
“That elevator is a deathly risk.”
“Death is the last thing I shall do my dear…” he suddenly stopped. “Lord Palmerston’s words. By the way, you shall have the privilege of having worked with the most accomplished politician your country has seen to this day. See you at the top. Awé, jẹ́k’alọ“
He turned and followed the sentry down the stairs.
“Yes, sir,” the first engineer said. He was elated to have been asked to accompany a likely leader of his republic. “It is working and in perfect condition.”
“No, didn’t you….” the second engineer wanted to air an observation.
“What is wrong with you, this man?” the first engineer interjected. “Bàbá, the elevator is in perfect condition.”
“No, please. Let your friend here talk,” Bọ́lá counselled.
“What I meant to say is I feel this elevator is haunted, don’t you think? Engineer?” He turned to his colleague with a puzzled mien.
“I don’t know what your problem is engineer! are you not an engineer?” came the reply.
“No, it’s like we teleported.”
“We do not have such technologies yet, you know that right? Why are you like this?”
Bọ́lá’s head, canopied in a face cap but still giving off the unmistakable mould of a wrecking ball at rest, turned in the direction of the exchange like a sole audience of an operetta. He is sucked in an ominous feeling, at once trying to independently grasp the facts of the conversation like the attentively shrewd politician he is. He looked back at the staircase and his trademark bulgy eyes like two hundred watt bulbs. Everyone in the country liked to fuss about them, and now they assume a command task of their own, scanning up the stairs and counting step by step from behind his round grandpa glasses. The counting stopped at a group of feet belonging to his crew members who had gathered to watch him grapple with his dilemma. The female crew member was smiling victoriously or gleefully. Bọ́lá didn’t know what it was, but he knew he wanted to curse. The twaddling engineers at his back, a bevy of tosspots tramping closer and closer, a gloating crew, and the impossible flights of stairs that rose to the judgement seat in heaven. It was a physical example of the devil, the deep blue, and anything worse than both. Bọ́lá sighed his frustration from between slouching shoulders, his head buried in his chest like a canon ball gathering momentum. He raised his head and contemplated on the staircase again. By then, the sentry was tiptoeing up the stairs from his latest recce.
“They are on the seventh floor,” he announced. “I suggest we leave.”
He is trying to gain composure and prove to the people that he has no fear of the pressmen hurrying up the stairs like a drag of zombies. A rat ran up the stairs and landed in a freak. Then it scurried off along the corridor. Bọ́lá’s eyes followed the rat in their full umbrage. He could now hear the footsteps of his Nemesis hurrying near, and the rat was hurrying away from the human incursion. In a split second, his nerves tinged and called in the decision. But first, he needed to know what the talkative engineers were arguing about.
“Did you say you teleported?”
“Are you not engineers?”
“Yes sir,” the first engineer assumed a parodied bearing. “Indeed we are. University of Ìbàdàn and Imperial College London. First class and distinctions respectively. In practice for ten straight years and never failed at mechanical diagnosis.”
“I see. Now I ask you, Mr Ìbàdàn and London, is there something wrong with the elevator? Because if I die….”
“Jagaban, you cannot die. You have come too far to die. It is only a glitch in the buttons; nothing is wrong with the elevator. I examined it myself.”
“Okay. I am assured by your professionalism. Do you hear the sounds of the helicopters? That’s a major endorsement I am going to get. I will become the leader of this country, and if this goes south…” he stops to think about it, changes the words in his mind, and continues. “No, it must not go south. I’m going up north. This is important. Straight up to the last floor and I exit through the roof. Can you do that?”
“Bàbá, that’s the simplest.”
Loud chuckles tore into the ninth floor from the corner, alerting the men who rushed to the elevator. Bọ́lá turned back to the hanging crew, motioned at them, and jeered in a loud whisper see you at the top! The first engineer pressed on the dial, and a shimmering line of light came on and was accompanied by a scintillating zooming sound. He turned to Bọ́lá and grinned regally. The elevator lid opened, and they walked in.
“But sir, I must warn,” the first engineer was coy.
“Yes, Mista London College.”
“It’s dark in here.”
“Yes sir, we are yet to fix that.”
“Hmm. I see. Imperious indeed.”
Lid closes. Darkness! Aloft!
There was no darkness. Bọ́lá’s was dreamy. He fears he is dead but very alive and refreshed. He looked at his normally sweaty palms. They are dry and clean. His tan was shiny with no abrasion. He examined his legs smothered in a pair of trainers. His chinos trousers were smooth. The area was lush. Much more alluring than anywhere he had been for his devotional vacation. He looked around and saw swathes and swathes of beautiful flowers. He examined himself again and hops. He felt stronger and could lift a truck at that moment.
“I am dead,” he whispered. “Very dead. I asked that twat and he assured me. Mehn if I get hold of him, I will kill him. I hope he’s dead too.”
He looked around and felt for his cap. He brings both hands to form a funnel over his mouth.
“Hello! Hellooooo! Can-anyone-heaaar-meee?” he yelled with abandon.
“Stop yelling, my friend “
Bọ́lá turned, “shoot me! What the…?”
“Say it! Say it and I slap you on the mouth,” Abíọ́lá was raising his hand.
“But what? But why am I the person to see after your demise?”
“Am I really dead? Just like that?”
“Well, I will grant that you have not yet experienced a trance.”
“Am I dead?”
“You are in a trance.”
“Trance, as in trans-continental?”
“You, Ahmed, you speak of transparency?”
“Am I in a trance to be mocked?”
“You are here to be drilled.”
“I suspect this is not heaven.”
“Of course not, there is no heaven for a Nigerian politician.”
“Look up. What’s there?”
“Does heaven have a sky?”
Bọ́lá’s face climbered down from its firmamental ascent.
