So it turns out that there is a third part to this story after all. To properly put this into some historical context; there was indeed a time when Nigeria was clearly under hegemonic rule and I dare I was a little bit more poetic in my writing. So I took some poetic license to er, cast this narrative into a short play, complete with mock accents. In truth then as now, some times the only way to fully convey Nigeria’s absurdities is to fictionalize it in absurdist theatre. Here is my stab at life imitating art.
CASTING STONES – 3
This is the third and concluding part of the trilogy “Casting Stones”. This setting is a lavishly furnished conference room… there is a special screening of nominees for high government posts.
The chairman of the Screening Committee is a squat man, in an incongruous but finely cut suit. He has a head like an enormous pumpkin; he is greying at the temples, and speaks in a deliberate dribbling drawl. He is proficient at Casting Stones.
His assistant, wearing a simple French Suit is almost an antithesis. He is tall, slim, easily excitable, with the hurried elocution of a Gatling gun. He is incredibly naïve, in his honesty and sense of fair play….
CHAIRMAN: (Imperiously) Next!
A rotund figure wearing a richly decorated, and distinctly Northern Baba Riga, topped by an embroidered fez emerges.
CHAIRMAN: Dr. Musa I presume?
MAN: Yes Dr. Musa don resume.
CHAIRMAN: Sir, according to your Curriculum Vitae, you are a Doctor… am I correct and…
ASSISTANT: (butts in) what is your discipline; which University awarded you your Doctorate?
MAN: I go am for “al-bacity” for pin-land.
CHAIRMAN: You mean Finland? (Man nods) Ah very good, very good…
ASSISTANT: (again buts in) But Sir, you did not include the necessary details of your education, we don’t seem to have copies of your academic certificate, and accompanying proof of attendance of all those institutions listed.
MAN: Ah! You mean my patikulars bah? Ah forget am for Yar-port.
CHAIRMAN: Not to worry your references are impeccable, you will soon be hearing from us. Thank you for your time… (Man makes it exit).
ASSISTANT: (aghast) How can you possibly want to approve his nomination as head of the economy? Can’t you see that the man is a stark illiterate! Jesus Chriiist! You can’t…
CHAIRMAN: (brusquely interjects) enough! Quota system says he is qualified, and federal character affirms, he is qualified. Next!
A bespectacled small framed man makes his entry. He is dressed in the classic “shirt and tie” of bureaucrats. Small wonder, he was an efficient and honest Civil Servant for twenty years.
CHAIRMAN: (aggressively) why did you leave the Civil Service, were you sacked?
MAN: (Firmly but politely) No Sir, I left on my own accord, after twenty years of service, in pursuit of a degree in Law.
CHAIRMAN: (Unimpressed) So you are a lawyer eh; where did you study your own law.
ASSISTANT: (before man can reply) According to his C.V. Sir, he qualified as a lawyer with a “first class” at the University of Lagos. And during his employment in the Civil Service, he was head of statistics, head of finance, and a director in the Central Bank. He was absolved totally of any guilt or involvement in the infamous “10 billion Naira C.B. fraud”
CHAIRMAN: (his intransigence showing) So? I don’t care if he has a tenth Class in Statistics, I am not satisfied. How can a man be in such places and not be corrupt? He must be one of those “holier than thou” Nigerians. Thank you for your time mister.
MAN: (looking incredulously) will that be all Sir, I was hoping that…
CHAIRMAN: (curtly) That will be all!
ASSISTANT: (as man slowly exits) That wasn’t fair at all. You didn’t even give him a chance at all, I think…
CHAIRMAN: (interjecting) Think what ever you like, I will not approve his nomination. I don’t like hypocrites…Next!
ASSISTANT: (shakes his head in disbelief, as another man enters)
The man, wearing a resplendent agbada, throws a “one thousand five hundred” Salute. He obviously knows the chairman personally. They both are senators.
MAN: (confidently easing his back into the chair) So how’s life?
CHAIRMAN: Well we are patching up. This austerity is really biting hard. How’s Madam?
MAN: Which one? You know I have just acquired another one, this one is young and succulent “SwitSisteen” (He breaks out in rude laughter)
CHAIRMAN: (laughing out loud) Yes, it’s best to catch them young these days.
ASSISTANT: (Puzzled, he makes a futile effort to inject some seriousness into the whole business).
Excuse me Gentleman but…
CHAIRMAN: (Giving him a withering look) Yes, what is it! Can’t a man joke with an old friend?
MAN: (to Chairman) Don’t mind him Joe, all these hypocrites…
ASSISTANT: (Piqued) look here Sir…
CHAIRMAN: (To Assistant angrily) I am in charge here, and anything I say goes – goes. (Turning to Man) You will be hearing from us soon (Man confidently makes his exit)
ASSISTANT: (shocked beyond belief) This is incredible, isn’t that Senator Thief Man, who appropriated the twenty million Naira special fund for drought victims?
CHAIRMAN: So! What’s wrong with a man who is ambitious, we want ambitious, imaginative, and decisive people. Men like the “honourable” Senator. I will approve his nomination.
ASSISTANT: But that man is dishonest, unpatriotic and dangerous
CHAIRMAN: Who isn’t, (hisses) All you hypocrites, always seeing the speck in other people’s eyes.
THE PUNCH, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 1983