Arukulo, the man who says he is always at the front of the canoe, was silent. He sat in the Parliamentary Hall like the rest of the People of the Waterfronts, waiting for the appointed time. He was outwardly silent, but deep down, his heart was in turmoil. He could not help thinking of the senseless ways of the People of the City. He began to feel that though actually there appears to be no method in the madness of the People of the City, there seems to be the supernatural aspect of it that goes beyond the ken of the average man. Arukulo began to ask himself some salient questions, hoping to get the answers from within him.
Do people really deserve whatever they get? Is it true that there is really no injustice in this world but a just reward, though not logical to the ordinary senses, for everyone, no matter how palatable or unpalatable that maybe? Are the happenings of this world all justified or is nature vindictive? Are what we call accidents really accidents in the sense of happening without an initial deliberate cause? Or are they carefully programmed happenings, as consequences of thoughts, words and deeds in times past and including the present? If we do not have pipe-borne water in our homes despite the oil wealth in this nation, is it because of deliberate acts of the rulers which we never deserved or the acts of our rulers, albeit unconsciously, as a consequence of what we have collectively done, so as to pay us in our own coins? What about the lack of electricity despite escalating bills and after supposedly spending trillions of our money? Do we deserve it or is it just the wicked acts of our leaders?
The thoughts of Arukulo ran here and there, up and down, as he pondered on the silly ways of the People of City. They behave like gods who are bent on visiting the inequities of the parents on the children, while the children could not determine when they committed such atrocities to deserve being subjected to such pains.
The mind of Arukulo was still in turmoil when Governor Fashola, sympathizing with the victims of the unfortunate Dana Airlines Mishap that claimed more than 153 persons, said they were innocent citizens going about their duties. This again provoked another bout of agitations in the mind of Arukulo. Why must innocent persons going about their business be slaughtered in one fell swoop? Or are there more to it than meets the eyes? Five houses occupied by human beings were smashed. Can you imagine? People in their homes, far away from the airport killed right in their homes by a plane. They died just like these who boarded the ill-fated plane. Why? Even in our courts of law manned by human beings, the innocents are not sent to jail except by corrupt judges or erroneously. So why should a just nature send innocent people to the graves? If it is the deliberate acts of others, why should it be on innocent ones when there are so many people committing atrocities and still enjoying cozy lives? Another sad story seeped into the mind of Arukulo as he tried to make sense of the ways of the People of the City. He never knew why he has to indulge in such thoughts. Perhaps, he thought, his feeble mind wanted to disengage itself from the devastating stealing of the People of the City. The trillions daily stolen by those who should keep it safe are so mind-boggling that it was better to think of other things. Arukulo’s thoughts decided to pick up another issue. The strange world of the People of the City is really intriguing.
Just imagine this. A husband went to Bex Memorial Hospital, Onitsha, Anambra State, to collect the corpse of his wife he deposited there for burial. Perhaps, burdened with grief, the man picked up the corpse of Eunice Azara that was deposited there too by others without a careful look, leaving the corpse of his wife, Mrs. Eucharia Uka. He took the corpse to his home, Arochukwu, in Abia State and buried it. Meanwhile, the family of Late Mrs. Azara came to the mortuary to pick up their corpse to bury at Nneato community in Orlu local government area of Imo State. Corpse was nowhere to be seen, leading tongues to wag, insinuating foul play. Really, strange things happen in the city.
The thoughts of Arukulo refused to take a rest as it recollected another odd episode that happened in far away Michigan, USA., where a woman was wedded in the same church that had earlier conducted her funeral service. Whitney Cerak and four other Taylor University students were in a van when a truck hit the van. A heavily bandaged body was conveyed to the family of Cerak and it looked close enough to be their daughter’s body. They held a funeral service and buried her. Just as the Cerak were mourning, in a hospital nearby a couple was waiting patiently for their supposed daughter who had lost consciousness. When the lady regained consciousness, the parents felt uncomfortable as they felt the patient may not be their daughter. A paper was given to the lady to write her name and she wrote Whitney Cerak. The couple realized that they were just nursing the daughter of the very parents that have just buried their very daughter. How could all these the accidents or coincidences? Arukulo pondered. He could not believe that there is no method, no perfect order in the very things that happen to people and as he mulled over it, he felt a little pity for the People of the City. The chicken must come home to roost. Otherwise, Arukulo marveled, how would you explain a situation where a son accused his father of sleeping with his wife and instead of just driving his supposedly unfaithful wife, killed the son his wife bore and disfigured her with a hot iron?