“If this is not heaven, what then is it?”
“They said we are somewhere in the middle. A transitional purgatory.”
“You don’t even know the name?”
“All I know is the sun is bigger, the stars are larger and the moon is closer. So close it brushes through sometimes.”
“Awesome! Will I get to ride it?”
“If you touch any heavenly body you are stuck!”
“Exactly, you won’t go back to Nigeria.”
“People get stuck here?”
“Yes. Someone was stuck here for over fifty earth years.”
“Bẹ́ẹ̀ni. They slipped into a coma and never recovered so they were stuck here.”
“Coma. Am I in a coma?”
“No. You were summoned.”
“Yes, the Nigerian witnesses summoned you to be drilled.”
“You are talking about a drill like a borehole.”
“I’m sorry,” Abíọ́lá snapped. “I never really got around lexicography.”
Bọ́lá hung speechless and finally found his words, “you are supposed to know all things here, right?”
“Wrong! We are not omniscient. Only Allah is.”
“Interesting! I thought dead people saw and knew everything.”
“It’s an earthly superstition. We even read the newspaper here. Some managed to squeeze in their business acumen and created a smuggling plan.”
“And what do you do?”
“Me? I’m new here.”
“Are you not almost at your silver jubilee year?”
“Dante Alighieri is here if you know what that means.”
“Now, I am scared. I am really scared. Wait! Hitler?”
“No, I’ve not seen Hitler.”
“I’ve not seen him.”
“Yes! Charles D’Gaule! My man.”
“Yes, he’s here. This place is a continent on its own. Although you know almost everyone.”
“You took so long before you answered the summon.”
“I am trying to understand the summon….”
“It’s for people whose stars have become super. Who have reached the pinnacle of worldly arraignments. The tingle you felt at that floor was the delivery of the message. The elevator is the portal.”
“Fine, and I believe they should be rushing me to the hospital now.”
“Not so. But we must discuss the important stuff in your presence.”
“I was waiting to get around it; I have a cocktail party to attend,” Bọ́lá sat briefly, surveyed the area, and dropped down to a sitting position. Abíọ́lá’s eyes, more reasonably benign than those of the mortal, followed him as he sat. He seemed to be mixing something on his mind as his countenance morphed into an elderly mien. Bọ́lá looked up, “what? You don’t sit here too?”
“You do realise that your tactics are nearly as impossible as the floundering future you are crafting for a multi-religious nation?” Abíọ́lá asked.
“I am not entirely sure I understand what you are asking,” Bọ́lá retorted.
“I am entirely sure, you are entirely sure you know well that I am asking why you tossed diversity out of the window in your choices,” Abíọ́lá explained.
“Why I choose a Muslim running mate?”
“Yes, why you chose a Muslim running mate.
“Esikis sir, you speak of Muslim partnership like you are not the originator, how dare you?”
“I am not speaking to the Muslim side of it, I am speaking to the urgency of now.”
“What is the urgency of now?”
“Your Nigeria is far from what it was a quarter of a century before. Isn’t it? These days we get news coming on the wings of deep, near irreconcilable fissures sinking in the Nigerian ethos. Are you not concerned?”
“Religion and politics are separate. You should know that?”
“You need to be honest with yourself, stop the nonsense me–ism, it’s not about me? I have seen the end of the war. The dead have seen the end of life’s battle. Let’s speak to a you–ist reality. Moreover, I was refraining from plunging into the heart of the loud truth. Nigeria is no longer neutral. The ethos is corrupted. The nation and country are now directionally challenged. There are huge sectional differences that seep through to us here. Nigerians who did not bathe their eyelids in my time are presently raising hell for you. Are you pretending you cannot see the Kafkaesque metamorphosis of faith into the very prefabrication for indemnity? I hear you talk of minorities in religious contexts,” he suddenly stopped and was breathing hard.
Bọ́lá murmured inaudibly and could be seen to be suppressing a chortle. “Shall we hear you say that louder?” Abíọ́lá frowned.
“You don’t want to hear that.”
“Do I like to share in your laugh?”
“Sorry, but your fancy language seems to have become inundant….”
“I thought so. Need I remind you that there’s plenty of time to read here and more importantly you need to get serious about this?”
“Okay, okay. Izz just the smooth running of the words that impresses me.”
“And do you have anything to say about the seismic consequences of your strategic calculus for political manoeuvrability? Or whatever your talkative self called it in that portal junction?”
“What? You were…? You were listening?” Bọ́lá’s face lit up, and a brown grin inundated his face.
“You were close to the portal and Fẹlá was listening.”
“That line is from Toronto… I mean Chicago days. I will make sure to popularise it. I didn’t know it sounded so well. I am storing that immediately,” he said, feeling for something in his pocket.
“Except something to cover your nakedness, nothing comes in here.”
“Oh! Erm, okay. Now that I think of it, why do you have clothes here in this ìkọ̀lé ayé and ìkọ̀lé ọ̀run chasm?”
“It belongs to the fallen man. The garden of Eden is still above us. Can we get back to business?”
“Oh, I was thinking you would not ask me what my option is, Sir Guruji. This is not the way it is. Need I remind you that Nigeria has a foundation that trumps religion? History is the superior authority over all of us. Don’t you think so?”
“I believe you are going somewhere.”
“Yes, indeed and I shall get to it fast. See,” Bọ́lá rose to a standing posture and held out his hands like he had an angry confession. “I am furious at those contumacious Christians who keep pedalling the mills of unfounded alarms. First of all, I should be the last person, in fact, every moderate out there, to be suspected of Islamist slant..”
“You believe…” Abíọ́lá interrupted.
“Let me finish!” Bọ́lá countermanded.
“Okay, finish. But I just….”
“Let-me-finishhh!” Bọ́lá spaced the words to a sibilant finish.
