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Snake in the Monkey’s Shadow


“Bros, do you know the latest movie in naija?” “I’m not much of a movie buff. But I believe it has to do with one human superhero that represents an animal.” “Even mentioning human and animal shows you have an idea.”

“Yes, it’s called ‘The Black Panther!’” “Good guess. I knew you would go for that. But I’m sorry, you are wrong!”

“You mean it’s not?” “It’s not. The Black Panther is now “in the shadow” of this movie.”

“I’m all ears, bro.” “It’s called ‘Snake in the Monkey’s Shadow.’” “But that is an old Chinese movie we saw when we were kids. A kung fu fighter who used snake style and held sway until the hero came and defeated him with monkey style.”


“You are correct. But this latest one is made in naija and sold to naija people.” “Really? Tell me more.”

“You heard about the 36 million naira that was missing in JAMB office but was later said to have been swallowed by a snake?” “Yes, the news is everywhere.”

“You have also heard of one of the Senators saying 70 million naira of the Northern Senators forum has also been carted away by a monkey?” “Carry on.”

“Snake in the Monkey’s Shadow means the news about the snake is now in the shadow of the news of the monkey. In other words the 70 million naira story has overtaken that of 36 million naira. And soon we will all forget the 36 million, until another animal comes to place the monkey in its shadow by upping the ante with probably a billion naira showing. As we speak unconfirmed report is already talking of a dragon for the job.” “Interesting. But I still have some questions to ask. On the snake, what is the colour of the snake? What type of snake is it? Is it a python, a mamba, a viper, a cobra or a boa constrictor? Is it a poisonous snake? How long did it take the snake to swallow the money? Because I know it takes time for a python for example to swallow things. And when they do they rest at that place for a while. But this snake swallowed the thing and disappeared fiam!”

“You have asked your own on snake. Let me ask my own too on monkey. What is the colour of this monkey? Did this monkey come alone? Did it climb a tree to escape or followed a bush path? Can it be recognized? Would a monkey that has taken away 70 million naira be lured back by bananas?” “Haba. A monkey that has taken that kind of money won’t come back because of ordinary banana. Levels have changed. Or if you are the monkey will you come back? Even if for a plea bargain, no monkey worth its banana, sorry worth its millions will ever fall for that.”

“I hear people that put their money in those banks that use animal logos are planning to withdraw their money to other banks.”

“You mean the ones with elephant and horse?” “Exactly.”

“I will sympathize more with the ones with elephant. Its sheer size alone. It can dare anyone to come and collect the money. Then we will not be talking of only money that disappeared. “I am also imagining the scenario.”

“But come o, shouldn’t we place a bounty on the heads of these animals?” “For the bounty to work it has to be something attractive, much larger than the monies we are looking for. Remember, the person who said a snake took the 36 million may have run away not to be swallowed by the snake too, and the one of 70 million may have also run away not to be attacked by the monkey. This monkey may not be alone. You know they are related to humans evolutionarily and so could be armed.” “Na wa. When they said corruption would fight back no one ever reckoned on it using animals.”

“The use of animals to fight dates back to prehistoric times. Humans have used animals such as dogs and horses to fight battles even in modern military and police. Don’t you know the law is an ass? Oh, another animal.”

“And no one knows if these animals are still alive, for they could have swallowed these monies and died somewhere from money poisoning or intestinal obstruction.”  “You are speaking jargon.”

“Ok o. But this job might in the end go beyond the police, EFCC, and ICPC to involve snake charmers, zoo keepers, zoologists and forensic experts. Animal flesh may decay, but money should not really decay like that na.”  “Am happy for the devil who has always been blamed for things like this. It’s no longer “it’s the work of the devil.” He can now rest from all the false accusations. Now is the turn of animals to carry the can.”

“”Animalism” is gradually creeping into our culture. From common sense, it will be “animal sense” the type the late Afrobeat singer Fela Kuti sang about.” Animals on the rise, President rats, JAMB snake, Senator monkey.

“Honestly speaking, Fela’s beasts of no nation have found home in naija.  Soon gorillas will be employed to be body guards, political thugs, and ballot box snatchers. Know it, the role of animals is just booting.” “Of course the genesis was when for the first time in our history cow lives were valued over human lives. That gave the animals the audacity.”

“This country has sold her soul. This country has been turned into a zoo. This is a country where leadership means monkeying around. This is a country where governance is monkey business. This is a country where the people are taken for ‘monkey banana.’” “But even if the 70 million naira monkey is found and willingly returns the money is it safe to collect it back?”

“Why not, what is your fear?”

“Have you not heard of monkeypox? We are wary of humans who “repent”  how much more an animal that has a disease to its name.” “As usual a special committee or task force or whatever name they will call it will be set up to look into these cases of animal thievery.”

“Maybe the two cases will be harmonised.” “Again, this is a nation where committees are in the shadow of committees, panels are in the shadow of panels, and reports are in the shadow of reports. Even now the last administration’s National Conference is already in the shadow of ‘Restructuring.’” “In that case I fear for the Chibok girls.”

“How?” “With the abduction of the Dapchi girls government might forget the Chibok girls, or as you said the Chibok girls may be in the shadow of the Dapchi girls.”

“Lai lai! Chibok girls will never be allowed to be in the shadow of the Dapchi girls.”
“I agree with you! This government swore to protect all Nigerians, it must find the Dapchi girls as well as the remaining Chibok girls, as well as our money to the last kobo!”

“But my fear is that with this government now distracted by 2019 elections, the latest movie might no longer be Snake in the Monkey’s Shadow, but Nigerians in the Second Term’s Shadow.”

“2019? I say, tufiakwa!”

Dr Odoemena, is a medical practitioner, wrote from Lagos

In this article:
Cosmas Odoemena
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