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Once upon a Monday

By Sam Umukoro
20 November 2021   |   2:43 am
Musa the madman was more popular than the governor of the state. The story of his madness has been hawked about like cheap chinaware from house to house, street to street.

Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria

Musa the madman was more popular than the governor of the state. The story of his madness has been hawked about like cheap chinaware from house to house, street to street.

Some people opined that Musa’s madness started in his student days at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

According to them, Musa was a very brilliant young man who, at year one, was already solving mathematical problems for students who were ahead of him in his department, the Department of Mathematics. His brilliance, they said, shone like a million stars, so much so that even the professors in his department consulted him about mathematical problems they couldn’t solve, which earned him the sobriquet ‘Professor Musa Emeritus’.

Musa’s fame thus travelled far and wide on the campus so that many other students from other departments like Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Physics brought all sorts of mathematical equations for him to solve. It didn’t take long for the University Senate to notice him. In his second year, the Senate sat and decided that, since Musa was very brilliant and already teaching professors, the university should award him a First Class degree without him meeting the mandatory requirement of spending four years studying – but only on condition that he must solve a mathematical problem that professors in the university, dead or alive, had never been able to solve.

When he was given the equation, Musa went about the task of solving it with military dispatch. For days on end, he stayed in his room trying to solve the equation. The news spread around the campus that ‘Professor Musa Emeritus’ was trying to solve a mathematical equation that no professor dead or alive had been able to unravel. Many students kept vigil outside his room; some set up tents in front of his hostel. No one wanted to miss the historic moment when Musa announced to the school authorities and the world that he had found an answer to their question. Entrepreneurs on campus made a brisk business from the event: they printed Musa’s face on T-shirts and caps and sold the merchandise to the students. With bated breath, they all waited for Musa to come out of his room with the answer.

After forty days and forty nights, Musa came out. He stared at the mass of people in front of him for a moment and then burst into hysterical laughter. The crowd cheered, thinking that Musa’s laughter was an indication of his success at solving the mathematical equation.

“Long live Professor Musa Emeritus!” Some hailed from the crowd. Musa’s next move took the crowd by surprise. He took off his clothes till he was completely naked and started screaming: “You can’t get me! You can’t get me! I am like Mandela, triumphant from Robben Island. Yes, I am Chaka the Zulu, with many vassal states under my rule. I am Mai Idris Alooma, visionary leader of Kanem-Bornu Empire. I am Jaja of Opobo, resisting colonialism. I reign like Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire in splendour and wealth. Yes, I am a strong warrior from Africa, you can’t get me!”

It took some time for the crowd to realise that Musa had gone crazy. Pandemonium broke out, the school security men were alerted, and he has whisked away to the school’s Teaching Hospital, where doctors certified him insane. The general opinion was that the mathematical problem drove Musa round the bend.

Another account has it that, before he became mad, Musa was a top security goon for my country’s late dictator who died of food poisoning after eating an exotic fruit from the East. Musa carried out dastardly acts for the late dictator. The late dictator loved him for his bravery and loyalty. In no time, he became the envy of his colleagues and they connived to deal with him.

Musa’ story is a fictional account and an excerpt from my book Once Upon A Monday available on Amazon. Please permit me to use this week to “sell market” to borrow a phrase from my brothers in Alaba. Meanwhile, if you want to read the complete story, you know what to do mate!