“It’s a point of information.”
“Okay. Since you would not allow me….”
“The moderates are thinning out. The Islamists are becoming bolder and strong. A jihadist fantasy is becoming fashionable. I just wanted you to know. I am not sure you are conscious of this.”
“Let me finish and we can introduce that.”
“Alright, please finish.”
“Now I have lost my train of thought. Are you happy now?”
“I hear they say you are old.”
“Ará ọ̀run, respect yourself.”
“Okay, okay. You are young and youthful. How about that?”
“Your theory of jihadist fantasy is alien to my corner of the country. No such thing has been able to make inroads in the West. Our education is solid.”
“That’s where you are wrong. It is the societal ethos. We have lived with Islam just as long as anyone else in West Africa.”
“Yes, I read something around it and I wonder what the origin of the simpering credo of the north side about our practice is from. They seem to have a superiority delusion. So much some of their influential scholars mistake Islam for medievalism. Well, they love me and that’s what matters.”
“I am not sure you should be certain about that. But talking about medievalism. The British are an oddity on the face of your world. They just took everything and left the lands bare. They did nothing. Lord Lugard had the chance to crush the cobra head of medievalism. He could have initiated a different character edge in the region since the caliphate’s fall. But he was just blithering rapacious.
“Islam is contiguous in both places. The difference is the so-named jihad of recent times. After that, everything went south. Sorry, north! I am not sure which way,” Bọ́lá brooded loudly.
There was silence. Bọ́lá was brooding over something. Abíọ́lá watched him and wanted to concede some space.
“You are trying to remember….”
“Shhh!” Bọ́lá sibilated with a wagging finger. “Yes! I remember now.”
“Promise me you would not interrupt me this time?”
“We don’t make promises here.”
“Alright, alright. I promise not to interrupt your wobbly thoughts.”
“I was talking about the contumacy of some Christian rads. And I was going to establish the history of the….”
“Sorry Ahmed, is contumacy the right noun?”
“They are disobedient to their leader?”
“It’s the Jonathan effect. There were contumacious Muslims too.”
“And they are paying dearly for it.”
“Are you not paying dearly for instigating it yourself?”
“You promised not to interrupt.”
“Yes until you use the wrong noun and adjective. It’s dangerous. Okay go on.”
“This din about my politics is inconsiderate and arrogant. I will tell you why. And I’m sorry I have to use figures in this context. In 1913/14, Nigeria’s religious demography was 25% Muslim, under 9% Christian and 66% “others.” That was Lugard’s, I mean British estimate. Forty years later, in 1963, our census found that 47% of the population was Muslim, 34% Christian, and 18% other. In the present day, that demographic data sways unsteadily between 50-50 and something close.”
“I take it that religion is the oxygen the average Nigerian breaths, and that has found a way to shape politics, and that’s why you should….”
“You ará ọ̀run cannot allow a simple analysis to run through? I should what? Jettison an ambition I have gently nursed for decades?”
“There are times when that is an inescapable sacrifice.”
“And that time is not my time. I will rule that country and I will rule it thoroughly.”
“I do not doubt that possibility….”
“Ará ọ̀run, calm down.”
“I was in your shoes, and like you, I created a monster that consumed my….”
“Which monster did I create?”
“The disaster in your capital city? How much help has that done? I have also installed disasters and I reaped it in full. It reaped me, I guess.”
“I am not in practical, political, immediate or remote awareness of any disservice I have done. You sir, you installed juntas. You dined with the devil but you naively did so with a short spoon, an iron spoon. The devil’s minions simply electrified the dish and you were soundly fried.”
“I may have funded coups and all, but it was for the greater good. I also funded….”
“You also funded Museveni,” Bọ́lá stood akimbo. He had stung Abíọ́lá to a brief silence. Sufficient enough to deliver his pent-up jab. “M.K.O., listen. Let us take a chronological view of the tango between politics and faith. And how that tango tapered from the very surface through the flesh, and now creasing the carapace, of the Nigerian polity. So much so, I concede, the vicious suspicion between the two faiths has become so tense that the religion of a person can disqualify that person from holding an elective position. With me, that will change, and that’s why I am going through with this, no matter what it takes. There are examples I wish to show you. I have numbered them and rehearsed them for a smooth delivery at the pastor’s conference I am planning to hold before December. Are you listening?”
“Yes I am, please go ahead. I am with you.”
“I have numbered them for easy chronology. I have memorised it too. Now listen. Closely, please.
Case study number one was in 1959 when A.T. Balewa was elected Prime Minister, and his minister for finance was F. Okotie-Eboh. Hardly was religion a matter in that arrangement. It was more of a party merger. Do you agree?”
“That requires little thought,” Abíọ́lá shrugged.
“Yes or no?”
“By the way, the British were in charge and it meant that the Christians were in charge.”
“That’s ridiculous. You call the British Christians? Is that it?” Abíọ́lá asked.
“Yes, isn’t it?” Came the inquisitive response.
“If you fancy the British as Christians, then I am Jesus Christ. They were horribly depraved, lacking even the tiniest shred of Christian virtues. Àwọn olè alátẹjúmọ́.”
“But you people were saying they evangelised the country, whittled down the warring power of the tribes and entered on their conquest.”
“They funded that school of thought. Didn’t you?”
“I don’t remember that. Neither do I recall the British needing to distribute Bibles for colonial entry. They had a war machine.”
“It probably was not strong enough, so they sent the missionaries forward.”
“I feel like slapping you with the back of my hands right now.”
“Aha! Why? This is a widely accepted school of thought in African academia.”
“I don’t feel alright about this. Is this the garbage the academia is feeding to the youngsters passing through those schools? And you wonder why the threat to your ticket is religion in lieu of competence?”
