The sun's heat radiates off the asphalt, its greyish hue a testament to its blackness, once upon a time. As the keke speeds along, houses and potholes soon give way to a long stretch of untarred road, punctuated by uneven dips and bumps.
A conversation is going on in Hausa between one occupant of the keke, a man, who sits at the far end on the right, and the driver.
“So the keke is your own?” the man asks.
“Yes. I paid cash for it. As I am now, I’ve almost complete money to buy one for my younger brother.”
“How old are you?”
“Sixteen years old,” the boy replies. “My brother is fourteen.”
He says he makes ever one hundred thousand naira a month. But that’s not his only source of income.
All we do when we get there is say,
‘Sai Baba! Vote for Baba! He has done well for us’.
Then they pay us twenty thousand naira.”
"Every week?" the man asks.
“So, are you going to vote Baba?” he asks.
“No o! Me, I’m just making my money.”
The car trundles along the clogged up streets, teeming with people. Although here and there, figures in jalabiyas and hijabs occasionally line the periphery, the crowd is made up of men and boys. A big politician has arrived in town,....
We’re instructed to park and wait, until the bulk of the crowd has gone by; it’s no use trying to go against the current, they advise.
However, from idle chatter and snatches of conversation, I realise that I may be wrong about that loyalty.“
A few metres away, there is a sudden stampede.
At some point, the mass of bodies shift and the sight that meet the eyes is one that’s so surreal, it beggars belief.
As each carton touches the ground, it is ripped open and its content...
Cough syrup with codeine.
That is the label on the bottles.
They celebrate their “payment.” This politician is a good man, they say. They will vote him and his candidate in the next election.
“We’re finished in this country,” he says.
An automatic counter declaration rises in my chest but gets stuck somewhere in my throat. Weak, I nod in mute agreement, over and over.
Abdul is our popular neighbourhood mai-ruwa. Whenever water stops running, you can count on him to fetch you gallons of clean water.
After missing for some days, Abdul reappears.
“Abdul, where you go? We no come see you again,” I say.
He regales me with tales of his visit. His father is fine; a cousin got married, and a brother’s wife gave birth to a baby girl. The part of the tale which interests me most is about his PVC, how quickly he got it.
Yes, Chad. He says that every day, new ones come. Men, mostly. They all have PVCs and will be voting in next year’s election. According to him, they’re here to ‘support us.’
1. Just in case you thought this country was bad, I want to let you know that it’s worse.
2.There are some of you who go about saying that our votes don’t count. You even tell others this lie.
So, if you’re thinking of boycotting elections, don’t be stupid. Or unfortunate. Get ready to go out and vote!
These political fights and wrangling on Twitter and Facebook are nothing. I’m not saying that they don’t make any impact. I’m saying that offline, is a vastly different story.
Even if you’re not a registered or card carrying member of any political party, at least do your utmost to campaign for better governance.
It’s good to write online; keep that same energy offline.
Many people out there looking for a guide and often, someone to tell them who to vote for. They need you.
Are you going to be the voice in your community? Will you keep quiet and let the liars...
Will you start a fight among your brothers and sisters over who is the Messiah or not?
After reading this, what exactly are you going to do, to contribute to making things better?
I just hope we'll wake up soon, in time to turn away from the precipice to which we're headed.
Over and out.
I know, today, I'm serious. I'll resume my humorous threads later.