It all happened in Okota community in Lagos. Mr. Henry Nnadi accused his father, Mr. Theodore Nnadi of sleeping with his wife and in the process fathered their son, Ebuka. Only Henry would know what entered his head as he killed his son and tortured Mercy with a hot pressing iron and a screw driver.
The Oldman of the Waterfronts got up, mercifully ending the torture of Arukulo’s roving mind. The appointed time has come and all must pay attention as he got set to call on the ancestors to take charge of the day’s deliberations.
The Oldman of the Waterfronts stretched his left hand and picked the bottle of the local white brew. He stretched his right hand and picked up the little glass cup, permanent companion of the bottle of the local white brew. He filled it and called out to the ancestors.
“Odumodu, great ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts, dweller at the domain between the land and the sea, take and drink. The People of the City may not be responsible for their present calamities, yet, if you look back, you will know that they sowed the seed that has developed into this tree of atrocities.
“Otumo-Ogugu, Favourite of the Maidens, he who goes in and out of the Maidens, detecting the unfaithful ones, I greet you. Take, drink and join your co-ancestor, to find solutions to the madness of the People of the City.
“Osokolo, another favourite of the Maidens, take, drink and help us to guide the footsteps of the People of the City”.
The Oldman of the Waterfronts ended his libation, filled the little glass cup again and drank all and then sent the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup round.
Just as the bottle of the local white and the little glass cup returned to the table, Arukulo got up to speak.
“People of the Waterfronts, I greet you all. What I will say may not be strange to you, but it will be like a mere imagination to the People of the City. I believe that we are all under the guidance of a supernatural hand that dishes to us the exact consequence of our thoughts, words and deeds, irrespective of the length of time it might take. I will simply relate to you what Nduka obaigbena said of MKO Abiola and you will understand that things don’t happen just like that. Otherwise, no one would have the conscience to shout agaist the renaming of UNILAG to Moshood Abiola University. He deserved it.
“Said Nduka, ‘As a collective, we have forgotten so soon the man who lost his life for Nigeria to have freedom (of choice) and keep the military in the barracks. Some even say you do not name iconic global universities like UNILAG and Harvard after individuals. Indeed Harvard University was named after John Harvard when he became that university’s earliest benefactor in 1636.
‘Abiola was a great benefactor to major universities in Nigeria, especially the University of Lagos to which he gave N100 million in the eighties (about N15 billion in today’s Naira). James Buchanan Duke renamed Duke University after his father Washington Duke in 1904 while Cornell University was named after historian Ezra Cornell! Harvard, Duke and Cornell are amongst the world’s top ranking universities as is John Hopkins University whose name was changed from the University of Baltimore to John Hopkins University in 1876.
‘Or is it the first University in New York City whose name was changed from Kings College to Columbia College (and later university) after 30 years of scholarship? What about Princeton University which started out as College of New Jersey? And Yale University which also started out as The Collegiate School in 1701 and renamed 17 years later after a Welsh businessman in India, Elihu Yale?
‘We can go on and on… Universities are not made by names; they become global centers of research and excellence through hard work and scholarship! What we need now is to promote research and scholarship not just in the renamed Moshood Abiola University of Lagos, but in all Nigerian universities so they truly can be centres of excellence and learning. What we need now is not to betray Abiola or blight his ultimate sacrifice, but ensure that we keep his legacies alive. What we need now is not to name stadia and buildings after Abiola, because stadia do not last forever as do great centres of ideas and learning like universities. For sooner or later structures are demolished in the face of architectural advances, sporting developments, and/ or growing demands of expanding cities.’ “####