“But there is a semblance of truth in that idea. They sent the missionaries who established schools and then spread the faith so it weakened the resistance of the tribes.”
“Shut up!” Abíọ́lá bellowed. “Gbé gbogbo ẹnu rẹ sí ọ̀hún this man. Did they need that to run over India or Sudan? Did they distribute the Bible in Sokoto to colonise the empire?”
“Ah! I don’t deserve this umbrage. It’s not a personal thing. These are just stuff that seep into the mainstream. I did not invent them.”
“I suggest you get on with your superfluous stories.”
“Don’t frown at me. We are all in this. Stop pretending ọgá. I am sure you swallowed the idea when you were campaigning for reparations. I don’t have the exact facts, but you can not deny it. Or do you? Do you deny it? Deny it!” Bọ́lá stretched an index finger to the sky.”
Abíọ́lá recoiled in the face of the individual ganging up and sighed. “I don’t. Are you satisfied now?”
“Good. Case study number two is in 1963, when N. Azikiwe, a Christian became President and his de facto Vice President – by constitutional arrangement – was Nwafor Orizu, another Christian. Not one dog barked. Do you agree?”
“Great Zik was a trifling Christian. Almost a deist.”
Bọ́lá turned to the ará òrun and shook his head in a taunt, “go tell an aboki that one. Politically, there are either Christians or Muslims in Nigeria. Even atheists are doomed to a choice between those two. Finito.”
“And every Fulani is a Muslim in the same way every Igbo is a Christian,” Abíọ́lá laughed out loud. “I once thought about it and almost caused a major embarrassment for myself. It was at a grip-and-grin session in Stara Zagora. I was already shaking hands with the patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church when that freaking humour came to my head and I started giggling. I was relieved when everyone started laughing too. Even though they were not able to get the reason for my laughter. You know, I just donated dollars to them. So they had to laugh with me.”
Bọ́lá giggled mildly and waited for Abíọ́lá to overcome his happy reflex before delivering his close-up shot.
“Were you also thinking of the Wahabist thought you funded into a mainstream sway?”
Abíọ́lá was silent, with embarrassment.
“Case number three…”
“Oh yeah, go ahead,” Abíọ́lá answered before wiping his eyes with the back of his hand.
“When the inchoate Nigerian democracy was terminated by the J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi junta in 1966, his de facto deputy was B. Ogundipe. Both were Christians.”
“Yes, that’s true. I was in the NCNC then. That’s true. One was Catholic or so. Yes, that’s true.”
“Case study number four: that same year, Y. Gowon toppled the government and J.E.A. Wey was his deputy. Both were Christians. Isn’t that true?”
“Yes, Admiral Wálé. He was the quiet one. No traces of him at all in the country’s history.”
“Case study number five. the M.R. Muhammed junta that forced out Gowon in ’75, was deputised by O. Ọbásanjọ́. A Muslim and a Christian.”
“Correct, the third man was a Christian too.”
“Now this is an interesting case. In ’76 Muhammed was killed, Ọbásanjọ́ became head of state and bypassed T.Y. Danjuma to make S.M. Yar’adua deputy. A Christian and a Muslim. But it was more of a regional arraignment. If Yar’adua had been Christian, not one dog would have barked.”
“No, not true. The Muslims were already seething with some feelings. It was a global inferno at a flickering stage. If Yar’adua was a Christian, they might have chosen someone else. Danjuma, a much more senior officer, and Yar’adua were from the same region. Isn’t it? So it’s a faith-based arrangement.”
“I will take your wisdom. But hopefully, you are following my lead.”
“I believe I know where you are going but continue.”
“But do you?”
“Like I mentioned, only God is omniscient.”
“Let’s continue. Democracy was restored in ’79 with the duo S.U. Shagari and A. Ekuweme as President and Vice President respectively. One Christian, one Muslim.”
“Now this case study is a confirmation of the genetic testing of Nigeria’s consideration for religion in political choices even when they breathe it like oxygen as you said.”
“Alright, let’s hear it.”
“The military returned in ’83 with M. Buhari and B. Idiagbon as ruler and co-ruler. The first Muslim-Muslim presidency. Not one dog barked.”
“You and dog pun are like five and six.”
“This is where I am going.”
“I can guess already.”
“In ’85, I.B. Babangida toppled the Buhari junta. A. Aikhomu, a Christian, was de facto deputy. Now listen,
“I am,” Abíọ́lá grunted.
“When he was leaving in ’93, there was already a substantive President-elect. Ahan, do you know his name?”
Abíọ́lá was mute.
“His name?” Bọ́lá said, wiggling his waist. “Izz Heemu…! Kaay…! Hoo! Abíọ́lá. M.K.O Abíọ́lá. You and Vice President B. G. Kingibe. The second Muslim-Muslim pairing for the highest offices. And coincidentally, it is the elephaaant! in the room at present! What do you have to say to that? Ará ọ̀run? Humph?”
Abíọ́lá was not flabbergasted. But, he was not sure it would do to casually dispel the crowing of the opinionated politician on the trail of his smug histrionics, however, irritated he felt.
“You have nothing to say about it,” I guess.
“What do you want to hear me say about it, Ahmed? I am concerned about the consequences of this whole thing of yours. You don’t know the pressure that would come out of this deal. The intoxications and temptations of power.”
“Ará ọ̀run, nothing will come out of it. Nothing came out of it with you.”
“Because I am a moderate. There are demands that would be made of you and that you cannot keep refusing if you want to maintain your Muslim base, do you know?”
“Ará ọ̀run hold on a second,” Bọ́lá pleaded.
“You have to always call me that?”
“But you are very dead.”
“Is that mockery or honour?”
“Honour, sincerely. Honour.”
“Alright, speak,” the ará ọ̀run endorsed with a pitch of acceptance.
