Posts Tagged ‘conservative’

MUTUAL LIBERALISM


Indecision


We are from different ethnic groups, each from two different majorities in a country with three majority ethnic groups. We both presently reside in the third majority ethnic area. We live in caution, tending towards fear. There have been incessant cases of religious crisis around us, with increasing possibility that it might arrive at our doorstep soonest. Obinna and I constantly remind ourselves of our peculiar situation; Christians living amongst a predominantly Muslim population. We cannot leave because we are currently fulfilling our mandatory one year post university graduation service to our motherland. Thus we seek solutions daily.

It is apparent that religion is a front continually used to foment political and ethnic chaos. We decided the solution was to detribalise Nigeria, create unity. The most malleable instrument-we observed- is language; food is common, and religion; too sensitive. Obinna believed that if the local languages were discouraged, abolished from the school curricula and all Nigerians adopt English like the eclectic American society, peace will reign. Eventually, he enthused, all of Nigeria will be one and we will speak in one tongue. I admitted that it is important to transact all official business in a common lingua franca irrespective of tribes. A situation where language differences in the workplace encourages tribalism and nepotism is surely unacceptable however it is important that we do not forget our origins. African history has been passed across generations by the local languages. If I stop speaking Yoruba, I stop knowing who I am and where I come from. It is like forgetting the reason why I grow a potbelly when I am hungry. The Fulani man will also be confused about his lanky frame even after overfeeding! We argued awhile, and then agreed to disagree. He named his theory “mutual liberalism” and mine “mutual conservatism”. We did not ponder over the political accuracy of his terminologies; we decided to take a lunch break. Our fears had been dispelled temporarily with youthful banter.

Our argument made us forget food, we searched for lunch at 5pm when most restaurants around were closing for the day. At various stops, we repeatedly heard “sorry, food has finished”! Hunger made us intransigent, we continued our forlorn quest. Fortunately, after a few minutes, we happened upon a restaurant that still had food; however we were presented with a dilemma. They had only a plate of our favourite meal-corn food and ogbono soup-left, all they could offer the next person was rice and stew without meat! We sat for a moment, dejected, considering our lack of choices. Our gastric juices jolted us back to reality. We started conversing in low tones; each looking to the other to make the inevitable sacrifice.

Suddenly, Obinna looked at the woman that addressed us; she was a fair complexioned one, portly and quite hairy. Her wrapper was brightly coloured, definitely eastern. He mumbled some incomprehensible words to her in Igbo; she nodded in understanding and sauntered away. I turned and asked my friend “what is happening”? He answered that he only told her to bring the food. The portly woman returned with a tray laden with plates, she placed the corn food and ogbono in front of Obinna, then the rice and stew in front of me. I looked at my friend across the table from me; he had a mischievous smile on his face. Why didn’t he say those words in English? What did he even say? I could not take offence, someone had to budge. What If I was in his shoes? I started eating my rice. Mutual liberalism indeed!

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ALONE


He is going to the city. A place he loathes but loves to hear about. He treats it like a mad man on the street; it thrills to watch him but you don’t want to take him home. His friend Adamu who owns the provision store at the village market usually visits the city for his supplies. Adamu is full of stories about the city-roads that pass above large bodies of water, roads that pass above other roads, and buildings that aspire to reach God, cars that dash around in endless streams. The tales are endless; women who roam the streets almost naked and city dwellers who seem to ignore such abomination. He will only visit the city to see his son. He does not yearn for the seemingly good things of the civilised world. He is all that city is not; a yokel.

On reaching the city, he looked around with bated breath. Adamu had not described half of it. There were roads for cars and roads for his feet, little trees joined the streetlights to guide the roads in unending columns. The most amazing were the people, they brushed past him, and they rushed on in all directions, none observing the other. Everybody seemed to be going about some very important business, he wondered at what could be so important! Then, still engrossed in his scrutiny, he heard rumblings, he looked around searching for the source but it appeared to be coming from inside him. The sounds were accompanied by slight abdominal pains. He knew what that meant-time to void. He looked at the piece of paper he held in his hand, it displayed the address to his son’s residence. He was supposed to ask for directions but who could he ask; these people? This bizarre crowd! He became extremely confused, he summoned courage and motioned to a young man walking by his side “please”, he started shyly but before he could continue, the lad increased his pace and walked briskly on without answering.

His babariga was becoming soaked with perspiration; his brow was wet even though the weather was chilly. The contents of his bowel were seeking an exit, he reduced his pace. Sometimes he stopped altogether especially when the stream of faeces knocks at the door of his anus. Relief came in pulses but such period only preceded greater discomfort.  He examined his surrounding, people everywhere, no secluded spots, no open unoccupied spaces and no grounds where he could squat and answer God’s call. He stood still, forlorn, alone in the crowd! In a moment, he thought about his village where God’s land extended in endless stretches, always ready to receive the natural manure whenever the urge beckoned. Moreover, the people, his people, they would have come to his aid if they ever noticed that he was in distress. They would have noticed. Where he came from, people were never alone, they cared for one another. Each man had a brother in the next and each woman could count a fellow female as her sister. One big family.

The reverie had to end, his bowel was in turmoil. He looked for the hero inside him since he was devoid of choices. He bent down slowly and eased out the laces from his rubber shoes, he used them to tie both legs of his trousers just above the ankles. He used tight knots. Then, he stood and let go. It was accompanied by sweet relief and thunderous clatter. He was done in a moment. He turned and looked all around him. Nobody noticed!!