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‘Many people can’t see through political satire’

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Book reviewer, Mr. Ladipo Soetan (left); Mr. and Mrs. Bami and Ernest Edgar; the author, Mr. Joseph Edgar; his wife, Foluke and director of the planned adaptation of the book into play, Mr. Kenneth Uphopho at the recent presentation of Loud Whispers at Terra Kulture… in Lagos

Book reviewer, Mr. Ladipo Soetan (left); Mr. and Mrs. Bami and Ernest Edgar; the author, Mr. Joseph Edgar; his wife, Foluke and director of the planned adaptation of the book into play, Mr. Kenneth Uphopho at the recent presentation of Loud Whispers at Terra Kulture… in Lagos

Satirical writing though a serious form of writing is sugarcoated in hilarity and meant to provoke laughter at the expense of those it is directed. How do Nigerians at the butt of satirical writing receive it? How much satire is on offer in Nigeria and what impact does it make?

Satire is a difficult writing device to execute except in the hands of those who are comically inclined and facetious or wags. This informs the issues in a new book Loud Whispers by a columnist with ThisDay newspaper, Mr. Joseph Edgar. He recently presented the book at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos amid banters at the expense of the author who, it emerged, has also perfected the art of making others the butt of his jabs.

But the author lamented the inability of most people to take or understand the import of satire when it is directed at them. According to him, “At the highest level, some people cannot see through political satire. In some of the cases, the message is missed because of the angle it is coming from”.

A case in point was when he literally ‘chased’ Osun State governor Rauf Aregbesola on Molaji Johnson Avenue in Ikeja and made efforts to catch his attention without luck. He wrote a piece about it, saying he wanted to take him out for lunch and possibly buy fuel in some of the cars in his long convoy especially since he couldn’t find money to pay salaries in his state. In order to soften the blunt edge of the satire, his made a caveat to the effect that Aregbesola was his mentor and someone he looked up to. Interestingly, Edgar said he got a call from the governor’s aid to find out if Edgar truly meant it when he said Aregbesola was his mentor!

In another instance, Edgar recalled, having ‘yabed’ one big politician in his column, he got a call requesting him to also ‘yab’ Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu (the Jagaban) thoroughly in his next column. As he put it, “The book has gone places; it has done a lot of things I didn’t imagine”.

In his typically comic manner, Edgar confessed to poverty for inspiration for compiling Loud Whisper into a book. Although he works in the financial services’ sector, he got a huge school fee bill in the six-digit range and didn’t know how to cope. He then quickly thought of putting his writing together and called his friend and boss of Terra Kulture Mrs. Bolanle Austin-Peters who encouraged him. The result is Loud Whispers.

Reviewer of Loud Whispers, Mr. Ladipo Soetan, said of the book, “Yes, Mr. Edgar’s roving eye, his wit and turn of phrase allow us to laugh at ourselves, to shake our head and drink down a bittersweet broth of shame and pride. Mr. Edgar’s book explains why once it was said that despite all our tribulations Nigerians are the world’s happiest people. For without humor, the Nigerian condition would be insupportable. However, the subtitle of the book tells me that I am not saying anything new.

An interesting aspect to the book is already unfolding, as work has begun on turning it into a stage play. Notable theatre director, Mr. Kenneth Uphopho, is hard at work and said the play would be ready Match next year, with comic star Ali Baba, who wrote the foreword, also playing a major role in the planned adaptation of the play.


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