“People see you as a moderate. I am more moderate than you.”
“Yes, it is. I have refrained from questioning your fitness to dress me down, but I now feel the need for a spar with uncomfortable truths. I have never supported or lent opinions on a Sharia Court on Yorùbá soil, which I consider superfluous. Even the consideration of a debate around it is unnecessary fanatism. But you did to the ugly rouse of a sleeping dog.
“Here we go, dog again,” Abíọ́lá grunted.
“Ẹ wòó, ẹ fimílẹ̀,” Bọ́lá flinched.
“Keep going, sorry,” Abíọ́lá urged apologetically.
“Of course, I will. And here’s another one. I did not lend my weight to the entrenchment of the republic in any international Islamic organization. You did. With so much enthusiasm that in retrospect, I now think you are a fanatic,” Bọ́lá accused as his hand went over his mouth and a frown washed over his face. He did not believe what he had just said, but he was looking to turn the table around and throw the late into a defence position. He has learnt and perfected the self-indulging art of forcing his opponent on a guilt trip. But Abíọ́lá was a master of the art itself and would not fall for it. He took the shot but deflected it comically, as he did other shots afterwards.
“Yet I built churches and met Christian religious leaders across the world?”
“Yes, and you were the husband of plenty of women,” Bọ́lá quipped.
“And you are the husband of but one wife. Bravo! Now tell me, are you running for the office of a bishop or the office of an elected leader of a republic? I was told your wife is a pastor. A pastor!” Abíọ́lá laughed. “I sometimes wish I could have stayed longer. Yes, although I am wiser now. Calmer and temperamentally amiable. But still, I wish I could gaze on this kind of your world. How funny it has become. Ugly but funny.” He stopped and turned to Bọ́lá with a binding concentration. “You don’t know what the portrait of a fanatic looks like. It is definitely not mine. I was the husband of plenty of women. That is not the way of a fanatic, I guess. A fanatic would at least be cautious and limit it to four. Then divorce one to marry another. I did not divorce anybody. I was accumulating, expanding, and increasing. Ọlọ́hun gbọ́, I wanted to make a presidential baby if not for what happened, you know?”
“Are you sure you did not try?” Bọ́lá was waxing insouciant.
“What do you mean by that?” Abíọ́lá wanted to know.
“Oh, we were told in NADECO that they planted a camera in the room when she visited you in jail.”
“Awuzubilai! That’s a lie. They could never have been that debased,” Abíọ́lá said with his face flagrantly aghast.
“It’s what one of our boys in the heart of the regime told us,” Bọ́lá confirms.
“Ògún ló maa pa Abacha,” Abíọ́lá thundered. “What swinish character are these?”
“Well, Ògún did not kill Abacha, a pornstar did.”
“I heard it’s not true.”
“We do not know of any other truths. The man cannot be trusted to have died by other means. He was a serial philanderer. And of the universal type. So they arranged for the importation of the freshest assortment of his perversive smatch. Fortunately for everyone else but unfortunately for only him and the leeches that fed off his maniacally, there are not royal tasters for such cuisines,” Bọ́lá said with his shoulder shrugging in self-satisfaction at the misfortune of the late, despotic adversary of his republic. “By the way, have you seen him?”
“You think if I’d seen him, I would not have kicked his groyne with my patella?”
“He’s not here?”
“He’s not here.”
“Wow. Inalilahi wahina lilahi rajiun.”
There was silence for a moment. Both seemed to have had a mouthful to swallow. It was a temporary intermission. Abíọ́lá was looking far into the distant, nonexistent horizon in this ìkọ̀lé ayé and ìkọ̀lé ọ̀run nothingness. He looked at Bọ́lá, who seemed to be already forming a habit of his brooding.
“I concede that the republic has seen better days. But I am perplexed by your overtly simplistic deconstruction. Those are great days. But they are also days gone by. And, if it helps, you cannot wish it back into being good in one revolutionary swoop. Wishful thinking, I know, and I know you know, is no testament to one’s political industry. Listen, religion was not a basis for diversity in my days. It is different now. I was told you people now refer to yourselves as a race.”
“Is that how desperate your political and religious leaders are now? You racialise religion. How phony.”
“You… Your! See, the way you you–ise everything is touching on my nerves.”
“It’s your baby. It’s not mine to coddle.”
“You are Yorùbá, child nursing is a community duty.”
“Allahu akbar! We are not in Yorùbá land. And there is no tribe in death.”
“Still, I’m not the only one involved.”
“But only you and I are here right now?”
“You ará ọ̀run are an impossible people.”
“How many ará ọ̀run have you encountered? Or have you been sneaking into purgatory before now?”
“Nah. But you said there’s a Nigerian family here. How come you say there is no tribe in death? And how come you were selected to speak with me?”
“This part of the universe recognises individuals as well as nation-states of the human world. The state is man writ large against the sky. Man has algorithms. I was chosen because only my algorithm fits a required concomitance. Only I can authorize your summon and only I can exercise access to you if your summon is effective. Others can neither see nor hear you.”
“Interesting. Like user interface?”
“Yes, backend and frontend. I logged in to your portal.”
“More like you hacked my algorithm.”
“Hack. No. Well, yes. Ethical hacking. You know you should not accuse an ará ọ̀run.”
“What has changed? What information have you gathered from your ethical hackings?”
“About the republic?”
“A lot. Fundamentalist thought has gained real expression almost everywhere.”
“The thoughts you funded so well.”
“If the British had acted on it when they had the chance, I would not have….”
“You blame the British. Do you know what they did in Arabia? How they whipped up fanatics and gave them guns to defeat the moderates. You feel they had the brains for the futuristic engineering of society. By the way, I think it is sickening to stress on British rule. We have had our destiny in our hands for years and we still haven’t made any meaningful use of it.”
