By Aba Saheed
Aba Saheed is back in full swing and with a bang. I am compelled to resume and resuscitate my Aba Saheed column and relive the life begun 50 years ago. No holds barred and all those who have contributed to make Nigeria a hell for all of us are going to have a date with hell. It does not matter whether their heads are as big as the rhinoceros’ and their nostrils as large as sewage pipes; I am going to lampoon them with the vigour of a 27-year old.
Let me first pay tribute to distinct and distinguished Satirists of yore. Those who popularized the art and science of calling your mother a thief and you still clap for them in appreciation because you really did not understand that your mother has been pilloried by their pen.
I salute Aristophanes [444BC-385 BC], Geoffrey Chaucer [1343- 1400], François Rabelais [1494-1553], Moliere [1622-1680], Jonathan Swift [1667-1745], Voltaire [1694-1778], Jane Austen [1775-1817], Nicolai Gogol [1809-1852], Samuel Butler [1835-1902], Mark Twain [1835-1910], Ambrose Bierce [1842-1914], Oscar Wilde [1854-1900], Anton Chekov [1860-1904], Lu Xun [1881-1936], my own Franz Kafka [1883-1924], Kurt Tucholsky [1890-1935], George Orwell [1903-1950], Evelyn Waugh [1903-1966], Kurt Vonnegut [1922-2007], and my Oga Sad Sam [Sam Amuka-Pemu, 1935-].
Now, let us start with the tale of Emperor Julius Caesar and his last day in the Roman Capitol. William Shakespeare gave us a perfect picture [Julius Caesar, Act lll, Scene l] and got Casca to speak to us in a coded message. Casca didn’t say ‘draw out your daggers’. No, he called for hands, as if he was calling for claps!
All the Senators, including the highly rated Brutus were on their knees begging the ‘Almighty’ Caesar to reconsider his stand on national issues, specifically concerning the banishment of Metellus Cimber’s brother. And Caesar, who was fond of addressing himself in the third person, haughtily rebuffed their plea saying that only little men were moved by pleas and cries.
After all entreaties failed, as they always do in front of people who are power-drunk and dead of human feelings, Casca called on his colleague-Senators to strike, ending with Brutus’ last strike, which sent Caesar tumbling down with his famous ‘Et tu Brute!?’.
I am however not interested in what happened to Caesar and what his stiff-neck and inimitable arrogance and condescension brought on him. The story merely flew in my imagination as I saw in my vision what happened recently in the country of the Deaf, the Blind and the Dumb ruled by a leader fondly called Gongoliera Sosoliso. It was not a funny story. It was by far worse than that of the imperial Caesar of Rome.
There was famine in the land. All the citizens and non-citizens of Gbewiri, a swampy but mineral rich island off the eastern coastline of Aprika had been reduced to a fifth of their original size and body weight with eyes sunk and bellies distended. Poverty was written on everybody’s face. Nobody in that community remembered what the word laughter meant. The only people who had the stolen privilege to smile and laugh were the crop of vagabonds and treasury looters who held the reins of power.
For years, the people who monopolized power at the expense of the entire citizenry refused to yield to the cries and pleas of their people to allow them some crumbs of the cornered largess on their table. Year-in-year-out they made promises to their imbecilic people which they, the rulers never kept. And whenever they were called upon to elect new leaders, those in power always made sure through hook or crook that they were returned to power. As a matter of fact, elections in this strange land were just a sham and shamble.
Gbewiri Island was not governed by any code of behaviour or any Constitution. The word of the rulers was law, as they, the rulers, were laws to themselves. Unfortunately for these lawless rulers a lot of their children had managed to flee to foreign countries where the government was better run and where ethics, morality and social justice were the norm.
As a result of crushing poverty, undisguised corruption, impunity and arbitrariness, the deaf and dumb and blind inhabitants of Gbewiri became restive and confrontational. There were bloody skirmishes and demonstrations while their rulers inflicted unprecedented repression on them. The islanders reasoned that death was more preferable to living a lifeless life.
Matters came to a head when the security of the country broke down completely and people became unsafe everywhere they went, to the extent that brutish death routinely visited them in their homes, on the roads, in their farms and even in the sky.
Their leader Gongoliera Sosoliso was unperturbed and unconcerned. He was so comfortable and confident that he felt no force on earth could unseat him and therefore rode the entire citizenry roughshod.
Unknown to him and his cohorts, several organizations had sprung up outside of the island and were determined to free their kith and kin from the shackles of the oppressive rulers. They were also convinced that the problem of the island rested squarely on the shoulders of Gongoliera Sosoliso.
Buoyed by what they learned from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar they started organizing themselves into cells.
“Why should we remain as groundlings in our own country?’’ The bespectacled Leader of the Volunteer Frontiers boomed at their emergency meeting. Mr. Glass-glass was not your type of regular leader. He was short and stocky with a mirror-like calabash as forehead. He sweated profusely and drowned gallons of water while speaking on top of his voice as if addressing a stadium audience. His wife who usually accompanied him to meetings was about double his height. She was large, big, fat and voluminous.
‘’I know we cannot rely on our representatives in government more so when all of them are merely representing themselves and their greed.” Mr. Glass-glass lamented as he poured unprintable invectives on the politicians in the island.
‘’Yes”, interjected Mrs. Virginia Bottomley, leader of the Live or Die Options Guerrilla who flew in from Caveland to sensitize other members of the various Freedom Now Movements. ‘’It is not their fault. We allowed them all along to hold us to ransom. We kept quiet for too long as if we were born slaves to these rogues and charlatans. Who are they? What are they? Silly swags.” Bottomley threw her hands in the air as she pronounced every word that flew from her large mouth, with thundering emphasis.
“We pray not to witness this kind of leaders again in our land” Professor Quantity-Quantity enthused as he struggled with the microphone. He was the leader of the Now-Now Movement headquartered in Mountainville, a country north of Yellowland, east of the Lepers Union Federation.
“They know they have come to the end of their journey. Everything will scatter soon. Trust me. Gongoliera Sosoliso has spies all over the place and yet can’t solve the insecurity malady that has enveloped the island. Anyway, as for me, this is not the time for talks. Action, ladies and gentlemen, Action or you perish as slaves and dispossessed cowards.” Dr. Janata Jantura spoke a few words and dropped the microphone.
Several other meetings were held behind the camera while a large number of the ruling class was secretly fleeing the island with their loot. Sosoliso’s spies were ordered to comb the entire island searching for the owner of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar!
A few weeks later, things moved so fast and the centre could no longer hold.
The last words I heard, or thought I heard were ‘Speak Hands for Me’ followed by explosive sounds.
Don’t ask me about Gbewiri Island or Gongoliera Sosoliso; they probably disappeared with my imagination