Comic incompetence: Trouble
The Peter Principle started as a research joke. The idea that promotion leads to incompetence sounds illogical. The reason for promotion is that one has performed well in the present position. Why would performance at the next level be impossible? Demotion does not set in if there is incompetence in the present position! Anyway, it soon became a management mantra that it is possible to be promoted beyond one’s capacity. No one laughs now at the Peter Principle. But what about comic incompetence? When will comic incompetence be taken seriously enough to be prevented? Contempt becomes hatred and hatred grows to life threatening disgust. Lady A can no longer imagine living in the same world with Lady B. Lady A procures poison brewed out of the struggle of the most poisonous creatures. A venomous snake, a terrible spider and a deadly scorpion are locked in a jar and the jar is closed for seven days.
When it is opened on the seventh day only the venomous snake was still breathing. During the days of struggle it had eaten the poison of the other two. The snake was killed, dried and ground into powder. This is the poison that Lady A bought to tease into the foods of Lady B. Lady A had been warned to take it easy, but take it. She was to put the poison in the foods small small. There were no measures in mg and such like. Therefore Lady A could not say when she had put enough poison to kill her enemy. It was as a result of this situation that Lady A would put the poison in the food meant for Lady B and put he finger in the soup to taste if the poison was enough. Everyday she followed the same routine: put poison taste for sufficiency!
There are comic incompetence stories with lighter consequences.Remember the case of the goalkeeper who would wish to become another Maradona in front of the goal posts, dribbling an opponent forward one, two, maybe three before kicking the ball to the opposite end of the field. Except that where the ambush lay, the battle did not there stay! The forward attacked. The ball rolled oh so leisurely into the goalmouth as a score for the opponents. The goalkeeper just looked on, his eyes and mouth wide open.
What about the number one citizen, who was, according to his uncorroborated story, was tear-gassed. The tear gas turned his neck and a carpenter found a neck brace which a bricklayer but on his neck. It looked so awkward and impossible nobody bought his story. There were recommendations that he should join a travelling Theatre company to show off his acts.
We even have the story of the performing lawyer. Of course, every lawyer is a performer, an actor male and female, begging for the audience to believe the truthfulness of their performance. And hoping the presiding magistrate or judge will be carried away by his or her performance and award him the Oscar of the case as winner.
Well it happens that one day the script that the lawyer was trying to act for the judge was not easy to believe. The lawyer’s client was accused of a felony. The client said, and his lawyer acted that it was his brother who had committed the felony. The brother was a half brother only, they shared a common father. They looked alike. They had been born around the same season. They were often mistaken one for the other. And most importantly for the case, the brother was late, dead, passed on. The court audience, like the judge were surprised at the convenience of the death of the resembling brother. The prosecuting lawyer brought someone disguised as the client’s father as their mysterious witness. On seeing this witness the lawyer fainted, mouthing the famous words: “O su mi Your Worship. I don tire Your Worship.”
The client shouted: “I don’t have a brother, half or full. I’m an only child of my parents!”The last example of comic incompetence before the discussion about whys and wherefores of comic incompetence is the story of the medicine-man and the bullet-turns-to-water charm. Since Adam and Eve were ejected from the garden by the Landlord and war began, human beings have dreamed of a medication or charm of pill that would turn enemy bullets into water while leaving one’s own bullets to damage one’s enemy. You see the selfishness of human beings? Not a medicine or charm that would turn all bullets into water on contact but only enemy bullets.
A medicine man on the other side of the bridge found the formula and he told a soldier who wanted such a charm. The medicine man had gone into the forest and to stagnant lakes and pools where water lilies rode the waves. He had collected roots that tap water too and ground all together. He had also prepared the incantation that says: “Be and it is – kun fayakun!”
In scientific research all experiments must be repeatable. The day of testing the medication and its charm arrived. The medicine man was sure of himself, his medicine and it’s incantation. The choice of a gun to deliver the bullet did not matter. Even the type of bullet did not matter either. The soldier is a modern fighter and so it must be a modern gun. None of the sakabula used during the Kiriji war would do! After all a soldier might be confronted by a silencered gun! So, a double action rifle was chosen and .22 bullets were selected. There was some argument about using heavier bullets but .22 bullets were chosen. The question now was: Who should be shot? A goat is out of question because a goat will not understand how to say the incantation. This is not Nollywood or Hollywood. The medicine man, owner of the product to be tested insisted that he will receive the first test shots. Who will shoot him? Here was a challenge. Nobody wanted to shoot the medicine man. If matters become otherwise nkọ? The medicine man agreed to shoot himself. He died instantly from his gun wounds. Which meant that the bullets, small as they were, did not turn to water.
Hubris, pride, pomposity, these are the causes of comic incompetence. If a person can take just one minute before that silly action, imagine the consequences, perhaps there would be an end to comic incompetence.