“You are not wrong. At least, not entirely. But if you have an impossible situation thrust into your hands, how do you negotiate your way out of it. It is a quagmire of fundamentalisms that the British refused, wickedly, to undo. It is impossible to forge anything heterogeneous out of a medievalist conservatism. You keep patching and patching. And at a point, the material is tired but in need of more patching. Atatürk heard the alarms of history blaring near and rose up to confront it. Hate them or like them, the Americans got many things right in Germany and Japan after the war. In a strive with fundamentalisms, success is an impracticable result when you pour fresh wine into an old…” he suddenly stopped. “You know the poetic irony in this?”
“Wait, complete that sentence. It’s philosophical.”
“Let us first be philosophical.”
“Hmm! Interesting. Let us first be philosophical,” Abíọ́lá grunted with his chin raised in an intended academic mimicry. “Even that is philosophical. In a strive with fundamentalism, success is an impracticable result if you pour fresh wine into an old wine skin. You must overhaul the structure of society, replace the old with the new, then a brave new world can be built on the smouldering ash heap of the old lecherous past.”
“Óyá sing your purgatory poem. Or should I say requiem?” Bọ́lá laughed.
“For your fundamentalists, wine humour would taste flat and irritate them into a ragmatical frenzy. Even sanguinary. I mean if they could attack beer with so much alacrity, what would they do to wine?”
“Yes, beer. Someone seems to delight in breaking beer bottles as a pastime. In my days – I hope you would not mind now that you have established peerage by age – but no one thought about such ultra purist tendencies. At least not loudly.”
“Well, you have a point M.K.O.”
“I know I do.”
“It’s a fair assessment and I think you should just take the compliment!”
“My time was a different time. That’s for beer. It seems mankind is more prurient than I had imagined. Especially the Nigerian mankind. You seem overly obsessed with the vagina to the point of veneration. So much you make moral laws and commit so much time and resources to survey vaginal movements, studying its fluxes from place to place. Marketplace, farms, schools… What has come over that republic?”
Bọ́lá could not suppress that. He burst into ruckus laughter and collapsed into the succulent grass beneath, rolling and shaking energetically. He motioned to Abíọ́lá to stop.
“Sto…stop-puhehehehe!” he tried to say, but the word was extinguished by a long fart that blew out from under. A shorter fart and a brief cough stabilised him.
Abíọ́lá was unperturbed. He simply waited for the bout to be over and said, “you are really an imp.”
“What? No, it’s your fault.”
“We get horrid news of Islamic terrorist attacks on a daily basis. Your Boko Haram”
“My Boko haram?”
“I was a Muslim too, remember? I was. I mean I am. I don’t know what description fits here.”
“Don’t you do your solat anymore?”
“Where is the qibla direction? There’s no Mecca here. Certainly no Kaaba. No compasses. We don’t pray here. We simply wait.”
“But M.K.O, why should my ambition be besieged?”
“You are now asking the right questions. To which, I am aware, you have an answer.”
“Can you please explain my answer for me?”
“It is the Islamist awakening. Erroneously, many Muslims thought it a shift in service of the faith. But no. It is a satanic deception. A strategy that has put the faith to its greatest test since the cave of Hira till this present day and time. Each time you find a mouthy mullah yelling passionately about an unrecognisable decadence in the Islamic world, you would feel passion for him and probably listen more. That is where the error is introduced. But if you are a moderate mind, he would quickly lose you because they won’t stop. They must create victimhood, an appeal to emotions. There is no decadence. They are nothing but alarmists with motives. Hear this. They begin to introduce new theories. Blasphemous theories and condemnations of the great patriarchs who have made the sustenance of the faith possible through the centuries. There is a consistent pattern that has endured. Sadly, it has worked too.
Women are the first target at the nascent stage of this lunacy. They talk about women having to stay at home. About public regulatory practices in Islamist fashion. About how man has his laws and how Allah has his own laws. They pervert the laws of God in relation to parenthood. They assume the authority over the conscience of the young. Finally, they misquote the Al-Maida and, with it, delegitimise the authority of any person in government who is not a Muslim. You should have noticed; the world should have understood this is a gimmick to pave the way for themselves into power. But the world wants to be deceived and should learn from its own scars. So has been it. Now watch them, watch as they begin the next phase of their thorough deception.
They begin a political mobilisation in a modified version of organising. Not unlike the following you have across the republic. They, when they become powerful enough to sustain casualties and still keep on, launch a criminal enterprise and call it jihad! Codified in a wayward manifesto. Not one, not two. But several simultaneous groups claim vicarious authority on behalf of Allah. But imagine well-known thugs, street urchins, and drifters by choice becoming clerics and ordering thousands to explosive deaths. They themselves murder in God’s name and dedicate this orgiastic gore to the divine. Principally, the uncooperative moderate Muslims, together with the local Christian population, have been the target. When the sanguinary had entered a competitive stage, it was a matter of who could kill more. The Islamist awakening did not rouse only Muslim adherents, it roused a Christian response to your supposed innocuous ambitions. Do you understand the nexus, Ahmed?”
Bọ́lá sighed so heavily that he skipped a breath.
“I do. But what is my task? All of these are not my fault.”
“Ehn?” Bọ́lá screeched.
“It’s just a joke. I know you are heady and will not have that.”
“Of course, I won’t. Never! Ah!” Bọ́lá folded his arms across his chest.
“It’s not your fault. But it is your responsibility to fix the mess from your belief system.”
“Those are fringe elements, not faith.”
“Fringe elements. But they have thrown the Christians into a defensive position? I didn’t need rented bishops in my time.”
“They are not rented bishops.”
“Oh, they are Reverend Bishop Donatus? Of the Donation Church of the Saints?”
“Everyone takes donations. It’s not a problem.”
