The madman of Ado Ekiti
He was more famous in Akure, that madman of Ado Ekiti.
How else did we hear so many of his exploits on the streets of Akure than they did in his home town of Ado?
And how come he was considered a madman in Akure but respected as the pride of sanity in Ado Ekiti?
And at what point did he become synonymous with our country Nigeria?
It is because of that fact that he now features in the travels of Trouble. First two stories about his madness.
One time like this the Madman was taking a walk around the market at its busiest.
Buying and selling was all over the place and money was being made and gained.
The Madman stopped to contemplate the activities of the people of the market.
Did they know what they were buying? Did the sellers know what they were selling?
He was stark naked “logonto,” with dirt forming his only coverlet. His hair was tangled and twisted. He had a bandanna above his eyebrows over his unruly hair.
He stood thinking of those who are selling what they do not know and those who are buy what they have no knowledge of. He decided he would teach the people of the market a lesson they would never forget.
He found a basket, which he filled with human waste tastefully and delicately wrapped in ọran leaves filled up to the middle of the basket.
Then he placed delicately and beautifully wrapped solid corn pap.
Then above all, he laid moin-moin of the seven hearts of egg yoke, snail, tiny fishes, cray fish, fish egg, red onion and ground nut paste. He carried his market-ready produce and went to the middle of the market.
“Every thing one-one naira!” he shouted to all the market. “Come and buy!”
And as they crowded over the basket, scrambling to buy and pay, he walked away singing:
“Pay them no mind, my friends! They will soon hit shit, my friends!”
The second story goes like this. One hot afternoon, Madman was standing by the side of the road contemplating his nails.
How come, he wondered, that the nails of his thumbs were not the same size?
The left nail was shorter than the right nail. Yet both thumbs were the same length.
And why was he only now noticing their difference, having lived with them all his life?
There was a screech of tyres and the passenger side of an air conditioned Lexus spoke to me:
“Where is the road to government house?”
Madman looked at the speaker and said: “Come again?”
The speaker asked the same question: “Where the hell is the road to government house?”
Madman looked towards his front. He looked to his back. Then he looked left and he then looked right. He said:
Wallahi Tallahi! As I dey so, I know no which place I dey! How I go know where you dey go, ehn?
And he walked away to study his thumbs.
Nigeria goes by various descriptions. It has been described as a developing country.
It has been said to be a country on the point of take off. It has been said to be a job in hand, an experiment on the go, all manner of talk-talk.
Remember the simple Algebra problem of old? The one about there being three pipes A, B and C.
Pipes A and B are filling a tank while the largest pipe C is leaking the water.
How long will it take the tank to fill up? The simple answer would be Never! As long as nobody does anything about the leaking pipe, the tank will never fill up.
So here are the two stories of Nigeria that ensure its madness in some places and its sanity in other places.
How many people are in Nigeria? After all, for any meaningful development to take place, there is need to know how many people we need to develop, how many people need to help to develop themselves and how many people need to be put to work for development.
We do not know how many we are. How many of us are old and how many are young. How many are beggars and how many are genuine.
There was a time when it mattered whether there are more people in the North than are in the South.
Today it does not matter. What matters is what talent is available in the national pool that can be depended upon to feed the country.
What matters is the readiness to meet the world and say here I am, use my talent! That’s what the market should be about, not about buying and selling what neither seller nor buyer know and understand. Country, know yourself!
The second story has to do with Nigeria and its daily, that is everyday, effort of devalue-ing its own work.
This is being done by the country keeping a multiple exchange rate for onwards of twenty or more years.
Maintaining a multiple exchange rate for too long is a recipe for self-economic-destruction.
Traders of international need cannot plan ahead because they do not know the value of the naira tomorrow.
How can the country develop, along with other developing countries, when its currency has no fixed value?
Yet, everyday, Nigerians empty their treasury into the international receptacle through paying foreign exchange for school fees, hospital fees, hajj fees, holiday fees, food fees, tokunbo of everything fees, and pocket money fees, and don’t you forget tithe fees!
Some of the banking fees are in foreign exchange and in naira as well.
Just as the stories of the Madman have no meaning for anyone, including the Madman himself, the stories of Nigeria do not matter to anyone, least of all Nigeria.
Yet, we want to develop, we want to take off, we want to industrialise, join the leading nations of the world as a world leader. We deceive ourselves as the tank with the leaking pipe will never be full.
We stand still as the Madman who does not know where he is and so cannot aid anyone else to find their way forward.
Perhaps there is really no way forward until we stand where the Madman stands, taking stock of our place and seeing the future at the bottom of the basket.
Kọle Ọmọtọṣọ, 05/09/2018, email@example.com