I recently got to cover a story in Benue and I (Silly Yamika) thought that it was an acknowledgment of my past performance. Sadly, reality (the huge meanie) was setting me up, in a nice office game of pass the buck to the unsuspecting newbie. I am happy to report that rumors that the devil has relocated to Makurdi in Benue are all false. Although I personally think that the red guy would be comfortable if he settles there because, it is hotter than Hades.
Like a country song , I rolled into an unsuspecting town. I found the people stylish… well about as stylish as 2009. They were polite and overly welcoming in a way that suggests that they expected me to entertain them. Everyone moved at a speed that was mainly slow. The heat only served to exaggerate their nonchalance. I woke up for a 7.30 assignment that finally got going at noon. My articles all got written up and sent by Blackberry, because my laptop couldn’t or wouldn’t catch the internet and it seemed less strenuous than asking for a café. I was given the superb choice between okadas and unmarked taxis. I wonder what it says about me that I prefer the rude bustle of Lagos to the Makurdi calm. I thought it was funny, until it hit me. As bad as it is in Lagos and Abuja, it is worse (and slower) in other places. For many people this was no assignment, no twilight zone and no Truman show, when I left these people would remain there. This was their life.
Their culture was also very strange to me. There seemed to be a huge aversion to brooms. My arrival coincided with what can best be described as the Salem Makurdi broom trials. As my bus pulled into town, the first thing I noticed was a slew of ‘wanted’ posters with brooms on them. Now I can’t tell you if they were all the same broom or completely different broom because most brooms look pretty much the same to me. Maybe they have a reformed quidditch referee to help with that. The signs were everywhere. Another thing I noticed was the high price of brooms. You would think that with so many brooms going bad, their market value with depreciate.
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS BROOM
Traffic came to a standstill on the next day as a crowd seemed to have apprehended a family of brooms. They proceeded to drive through town in a huge convoy. There was music and dancing with lots of merriment. The street crowd parted and cheered, as five cars and countless okadas paraded their captives. The celebration continued throughout my stay. I was still wondering what the brooms did, when two days later I rode out of town. There were many decapitated brooms hanging in the wind, I guess as a warning to other brooms. Though, I never did figure out why. Drop me a line if you know.
Nigeria is 50 and we are mere months away from the 2011 elections. In anticipation of the actual tedious voting itself here are ten things to look forward to.
1. Obama: He will appear on posters and be compared to candidates that he has never heard off. These people will also parade slogans about change that are variations of ‘yes we can’. (Note Obama can be substituted with Gandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jesus…George Clooney*)
2.Ankara: Because nothing says I’m going to vote for this guy, like his face all over my clothes. The campaign trail uniform of choice for all wannabe first ladies and their entourage. They will be well cut and highly fashionable except for the unseemly awkwardly placed face print. We will forgive them after we decide that the patterns are lovely and cut them out of ovation for our personal tailors to attempt recreation.
3. Jingles: Of the broken English variety. As we all know the lower classes vote based on the ads directed at them. Each ad will sing the praises of the candidates who are ‘for we people,’ ‘dey kam-pay,’ and ‘go save we country’. All accompanied by native drums, beads and shrieking. Be warned, you will find yourself singing along.
4. Songs: Not to be mistaken for jingles, which are shorter and catchier. With all the political tension in the air, up and coming artists will try and cash in on the power of song, to bring about change and skyrocket themselves into stardom. (it’s the equivalent of singing a football song that becomes the world cup anthem)
5. Rallies: aka parties for political parties. A huge turnout is guaranteed every time because Nigerians love free food. Mo gbo, Mo ya”
6. TV specials: Candidates will dust off their one achievement and put it on display. That school they built 20 years ago or that hospital they refurbished (under duress) as governor 5 years ago, that lone road that happens to reach their village (with a complimentary street named after them) and don’t forget that orphanage with the fat, grateful, chatty warden and the mute anorexic children. Whatever the case people must know. For those on the fence they will be won over by molesting I mean the token kissing of babies.
7. Endless debates: Not about the issues but about the likelihood of free and fair elections.
8. Green, white and dare I say more green. Everything will be draped in patriotic green and white, all in the most random locations, on the most pointless things (yes I’m referring to the sea horse that appeared in the middle of Lagos during carnival)
9. Smear campaigns and bogus boasts, disguised as politics. I believe in divine ordinance, but it is not viable political argument.
10. Light: (Gotcha) I regret to predict the usual lack of light.
My fellow Nigerians, “I hereby move a motion that the senate should adopt I go dye (the Warri comedian) as the new president of Nigeria, until we get out of this comical stage”[ Bayo Omo-Akin on facebook] He may have a point. We have accelerated past the point of things I though were remotely possible and now reside firmly in Never-neverland!
I was privileged enough to be in Abuja when His excellency the ominiabsent one returned. Allegedly! Under the cover of dark he was smuggled in were once again it was alleged that he walked on his own from his plane and then from his ambulance into his house. Like everyone else, I have seen no real proof of anything.
Speaking personally, after such a pronounced absence the best thing would have been to manipulate the propaganda machine in your favour. Less undercover stuvves, for false bravado. He should have him greeted in broad daylight by some kind of military parade. If you are going to give people the run-around you should at least pretend to have nothing to hide. Now we no longer suspect, but know that he is involved in some serious cover-up (My money is on his absence being down to the amount of time it took his body double to recover from major cosmetic surgery. Clearly not a full recovery but enough to fool people at 2am in the morning)
The twitter machine has since kicked into full gear with allegations of Goodluck intend to quit (please say it with me: From where to where?) Quit as what? VP or Acting president? Also this girl would like to ask, will the president face some kind of query concerning his absence? ‘My guess and I’m a pretty good guesser, NO, Nian, Nadda!’ and why should he, by my reckoning all this has not phased the masses. They will grumble but life is to busy going on. No one will line up for fuel for anyone who is otherwise concerned with political matters. The best we could get was a few minutes mention on CNN after the killer whale story and even that did not speculate on First lady Turia’s role in all this.