This was a fun piece, taking a satirical look at the politicians of the Second Republic. I suppose the description is still applicable to most of the politicians of the Fourth Republic too. I chuckle at the youthful poetic license and the somewhat cartoonish archetype employed to satirize Nigerian politicians. Even so, judging by their filching, lying DNA, they might as well be from another planet…Nah… They are Nigerians like you and me. Enjoy
Politicians are an intriguing lot. Someone once described them as “Somebody who sits on the fence, and still manages to have both ears on the ground”. This, of course, is not expected to be taken literally, but with all the contortions, and convolutions, they manage so nicely… they are a very elastic lot. It is this ability to stretch the polity to such absurd proportions, to ultimately suit themselves, that makes them so unique.
Politicians in the main, are generally the same, irrespective of what nation they are from, or what democratic disguise they wear. But here, a distinction must be made between a politician and a statesman. A politician, it is said, “thinks of the next elections, while a true statesman, on the other hand, thinks of the next generation…” A few words, but they paint the picture, so exactly.
Nigeria is overflowing, almost inundated by politicians, but we suffer an unfortunate dearth of statesmen. If only we could trade in our superfluity of politicians, for a handful of committed statesmen, this country would be on its feet in no time at all…but so much for wishes.
Politicians are notorious for their ambivalence, or in Orwellian terms, ‘doublespeak’; they say one thing and they mean another; they are also noted for their easy and elastic conscience. Politicians, people say, “can sell their own mothers if the price was right.” I
t is against this unsavoury backdrop, that the stereotypical politician emerges. His physiology varies, from tall and huge, way down to short and chubby, with all the possible combinations in between; but one thing seems to be consistent… their pot bellies.
Although admittedly, not all politicians have potbellies or indeed display the more unscrupulous qualities that typify their kind, for most people, a politician will forever remain a politician —insincere, venal, astute, and with a pot belly! That pot belly, if nothing else, is a symbolic repository of all the lies, insincerity, and graft that our stereotypical politician consumes in his career.
We now narrow our perspectives to the stereotypical Nigerian politician and embark on an anatomical excursion through him. We shall start our journey from his feet and work our way up to the head. During our odyssey, we shall personalise his anatomy in order to anatomise his personality, which will ultimately enable us to piece together the jigsawed fragments into a composite personality picture.
Our prototype is male, aged fifty years (though he swears he is forty) and is about 1.65 metres tall.
His ethnic background is unimportant, as is his identity; he is just the canvas on which we hope to paint an amusing picture. Our politician, Mr X, is nobody in particular, but everybody in general… The journey starts.
FEET: Size eight, with scarred mementoes from his bare-footed childhood. Although looking at them now, you wouldn’t now guess that these were the same feet that traversed the ten miles to and from his father’s little hut to the village school every day. Nowadays, whenever he needs a manicure, he simply wangles an official “fact-finding” tour to Zurich, where his chiropodist resides … all on the tax payers neck (who else?)
CALVES: Sturdy and muscular from all those years of trekking, and conditioned by endless tree climbing during his truant-playing days, in primary school. He also played football during his short stay at the teacher training school. But his short legs didn’t take him far…so he stopped. Nowadays, he does very little walking, and the last time he walked continuously for over three miles (during an inspection tour) his calves ached terribly, especially around that scar on his left calf.
That scar was caused by a snake. He was taking a short-cut home through the bushes one evening when the snake bit him. It was a very unfortunate incident indeed… for the snake died! Anyway, he survived and so did his calf.
KNEES: He is knock-kneed, which accounts for his serrated and uneven gait. And the last time there was an unsuccessful coup attempt, his knees “knocked” even more. They were trembling like leaves in a storm. And now, any flash of army green, and they buckle.
THIGHS: He had thick strong thighs in his youth, but everything is now becoming fatty. And now, with every step he takes, they rub against each other violently.
GENITALS: This is easily the most overworked part of his anatomy. That which was essentially designed for the ejection of liquid for bodily- wastes, and reproduction, is now almost exclusively being used for recreational purposes. And in his blind pursuit of his amorous desires, no female is too young or old, for the end justifies the means.
Even if it means regularly buying exotic cars, and giving expensive gifts and treats to favoured girlfriends. The by-product of all this, are numerous children, sired by him, and scattered nationwide. But he has been warned by his doctors that the possibilities of him acquiring a permanent ‘memento for life’ by the name HERPES SIMPLEX II are great; especially if he does not stop his frequent intercontinental jaunts … (that’s if he hasn’t acquired it already!).
STOMACH: This is the most capacious part of his anatomy. Years ago, when he was a small time clerk in the civil service, he possessed a fine trim stomach. But as the years rolled by, and his diet improved as well as his finances, his stomach now a shiny parabolic belly has come to symbolise his success as a ‘big man’ in the society.
It is distended and he is now plagued by ulcers and various other gastric problems. The immense roundness and size of his stomach are middle-aged presumably because of all the “chopping” he is doing, and symbolically, a lot of money has been ingested into that cavern of a stomach… and there is still space for more! But whatever he might lack in ‘intestinal fortitude’ or ‘guts’, he compensates for with space.
CHEST: They are sagging under layers of fat that threaten to constrict him. And the luxuriant black crop of hair that grew on his chest as a young man – which was the envy of his male friends, and the attraction his female ones – is still there …only now, it’s almost all white.
HEART: We now take a peek into his chest to see his heart…but we find none, and so we move on.
ARMS: Short, chunky, and hairy (grey hairs). They are both covered by an insulating layer of fat, as indeed the rest of his body. This thick leathery skin is the final topcoat that insulates him from public criticism, and the otherwise shameful reality of his lies, and his past atrocities catching up with him. The truth just bounces off him.
HANDS: He has small and meaty palms, and short and grubby fingers, that are surprisingly very prehensile. These fingers come in handy for clutching at the bosom of the fairer sex, or surreptitiously receiving his cut from numerous ‘under-the-table deals’.
NECK: A fattened short and thick pillar that supports an equally thick head.
HEAD: On the whole, the most vacuous part of his anatomy. His mouth ends with two thick and rubbery lips that constantly articulate, spewing forth a deluge of lies, misinformation and calumny against opponents and who ever cares to listen.
TEETH: He flashes them at the least available opportunity, and with the campaigning having started, we are sure to see lots of them, permanently fixed in synthetic smiles.
TONGUE: it is the most articulate of the oral triad, constantly waggling out press denials, double talk, false promises, and generating enough saliva to drown a cat.
EYES: bloodshot, cold, and flat, like the eyes of the proverbial snake under the green grass, constantly darting furtively, looking for a quick contract, or a quick kill somewhere; they fail to smile when the rest of the face agrees to smile…even in genuine cases.
EARS: Thick and fleshy, ever ready to hear juicy bits of gossip about him and the rest of his kind, but never the loud plaintive wailings of a people in travail.
CRANIUM: We now take a look into his cranium. There was something substantial there before, in his younger days, but as the years rolled by, the brain atrophied (from lack of use) into a knotty congealed lump, which is barely visible in the spaciousness of the cranium. And now, anytime he shakes his head (to deny an allegation), this lump violently strikes the inner walls of the cranium, emitting an annoying rattle, much like a baby’s rattle.
HAIR: he has now fallen victim to middle age; his hairline is receding, and although he tried dyeing it a couple of times, his hair is greying fast. He is now a grey-haired middle-aged man … though he will swear to you, and before anybody, that he is forty!
Saturday, October 30, 1982