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The Waterfronts Parliament: It Could Have Been Worse

The People of the Waterfronts gathered in their Parliamentary Hall, waiting for the appointed time to begin their deliberations on ways to cure the illness of the People of the City. The People of the City have long been afflicted with the killer diseases known as corruption, kidnapping, suicide bombing and disdain for the opinion of those who supposedly gave them the mandate to rule the nation. The disease has so much affected the People of the City that patriotism seems to ebb in them. Do not blame them. No one has an inexhaustible amount of patience. Patience thrives out of the hope that things would be better. However, if the Promised Land keeps on receding into the horizon, the people get wearied and patience flies away.
The gathering this week took a different hue. Instead of just coming in and sitting quietly, the People of the Waterfronts entered the Parliamentary Hall with their drums. They were gracefully dressed in green, white, green colours ready for the celebration of the nation at 52. The People of the City seeing the People of the Waterfronts in green white green, were amazed. They wondered why a group of people so impoverished would have the courage to still celebrate a nation that has treated them so unfairly. What is wrong with them? Each of them soliloquized. Is it that their patience is limitless or that they are downright insensitive to whatever inhuman treatment meted out to them? Are they made of sterner stuff? Don’t they have blood flowing in their veins?
What the People of the City do not know is that the People of the Waterfronts believe in the philosophy popularly known as “It could have been worse.” It is a simple philosophy that gets them along without developing high blood pressure. No matter what happens to them, the People of the Waterfronts believe that it could have been worse, but for the mercy of the Creator. If an accident happens to any one of them, he or she thanks the Creator and says, “It could have been worse.” If they go out fishing throughout the night and catch just enough to see them for the day, they thank the Creator and exclaim, “It could have been worse.” If their child is very sick and they tried every herb to cure the child, when asked they say, “It could have been worse”. If any of them has not eaten since morning or has met a misfortune in the course of the day, they still exclaim, “It could have been worse.” Even when any of them lose a child or any valuable, he or she still proclaims, “It could have been worse.” The People of the Waterfronts are incurable optimists and it has seen them through, making the People of the City wonder if they ever have feelings.
The appointed time came and like a robot programmed, the Oldman of the Waterfronts got up abruptly, ending all soliloquies, ready to call on the ancestor to take over the proceedings. He stretched his left hand and picked up the bottle of the local white brew, the elixir of the ancestors. His right hand went forth and 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, he who dwells at the domain between the Land and the Sea, take and drink. The People of the City looked for you on the land and in the sea, but could not see you. You carefully avoided them as you hid yourself between the Land and the Sea. You do not want to be contaminated by their corrupt nature.
“Odumodu, the nation is 52 years old. People dance, sing and feel happy with friends even when they are below ten years of age. In fact, they rejoice whenever they add a year to their age. So we have a good reason to rejoice. We are 52 years old, an age worthy to celebrate, wealthy or poor, happy or sad. It could have been worse. I remember in the good days, when as little boys and girls, young men and woman, middle age and old, we march on the fields and streets, singing, “Nigeria we hail thee, Our own dear native land. Though tribe and tongue may differ, In brotherhood we stand. Nigerians all are proud to serve, Our sovereign father land.” Forgive me dear ancestors for remembering the golden old days. The few streets and roads available were adequately taken care of. The electricity corporation supplied light regularly to all the places that have electricity. No epileptic power supply. You can use a penny to buy both banana and groundnuts. There is even the farthing to buy some goods. One shilling ten pence is enough to buy a packet shirt. Even up to the 1980s, a man could survive with a salary of less than N100 for a whole month and a bag of cement was just about five naira.
“Odumodu, you have a reason to forgive me for singing the old national anthem. Now, they urge us to “Arise O compatriots,” knowing that we have for long been sleeping and all our legacies carted away by people who are supposed to take care of them for us. I know that you remembered in our elementary school which we attended when our right hand crosses our head and touches our left ear, how we marched as we resumed in the morning, calling on the names of our great African rivers and great men, in a song that has the cynics like this, “Nile, Niger, Congo, Senagal, orange, Limpopo, Zambeze. Awolowo, Azikwe, Sardauna Sokoto, Abubakar Tafawa Belewa.” We sang it happily and joyously because every Independence Day, we remember the acceptance speech of the Prime Minister, Sir. Abubakar Tafawa Belewa, “This is a wonderful day, and it is all the more wonderful because we have awaited it with increasing impatience, compelled to watch one country after another over taking us on the road when we had so nearly reached our goal. But now we have acquired our rightful status and I feel sure that history will show that the building of our nation proceeded at the wisest pace: it has been thorough and Nigeria now stands well-built upon firm foundations.”
“Odumodu, what happens now? The firm foundations have been tampered with, and almost up rooted by suicide bombers, kidnappers and unpatriotic citizens. Of course, they may give reasons of corruption and barefaced looting of our collective purse by politicians foisted on us by jaundiced electoral system. Now, we celebrate our independence, even at the age of 52, with what they termed ‘low-keyed celebrations”, because, according to them, “The transformation agenda is like an athletic race, you do not begin to celebrate until you have reached the tape. The world is troubled and the economy is on the downward trend, especially in Europe. We are not excluded from this as we have critical challenges in almost every sphere of our daily lives. For a responsive government, it will not be glamorous anniversary at the expenses of the need of its people. In tune with the national mood on reflection of our national life to correct the anomalies, rather than committing huge resources to the celebration, we want to commit that to Nigerians deserving of peace, security and stable means to livelihood.” Take, drink and help us, Odumodu. It could have been worse.
“Otumo-Ogugu, Favourite of the Maidens, he who goes in and out of the Maidens, join your co-ancestor and help us. Now, we do not see our leaders during Independence Day celebrations. They are now ensconced in the safe havens of Aso Rock where only selected people see them. We implore you to join forces and bring back our lost glory. Take and drink.
“Osokolo, another Favourite of the Maidens, he who pursues the Maidens out of Waterfronts, reminding them of their domestic chores, join your co-ancestors to re-direct the straying steps of the People of the City. Take and drink, and help us.”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts ended his libation, refilled the little glass cup, swallowed all and allowed the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup to go round the Parliamentary Hall. They took a glassful each, cleared their throats, ready for the deliberations.
Okolobo, he of the Creeks, got up to speak. “People of the Waterfronts, I greet you all. I wish you all a happy Independence Day celebration. You may as well ask why I have to wish you a happy independence day, even as the Power Holding Company has held on to the power supply this very Independence day, depriving us of the use of our microphones and we have to strain our lungs shouting and sweating. Despite the absence of electricity, absence of standard hospitals to take care of our rulers, forcing them to go to overseas for treatment, bad roads, unemployment, insecurity, mass stealing, kidnapping, suicide bombings, we still have to celebrate at 52 because we are still united despite all odds. I pity those who compare us to when the USA, Britain and others were 52 years old, saying they were worse off. I pity them, because you emulate the good, not the bad.
“Grandpa, please allow the drums to entertain us.”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts filled the little glass cup, turned all into his mouth and gave the signal to the drummers.

By Kenneth Amabipi
0803 668 7846
Email: kennymaps@yahoo.co.uk

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