The People of the Waterfronts gathered as usual to deliberate on the silly ways of the People of the City. They waited patiently for the appointed time to begin their parliamentary session but they could not concentrate as the din from the City became overbearing. It was noise all through and the People of the Waterfronts wondered what the bedlam was all about.
Then they knew. The People of the City are agitated. They have been given a blow below the belt and are shouting foul, carrying placards, moving round and disturbing the entire city. They say the only thing that made them to endure life has been taken away by their leaders and now they are no more living but merely existing, waiting for their time of departure to the great beyond.
They shouted all over the City, “We provide electricity for ourselves, though the people who hold the power, appropriately named Power Holding Company, collect electricity bills from us. We provide drinking water for ourselves, in some cases we construct roads by ourselves to our houses. We provide security for ourselves. We visit herbal homes when we fall sick and we build schools for ourselves.
Now the only little assistance from them has been removed. Do they want us to die before our time? How can we, at this exorbitant price, buy fuel for our generating sets at home and in our offices and also fill our cars? No we can’t accept that”.
Strangely, as one group of the People of the City bemoaned their woes they felt have befallen them, another group of the People of the City sang different songs.
“You are all ungrateful people,” they raved. “You are so used to swallowing sweet pills that you have forgotten that the most curative pills are the bitter ones. You are the set of people the late singer, Dr. Apanya of blessed memory, one of the People of the Waterfronts referred to when he sang “I’ Ibibo Ori siki ikpoya sibo, I’ sibo ori siki ikpoya ibibo a mixture of Okrika dialect and Ibo which means ‘when you see a good man, you call him a bad man. When you see a bad man, you call him a good man’. You have been fed so much with lies that the truth now appears to you as a lie, and the lie, truth. Shame on you. Have you not heard of quinine, that most bitter pill that drives away headache in minutes? Because of your ungrateful hearts the pill was withdrawn from the shelf and now you suffer headache daily as you swallow chalks in the name of tablets. Now that someone has re-introduced the bitter pill, the panacea for all illnesses, you bare your fangs like demented lions. Shame on you.”
At last the appointed time came and the Oldman of the Waterfronts got up, stretched his left hand to pick up the bottle of the local white brew, while his right hand picked up the little glass cup, permanent companion of the bottle of the local white brew. He filled it and began his call on the ancestors.
“Odumodu, great ancestor of the |People of the Waterfronts, dweller at the domain between the land and the sea, he who makes his presence felt at every promontory to your people, we greet you. We your descendants know that you meant well when you drained your precious blood and stored it under the mangroves, which are your bones and the mud, your flesh. However unknown to you, since you were a mortal at the time of your altruistic action, your very good intention has turned out to be a cross for all of us to bear. The People of the City who chanced upon your precious blood, ignorantly called it crude oil and have crudely mismanaged the proceeds from it leading us to utter misery.
“The People of the City crudely abandoned all other sources of revenues in a blessed country like ours with the best weather all year round and leached upon your precious blood only. They have now deprived us, we your descendants, compelling us to have it at an unaffordable price, while deliberately denying us of all necessities that would have made us to think less of spending our hard earned naira on it. Our salaries have been un-subsidized and we are left with just enough to buy peanuts for our kids. Take and drink, Odumodu and find a way to salvage us from these wreckages.
“Otumo-Ogugu, Favourite of the Maidens, he who goes in and out of the Maidens exposing the unfaithful ones, take and drink also. Assist your co-ancestor, Odumodu, to bring sanity into the hearts of the People of the City.
“Osokolo, another favourite of the Maidens, he who pursues the Maidens out of the Waterfronts, disciplining the lazy ones, we enjoin you to join your co-ancestors to find solution to our woes inflicted upon us by the People of the City. Take and drink”.
The Oldman of the Waterfronts ended his libation as he poured the remaining local white brew in the little glass cup on the table for the consumption of the invisible elders that occupy the table with him. He refilled the little glass cup and swallowed all before allowing the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup to move round the hall. One by one, the People of the Waterfronts swallowed a glassful each to clear away the noise from the People of the City. Why is it that it is only noise they would send them after enjoying the delicacies provided by the precious blood of Odumodu, the great ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts? They wondered, as they let the cold but hot liquid slid down their throats.
noise from the People of the City. Why is it that it is only noise they would send them after enjoying the delicacies provided by the precious blood of Odumodu, the great ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts? They wondered, as they let the cold but hot liquid slid down their throats.
The Tall and Huge fellow of the Waterfronts returned the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup back to the table. Okolobo, he of the creeks, raised up his right hand, an indication to be allowed to speak. He was allowed.
“People of the Waterfronts, I greet you all”, he began, as he stood frowning at the unnecessary hardship imposed on him by the crude management of his rightful legacy.
“We must pity the rulers. They are transfixed in an intractable dilemma. When they decide policies which they feel is for the good of all, the masses reject them and say they will never accept imposed policies.
Meanwhile, they were supposedly voted into office by virtue of their ability to decide for the people. Now why on earth will you stop someone from deciding for you what is good for you, when it was because of his supposed wisdom that you rejected others and voted for him or her?
“When a ruler decides to be upright and rule according to the rules, his relatives accuse him of being stupid for not dipping his hands into the national purse like others. His friends reject him. His co-workers deride him and plot to sack him when tells them not to touch the commonwealth. His village withdraws all honours given to him because he could not manipulate and empty the coffers like others to enrich them. In fact they rue his tenure and cry for its loss. When the ruler abandons his principles and wise decisions and pander to the whims and use his enjoyment hereafter.
caprices of the masses, they abuse him of being pushed around and a man without a definite purpose. They point to him those who have enriched themselves and their relatives, friends and communities and who are now given honours of Grand Commanders, kings, chiefs, knights, dames and other appetizing titles and remind him that he could afterwards, at the twilight of his life, ask for forgiveness from an ever-merciful and forgiving God and continue his enjoyment hereafter.
“So the confused rulers change to their dance steps. We see them wash their used plots and forks and spoons, yet they tell us that they have not eaten. We see them clean and fresh with powdered faces, yet they tell us that they have not taken their baths because there is no water. We see them wear well-laundered suits, yet they say they too have no use of pressing irons because they have no electricity. We see their clean shoes as they visit us from far away and near, yet they tell us they trekked and have no cars. We see their mouths open wide, teeth shining and happiness planted on their faces, yet they tell us they know no laughter. We see them pack into a new mansion every year, yet they tell us things are so hard and that they are barely surviving.
“They now behave like my landlord who told his relation that he had no money when she begged him for a thousand naira to feed her crying babies. Yet the, following day, he bought a new jeep and brought it to the house. She wondered if he stole it since he could not afford a thousand naira the previous day.
“They make trips to overseas like trips to their backwards and tell us they went on an errand for us who sent them. Yet nothing was brought to us who supposedly sent them on the trips, even as they collect the transport fare from our collective purse. They are like the husband who told his wife and children they could not afford to cook in the house and must make do with tapioca, morning, noon and evening. Yet he visits and eats in the most expensive hotels on his own, morning, noon and evening. There is no money to pay the rent, the husband says and the family must pack to the village. Yet he sleeps in the most expensive hotel each night with different ladies. Grandpa, please my throat is try”.
The Oldman of the Waterfronts obliged him and the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup moved to Okolobo. ###

Kenneth Amabipi

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