“Are you sure you have no problem?”
“Created by the fringe elements. Seeing the fringe elements is all it takes. There was this saying in madrasa in those days. Wànwà kọ́ leyín àlùfáà, bó bá ti lè gbé mọ́sà, ó ti tó. The mallam does not need complete teeth, once the scanty dentition he has can grip mọ́sà and hold its own, that’s enough. The implication of that saying can either be positive or negative. You asked about Hitler. How many people did he use to destroy the world of his time? The Taliban is less than five per cent of the Pashtun ethnicity. Combine all the terrorist sects of the world with the radical Islamists of any country. They cannot reach twenty per cent of the ummah. But the rest of the eighty to eighty-five per cent, what have they done to rein in the fringe elements? Is it not that they rise in their defence and condemnations until everything successfully gets confusing. Those who would not murder in real life will defend the murder of someone who allegedly insulted Prophet Mohammed’s (SAW) honour. They start to theorise about murder. If the table is turned around, what would you do yourself? Won’t you want to stay safe? We must fear God before we demand cooperation from the victims of our mistakes.”
“But they acknowledge my neutrality. The sensible ones are not bothered about my faith.”
“So why did you choose a Muslim if you are not bothered about your own faith?”
“I am a politician. I will do everything to win.”
“Including disregarding the sensibilities that have been fanned to life and justifiably so?”
“My mission is to correct the anomalies.”
“No, your mission is clearly personal. And that’s to become the leader of the republic. You made that clear already.”
“But M.K.O., mo deserve kiní yìí now. I deserve it. I risked my life for this country. I fought hard and even ran into exile. I should be given a chance. I deserve it. I raised people, I sponsored their success. I lent my influence to the emergence of stars who would never have been known if they did not meet me. I identified them and raised their stature.”
“Pẹ́lẹ̀ ẹ̀, Mista Forklift. See? Just hear yourself. Do you also realise that if everyone who did the same, including me, thought like you, the list will not reach you till you are ninety?”
“But the reality is I’m here now and no one of them came forth. I was telling one of those garrulous members of my team how everyone fled to enjoy the comfort of public adulation after you passed over to a permanent residence here. I saw the opportunity and I jumped at it. Is it my fault they were not there to challenge me? If they like, let them call me octopus, I will flash my tentacles and keep grabbing and sucking. It is my turn to rule the republic.”
Abíọ́lá shook his head but said nothing for a while. He knew from the start that he would not convince a change. He was only hoping to compel as much conscientiousness in the cynical head of his lookalike—the algorithms say. Finally, he found his words.
“Our duty is to remind you of the realities that stare you in the face but are unable to see with eyes blinded by your desire for power. Look unto Egypt, perhaps. But there is no definite answer. History is a great teacher but it is not enough. Unfortunately, that is all we have. We can only have this conversation with you from the lens of our experience. To give vitality to your thinking. Times change as it must. It is why the ancients have so much to offer them of the future. I wish history would repeat itself in the exact manner it had happened. Our advantage is that we do not have those encumbrances anymore. It is why you were summoned. That, we have learnt and perfected.”
“You have no authoritative advice for me?”
“No, sorry. Only God is omniscient. We have only separated you from the noisy world, away from the pleasure of arrogance. So we can make you see things under the reality of nothing. You have nothing, therefore you are vulnerable and humbled. As you were that day you were born.”
“But I have my clothes.”
“You do. The illusion of dignity is alive and well in this ogin of nothingness.”
“I see. This is interesting.”
“Yes, and boring too.”
“How much longer do I have to stay?”
Abíọ́lá laughed, “a mortal desires home.”
“I am just worried the elevator would have reached the top floor. And by now, my other would be on the helicopter whirring towards Lagos for an onward trip to London. Not good for the political industry, is it?”
“Or your enemies would be smiling in the morgue to gaze upon their Nemesis.”
Bọ́lá was struck with terror, “that’s not funny at all. I don’t like that nonsensical joke.” He removed his cap and replaced it anxiously. He was furious but more terrified. Much more terrified. More than anger, he felt patent terror. “You brought me here to kill me! To murder me. You could have told me from the beginning. How will it be reported? Those churches will turn me into a prayer point. That’s not smooth. I want to go back now!” He had begun to scream his lungs out. Now the anger was gaining momentum and emulating his terror. Both emotions were palping him all over.
All the while, Abíọ́lá was watching in smug sadism.
“A mortal does not wish to die.”
Bọ́lá moved closer to him, “ará òrun talked to me. Has something…”
“Ará ayé calm down,” Abíọ́lá said sharply to the perspiring politician. “Time is frozen when you are in this dimension.”
Bọ́lá suddenly stopped fidgeting, “you didn’t mean the whole thing?”
“It’s dark humour.”
“Are you kidding?”
“Nope. Dark humour is a pastime here.”
“So nothing is happening in that elevator right now?”
“Nope. We are not empowered to kill. We have no way of killing a mortal. We just wait out his days with him.”
“This is silly.”
“No, it’s not. It’s marvellous. All of this nothingness you see weighs less than the lightest thing in your world. You can hold it at your fingertip. All of it. Again, here we don’t kill. We wait for you to join us. Waiting is our biggest weapon. We don’t wither here. We remain pristine in a state of permanence. A blink and it’s all over. You won’t remember any of this. It is not for your mind to grapple. But we have ingrained in your consciousness an interpretation of the trance.”
“Like copy and paste?
“Something more advanced. Into the language of your system.”
“So I won’t remember I saw you?”
“You would. In your meditations. In your quietude. You would. If you meditate.”
“I can go back to the elevator now?”
“It is nice to see you again.”
“Do your palms still sweat?
“Yes, they do. I said it’s nice to see you again.”
“We are not allowed to be emotional.”
“You can say it back.”
