By Tunde Asaju
How did Nigeria and Nigerians survive over 60 years of mental abuse by its ruiners? The answer is found in comics. We enjoyed Jossy Ajiboye in newspapers – Lagos Weekend especially where my first satiric mentor Chiji Emuchay reigned supreme. There was the strip on the back page of New Nigerian – Modesty Blaise by Peter O’donnell. At the Herald, we had incredible cartoonists – late Kayode Momolosho and Ofele Ozi Shuaib.
Of course, how could we have survived the 70s and 80s without Moses Olaiya aka Baba Sala, Jesters International duo of Adẹ́rùpọkọ̀ and Jékọ́!
In Kano, you enjoyed Karo da Goma on NTV and Samanja was an iconic item. From the East we had the late Ken Saro-Wiwa’s many tv drama series, there was Icheoku too and Hotel de Jordan with the indomitable Masquerades and The New Masquerades of Chief Zebrudaya. Chief Eleyumi’s Village Headmaster was a national pastime. They were the shrinks of post-independent Nigeria and the list is not exhaustive.
Letely Ali Baba, the Gordons etc have made it into international limelight cracking ribs. Comedy is one way of pulling our nation through its crippling problems whenever it threatens to send people to Aro. We celebrate our scandals and laughing at our calamities – that is how we stay out of trouble. That is how most people avoid the Kirikiri hangman’s noose.
As the nation goes through another crippling fuel scarcity -we still find time to laugh. A Lagos socialite decided to be inventive for her Iwuye ceremony. Probably not as wealthy as Yusuf Buhari who shared the latest phones and iPads at his marriage, this inventive and innovative woman decided to spend her money in giving people free petrol! That was insane altruism – its like someone giving you condom before you could dip in on someone with HIV!
Now she has put people in trouble. The event centre has been closed – fun kini nan ojare. They could have been fined for endangering the lives of their patrons – a seal up of their business increases unemployment and unfair treatment to non-management staff. Remember, when one person is unemployed, at least 19 people are infected and affected by the plague of poverty.
If the lady knows what is best for her, she should ‘surrender’ to be arrested – preferably on Monday or she go suffer till Monday o. And unlike Yusuf, she apologised fa. She did.
We had finally broken our diversity over Abba Kyari – remember, one man’s rogue is another man’s rave. Not long ago, we were all gung-ho about our Abba Kyari, the latest Ize Iyamu. Okay, to those of you who were not here when Lawrence Anini (Ovigbo the Law) terrorized Benin and its axis, his ‘tailor’ was not Abba Kyari, but an inspector named Iyamu. He was tried and executed along with Anini and Monday Osunbor – Nigeria!
We, the north loved our Abba Kyari as the ultimate thief catcher that the Lagos-Ibadan press wanted destroyed after Husspuppi named him as his consultant on home fashion. We could not believe the scam artist. After all, a man who scammed the world into wanton opulence loses his integrity. We promoted Danjuma, who masterminded and actively participated in killing the Apo 6. We are always looking for redemption after most of our leaders have failed us.
We have the ‘maiguards’ who danced themselves into the labour market now being redeemed by good-spirited individuals. They were inventive kids who could have become brand ambassadors. After all, is there a city in Naija without a dancing traffic warden? We love them, why hate on the boys.
Anyway, the comic relief provided by these distractions made us miss a hot debate on what Buhari forgot that he had to return from Arusha for just a few hours only to burn fuel for his two-week London vacation.
They distracted us from talking much about the wizard of Ota, Olúṣẹ́gun Ọbáṣanjọ́ who celebrated his ’85th’ birthday recently. And just when we thought things couldn’t get better, Reuben Apati, sorry, I meant Abati thought we had forgotten him as President Jones’ loquacious spokesman. On air, he demanded courtesy from a reporter. Now, that has made media analysts of everyone with a face on Facebook!
Don’t you just love Nigeria and how we never sit down too deep on anything for too long without having distraction?
Before I go, well, our minister of public holidays The debate has started on why willing female police officers could wear a hijab. Who knows how, where or when it would end?
Everyone’s got a right to decide their comic relief. If we don’t discharge the stress that our nation perpetually infuses on us its citizens, there’d be more to us than there is to crime and criminality in America. Not all of us can subscribe to Sweet Sweet Codeine or enrol in the school of Mpumuimiri.
This is how the French group – #KidsUnited put it their now classic back in the day – chacun sa route, chacun son chemin, chacun son rêve, chacun son destin…chacun sa route, chacun son chemin – passe le mesage a ton voisin!
Wanda bai iya faransanci ya koyi! Na so e be!
• Asaju, a journalist and Media Specialist lives in Canada