Thursday, May 18, 2017 1:42 pm
By Ademola Araoye
It was my friend Iya Ikotun that said it all in her familiar colloquialism. You cannot redeem the smoked fish. It is dead, but it can still disappoint you. It would, half rotten, scatter in the soup just to underline the emptiness of the pretend victory of the fisherman, the fishmonger and the consumer. It is the certainty of the ultimate triumph of the elements of nature over the pretensions of the undiscerning victorious. The vengeful overcoming of the victim over the thoughtless victor. But who can tell? What is the measuring gauge for success in a convoluted, ethically and morally upended society like ours? I thought of the Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway’s paradoxical slim cathedral of defiance, struggle, hope and the ultimate relativity of victory. Ernest Hemingway, the victorious victim of success and that suicidal prophet whose life acted out his plot in his personal happy go lucky human trials. Hemingway won his battles over his demons but only in the same manner of the ultimate empty victory of his father. His life perfectly exemplified the true universality of human struggle over the elements, over the hazardous unforeseeable and the unpredictability of the nature of the victory that we aim at.
In the final analysis, what is a life, each life, worth? When is a life worth the struggle imposed on it by the physical occupant of that life? But Hemingway’s life’s struggles largely imposed by himself was different in the purity of the fundamentals of the existential challenges to turn the scales against those who vaingloriously mock humanity. Especially those who mock humanity in the name of some divinity extraneous to the land. Where is the redeeming potency of their many cathedrals in the land? And who are their earthly advocates. Corruption and the famously corrupt.
Back to Hemingway, a light bonhomie on the margins of serious life of the intellect did not harm. Ernest Hemingway’s Old man towered above the mockery of the undiscerning, conquered the sea with an incredible award winning haul only for the prize to be mauled away by the conspiratorial combination of the forces of nature: the weather, the sea and the ever circling sharks constantly and unremittingly sniffing and trailing blood. The Old Man had left his only helping hand on shore. He was alone on the blessed day of his biggest fight in his long blighted career. He was going to break the perceived spell, the intractable curse. But the sea, this sea that had rewarded him with an unprecedented trophy was shark infested.
But he knew the rule too well. And if you dare to swim in shark infested waters, you learn not to bleed. That’s the maxim of the hardy and experienced. The colloquial doctrine of the woman, my very thoughtful friend in Egbe, Ikotun. She warned that the elements may yet come to ruin the many victory parades of those who have desecrated the land. The accursed and their scions will have their day in court. But not in the judicial docks, she affirmed. Just wait one day… Just wait for the day that the all absorbing hardy Nigerian will spew his/her volcanic ashes cross manicured lawns of mansions across the entire national space. Something would break, Iya Ikotun pressed on in her defiant intonation. This smoked fish is dead and rotten, but it can still get at you, she warned of the ominous gathering of the coming storm. She was ruminating about the coming day of the hardy Nigerian to come get them.
Yes, to come get them. That is the coming tribulation of this deviant polity. This land blighted by the corrosive impact of corruption; a state in awesome daze, suffocating from the anemia of its soul and kicking about in near, very near, gasps for life. It is corruption, so pervasive in the land it is actually the norm. Goodness is an aberration or has been conveniently redefined to satiate new fads, fashion and discounted ethical tastes. This is a spiritual wasteland; a vast expanse of hypocritical tribes cocooned in decadent deceit. They pray five times a day. Sons are admonished to marry only the revigirnated born again prayerful. Husbands are exalted to banish the cerebral. The Lord hates the thinking process.
The human faculties are to exalt the Lord, not to be querulous. Thinking is dangerous to your spiritual health. So read the bible and recite the Quoran. Join the new fangled crusading brigades in the trenches against jihadists. Pray, let Nigeria pray in the midst of the party. Constant prayer is the long permissible feast. Build colleges to proselytize and indoctrinate the future. Build conspicuous prayer camps. Intellectual retreats breed thoughtfulness. Let professors give testimonies to the wondrous gifts of god. It is more salient for the vacant Vice Chancellorship than the search for unprofitable mundane knowledge. The Philosophers can profess nonsensical epistemological platforms consistent with church expectations. That is how best to be in the good books of the fiscally vibrant churches and their Daddies. The white man can continue to do the real research. As Prime Minister Natayahu is said to have rightlynoted, the blak man is not cut out for arcane research. His mandate is to pray. And in the course of praying, remember to dig trenches for the obviously senseless inevitable war for the coming generations. Wait on the Lord. The land is accursed. So relocate to Israel, visit the wailing wall and float on the Jordan river. But make money because there is a five star hotel full of life around the lake.
The celebrated are not the conventional patriots. And the corrupt shall be exalted. They will be remain unbowed, blowing the trumpets of their own exaltation. And they howl speak in tongues anointed in the name of god- their naked holinesses and their fouled Yahweys. They build their convenient constituencies of holy evil. In this land, where the fuse to anger takes long to ignite and massive outrage is in large demand but unavailable, for now, on the market shelves, the wise and prudent understand that you are not corrupt at your own peril. Your career is a non starter. You are foolish and no one will offer you a five million dollar gift.
Look around you. Look at the principals across the national estate, across all the realms. Truly, no good deed shall go unpunished. Examine the intimate profiles of those they have foisted on the national pantheon: hypocrites in their villainous heroics and perfumed and aromatic garbs that cannot hide the stink around them, metaphorically and physically. And the scions of the past rogues taking the mantle of accursed leadership. Then history is revised on a quotidian basis. Even the standard national narratives are corrupted. The story of the nation bandied around is a lie.
This land strenuously angling to translate itself into a real nothingness; hitherto a beautiful land now in the throes of living tragedies expressed in grandiloquent sophistry. The national pact is a settlement of brigandage. How much are you worth? What’s your pedigree, your antecedence? Was your a father a general? How much is he worth? Was he an official money launderer for the military? or , if you can confide in me, Was he or your mother a drug baron? Has he a mansion on the highest hill in your village? How many oil blocs does your father command in the Niger Delta? How much does your father’s extacode amount to in a year? How big is his palava hut. Does he tend to his septic tank at night? How often does he mediate in his private chapel where he worships? Does he close the door to count the rosary or tesbiIs? What does he actually count in his private chapel or mosque?
Was your father a Grand Commander of the National Order of Hypocrites and Vagabonds? And of what class and grade? I intend no intrusions into the privacy of your life. The problem is Magu. Magu hates “mago mago”. You are clean and may sleep well in your bed. Magu, i has been whispered for my ears only, has unrefined sensibilities. He looks and acts the role. He may still come calling even if some highly placed people in Abuja wish him dead.