“It was nice to see you again,” Abíọ́lá feigned a mechanical voice. “Oh! By the way, Fẹlá is here. He did not want anything to do with us. He’s a little more elevated than the politicians and he’s still angry.”
“About his republic?”
Abíọ́lá was a little confused, “no. Yes, if you mean the real republic, not his marijuana paradise he calls a republic. About that, he’s angry. And also about the production of bad news, you people tirelessly keep milling.”
“I thought death beats all.”
“Only God beats all things. Did you not hear Saro-Wiwa speak prophetically about a struggle post mortem?”
“If you ever survive the elections – with or without rigging – you shall not leave the house as dishevelled as you met it. It is the will of the post mortem diaspora.”
“Are you going to tell other candidates that? Or is this an endorsement?”
“It is not for you to know what we shall tell others. And this is not an endorsement.”
“Okay, tell everyone I said hello.”
Abíọ́lá shook his head, “it’s time to go, mortal.”
“Tell everyone I love them,” Bọ́lá blew kisses in the air.
“Oní’bodè! I command you. Activate the extraction of this mortal annoyance, immediately!”
Bọ́lá froze in expectation of a windy thrust out of ìkọ̀lé ayé and ìkọ̀lé ọ̀run nothingness. He waited for a second or two, and when nothing was happening, he loosened up. Abíọ́lá was looking confused. He uttered the command again.
“Oní’bodè! I command you. Activate the extraction of this mortal annoyance, immediately!”
Silence. Freeze. Nothing.
“Not working?” Bọ́lá laughed at the late.
“You have not any idea what this portends,” the late said sharply.
“What?” Bọ́lá asked in a panic.
“Oní’bodè! I command you. Activate extraction, immediately!”
A cantankerous whirlwind appears, brimming with fury, and plunks down on Bọ́lá. His courage melts as the rotational force of Oní’bodè‘s windy messenger suffocates him. He struggles for breath. He is scooped up and tossed noisily onto a ready wind surface that holds him in position. Abíọ́lá looks on like a fastidious scientist. It needs some perfecting, he thought.
“I know what you are thinking,” Bọ́lá yells as Oní’bodè tosses him from side to side. “It doesn’t need perfecting. It’s awesome.”
Oní’bodè achieves stability and an unthinkably telemetric spin. Bọ́lá sits comfortably. The wind straightens and takes off to the trail of the rider, Bọ́lá, screaming I love youuuuu!
Light. Darkness. Aloft!
Part V –Finale
The elevator jerked into another turbulence. It had been a few seconds, and it had reached the top of the tower. There was now darkness. Palpable darkness that even Bọ́lá’s bulbs had to strain to glimpse the next object, a few inches away. The elevator sharply opened and disgorged the four men. More like it roughly ejected them like a spluttering from the mouth. It closed and went its way like it had assumed unprogrammed automation.
Still, the first engineer was insistent on the science of everything. He had even asked if he should delay the elevator. Bọ́lá had said not to worry.
“I see you are no superstitious man,” Bọ́lá asked him. “But that elevator needs to be decommissioned.”
“See? I told you….” the second engineer was elated.
“Òdẹ̀, Bàbá said decommissioned. Not a spiritual diagnosis,” the first engineer replied.
“You are an intelligent person, although I have only known you for a few minutes.”
Bọ́lá noticed the second engineer was grinning. “Not you,” he flipped his hands and pointed to the first engineer. “Him. You. Do you like to be part of my advisory team? There are one or two things you can do with us.”
“Gladly, sir, I would like to advise you.” His smile was sheepish, and he was glancing sideways at the second engineer. The sentry was also giving a thumbs up. It was the only congratulating gesture that could have been mustered since his face was wrapped in full cotton masks.
Bọ́lá was briefly withdrawn from the quadripartite conference. He removed his visored cap and dabbed the whole thing with his handkerchief all the way down to the neck and replaced his glasses. He was seriously trying to recall the pictorial episode from the black room. Briefly, he paced across the corridor, repeatedly drawing his index finger across his mouth like the wagging tail of a rattlesnake. I saw Abíọ́lá, didn’t I? I saw him. I did. I was with him. The elevator. The elevator.
“Erm engineer,” he called out to the first engineer. “I wish to take another ride in that elevator.”
“Sir I suggest we wait for the rest of the crew,” the sentry urged. “I believe they shouldn’t be far away.”
“I understand that. But I can make it back before they get here. Isn’t it? He turned to the first engineer.
“Yes sir, but as your new technical advisor, I will counsel we wait for the team and after the party, you can swing by for a ride…Your Exshellency.”
“Wait, where are you from?” Bọ́lá asked the first engineer.
“Ọ̀ṣun, Your Exshellency sir. Ìkirè precisely.”
“Ìkirè,” Bọ́lá laughed. “You called me something just now. Do you mind repeating?”
“You mean, Your Exshellency?“
Everyone slid into laughter.
“Oh, my accent. I have tried everything to correct it. It has refused to go.”
“Ọ̀ṣun, of stubborn voters.”
He fell silent. So did everyone. The chant of a crowd was reaching them from below. Bọ́lá looked around as if to ask what was going on in the basement. The sentry appeared again from his routine security check.
“Sir..” the sentry gasped.
“It’s the pirate boys. They are jesting.”
“Why are they that many?”
“I can’t say, sir. They seem to be in some ritual procession.”
“What are they saying? Can you make sense of it?”
“Not that I…” the sentry was jittery.
“Sing the bloody song damnit!”
The sentry stood upright, slung his Kalashnikov with accustomed dignity and stretched out his hands, waving like the leader of an orchestra. As he clowned along, the anxious audience listened to him clear his throat and burn the tune down to a lyrical skeleton.
End of Book 1
© Ojo, Aderemi