Thursday, April 30, 2020 11:41 am
By Bayo Adeyinka
Gbenga Adeboye died exactly 17 years ago (on 30 April 2003). I wrote the article below in his honour four years ago. Gbenga Adeboye was an indigene of my town, Ode-Omu in Osun State. I still regard him as the greatest Yoruba stand-up comedian till date. Rest on, homeboy.
Gbenga Adeboye And The APC Masquerade
Thirteen years ago, Gbenga Adeboye passed on to eternity. He was laid to rest in May 2003. An indigene of Ode-Omu in Osun State, he was known for several rib-cracking jokes and his radio programme on the then OGBC 2 FM Station had everyone in the South West glued to their radio sets for the duration of the show. One of the best stand-up comedians from this country, Gbenga Adeboye once shared a joke about a white tourist that came to Abeokuta during the Masquerade festival. As he took the ‘Oyinbo’ man round the ancient city, they came across a masquerader performing magical acts on the street. His drummers eulogized him as follows:
“You can’t do like your father
Or can you do like your father?
If you can do like your father
Stand on your head and dance”.
In response, the masquerader stood on his head and danced and everyone hailed him.
Suddenly, the drummers changed the drum beats:
“If you can do like your father
Do many acrobatic displays in a jiffy”
In response, the masquerader did several acrobatic displays to the admiration of everyone who shouted and hailed him. But the drummers were not finished yet.
They beat the drums again:
“If you can do like your father,
Let someone bring out his gun
And shoot you and you must not die”
As if on cue, a young man stepped out from the crowd with his dane gun aimed at the masquerader. The masquerader was unperturbed. The crowd went into a frenzy as they shouted, ‘Shoot’. In defiance, the masquerader also approached the man with the gun and screamed, ‘Shoot me’.
“Gbuaaaa!”, the dane gun boomed. There was silence in the crowd. But the masquerader did not fall but rather kept on dancing. There was another shot, “takooo” but the masquerader shook himself and danced more vigorously.
The singers and drummers kept hailing him in ‘nines’ and ‘tens’ ( ni mesan, ni mewa). The drummers changed the beat as they erupted in the masquerader’s praise:
“We shouldn’t envy a child because he resembles his father
This masquerader resembles his father too much
We shouldn’t envy a child because he resembles his father.”
The white tourist became so excited! He had never seen anything like this before. “Oh I love Africa. This is beautiful”, he said. Excitedly, the white man brought out his own pistol so as to test the masquerader. He walked towards the direction of the masquerader with his pistol drawn while everyone hailed the masquerader and urged the oyinbo to shoot. On seeing the white man, the masquerader quickly called his “atokun” (the person who controls his movement) aside and asked quietly in his usual guttural voice, “Atokun kilo nsele? This whiteman is a member of our team ni?” (Coordinator, what is happening? Is this white man a member of our team?). The Coordinator said no. Then the masquerader retorted, “And you are standing there watching while he attempts to shoot me with a real gun? Na Sango go kill you? No let am shoot me o”. The masquerader started pleading.
While the conversation went on, the drummers kept drumming:
That is what a man does.
Do like your father.”
The masquerader then turned to the drummers and shouted, “E no wan better for una ni? Did you ever see an oyinbo man shoot my father? E ya were ni?”( Did you ever see my father shot by a white man? Are you crazy?).
It was at this point that Gbenga Adeboye intervened and told the masquerader, “But you’re from heaven now. Why are you afraid of the white man’s pistol? Patapata you go back home”.
The masquerader replied by appealing to Gbenga Adeboye, “Haba Buoda Gbenga, you don’t know me again at Adatan. I am Ojelabi the son of Egunleti resident at Adatan in Abeokuta. I’m not from heaven o! Tell your friend not to shoot me o, na beg I dey beg una o. The man wey shoot the other time na band member o, we don rehearse for house o, na only etu dey hin gun no be bullet o, my children are young o.”(The man that shot me initially is my band member and we did a lot of rehearsals at home before trying the trick. It is even only gun powder that is in the gun. There are no bullets there. Please, my children are young).
As funny as this story is, it reminds me of the situation of this APC government- before elections and after. The APC masquerade was full of tricks and promises right before the election. To them, if terrorist attacks lasts beyond three months, the Commander-in-chief must be culpable and may even be a major player. To the former opposition candidate who is now the President, there was nothing like subsidy. The former Lagos State Governor and now the Minister of Power and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola wrote quite a few ‘take-aways’ and in a 2014 speech, he said, “I agree that it is possible to generate electricity and to make sure that everybody in this country has electricity. I agree with you it is simple with what we have done in Lagos within the areas where we are constrained showed that it can be done. But the only way you and I will have electricity in this country is to vote out the PDP. Unless you vote for the All Progressives Congress, APC to change an inefficient government, it is going to be difficult to have electricity.” The former opposition party heavily criticized the railway coaches and even called it “locomotive” derisively. They promised bullet trains when they get to office.
Little did the crowd of uninformed and deceived observers know that the plot was well rehearsed by APC’s masquerade. Of course, you know the type of people who follow a masquerade. Babatunde Raji Fashola could come and give his acrobatic ‘take-away’ dances because he was on a familiar terrain. Truth be told, is there really anyone who would not give a good account of himself with the resources available to Lagos accompanied by the efficient propaganda machinery of the Lagos-Ibadan press? Even Ambode is lighting up Lagos now. Unfortunately, Babatunde Fashola is now better known as the Minister for Darkness. His masquerade capitulated in front of the white man’s pistol. He cuts a pitiful sight nowadays as he often had to explain away why Nigeria’s power output fell from 5,000MW to zero megawatt twice recently or the inability of the power stations to get constant gas supply or why the tariffs had to go up.
Lai Mohammed now understands that running a propaganda machinery is different from running the Ministry of Information. He has now been subjected to the same treatment he subjected others to in the recent past. With the white man’s pistol facing the APC masquerade, suddenly they know subsidy which they initially didn’t acknowledge as existing now had to go. Amaechi can now see clearly the trains he once called locomotives. Fashola now understands the challenges of distribution and generation and has toned down his rhetorics. However, the crowd is already in a frenzy and all they want is a performance. The masquerade has over-promised. It just can’t afford to under-deliver. To the crowd, if the masquerade could face the dane gun, it can also face the pistol. Truth be told, governing a complex entity like Nigeria is not a child’s play. The interplay of forces demand that wisdom and caution are applied in several situations. Sitting in the driver’s seat will give the driver a vantage view he could never have as a passenger. After about a year, reality is setting in. Very soon, the crowd will discover that after all, the masquerade is actually a human being and not a heavenly being.
We miss you, Olugbenga Adeboye.
-Bayo Adeyinka, banker and social critic, writes from Lagos, Nigeria