Hope is quenched when we die. Maybe tomorrow will be better, Mama Esan thought out loudly pondering what she was going to do next as she stood on her feet. She is awake now. Still a voice echoed in her head: what if it is true that tomorrow never comes. Then she sat down again, and wept.
The Kings Are Mad (Part 1)
By Adeola Aderounmu
Mama Esan ran out of the house. The rain was heavy. She quickly cleared her stall and salvage the remaining items she could grab. Earlier that day she had hoped that things would get better and that her dreams would come true. The heavy rain destroyed almost everything including her temporary stall, her wares and then some parts of the house itself. The roof is always the first part you can imagine.
Her husband has been jobless for 7 years. The dwindling economic fortunes and the total collapse of infrastructure especially the absence of power supply led many companies to shut done their operations. Some of them declared bankruptcy just as a way of getting out of the unrealistic economic environment. If I want food, it doesn’t mean I have to be able to manufacture a gas cooker or an electric heater, one of the affected CEOs declared, proverbially. Then he went to another land.
All of Mama Esan’s children have been withdrawn from their different schools. No one had expected that the cost of education will be so high. No one thought a time would come when there will be no food on the table. But like a pestilence the day came.
In mama Esan’s existence, hope no longer seems to have a place. For her, only vengeance was sure if she could have one. Mama Esan knew though that her situation was not an isolated one. Many people suffer similar fate as she does. Life no longer presented them with choices. For some people the dictionary can as well be rewritten and the non-applicable words deleted.
There is a man called Chinedu. The first time mama Esan saw her was around 1985. He was just a boy. At that time he enjoyed a lot of facilities. But all of those (fading) facilities and infrastructure soon disappeared completely. The best thing in his life was that he got the education he wanted. This was not possible in every part of the land.
When he left high school in 1990 Chinedu decided to try his hands on business and he started as a learner. He learnt the buying and selling trade and gained his freedom when he became an expert. Then he was able to rent an apartment though he was a bachelor at that time. He had his eyes on the future.
However since 1993 no one knew or understood what went wrong. Perhaps people just denied the knowledge of what went wrong with their lives. Some people said the gods got angrier, and others said their ancestors are now restless. Some people read the new foreign holy books and thought they found new hopes.
If anyone had told Chinedu that he was going to be living from hand to mouth in 2014 he would have sworn to Amadiora, one of the gods he knew before 1985, that that day will never come. He would have called the Alusi, if he knew how, to strike the speaker of the strange words.
Now married with children, Chinedu can no longer afford the cost of running his business. It’s too hard now to tend a family. He is terrified everyday and he had seen some people landed in prisons after attempting to push hard drugs as a way to keep their businesses going. The law is not effective but it always catches up with the people who need protection the most, if they erred. One of his friends died with foam puffing from his mouth. The wraps of cocaine inside of him exploded before he could deliver them.
The power generating plants kept breaking down and the cost of petrol for home and business became unbearable. Chinedu gave up. One day he survived an unexpected explosion. The generator was bad but he didn’t know about it. Now, he’s not sure if he should move back to his village with his family. He can go back to his grandfather’s farmland. He is afraid he may be called a failure. His mind kept roaming, as he ponders on the alternative “businesses” of armed robbery and kidnapping. By resisting the temptations, he thought he had rebuked the devil.
Some people think that the devil exists and that he is male. People think the devil should be blamed for all the negative things in life. When he was a student, Chinedu learnt about the culture and mythology of the people in Ebute Meta. He was held spellbound when he learnt that the devil was not Esu. He knows now that it was the invaders who taught about the devil.
Among all the tribes in the land, the people of Ebute Meta, Amuwo and Araromi have no version of the devil in their existence and traditional institutions. It was also the foreigners who invented the term religion and misapplied it. Ignorance ruined the minds of men and they thought that the white man’s devil is the Esu in Ifa’s mythology. Ifa is not a religion; it is a way of life and the explanation for everything associated with mankind.
It was about time the human race laid the blame for global ruins at own doorsteps. Man is responsible for the evil deeds in the world, not an imaginary demon. Man created religion and a place in his own heart called “devil”. Ifa is not human but it can admittedly be either good or bad depending on the man that applies it. When people find evil in (d)evil, maybe they will be convinced that both terms are the inventions of ordinary mortals.
Many people in Ebute Meta are happy for the knowledge that came their way through basic education. But they are now sad because of their misfortunes. What they have learnt have seen them through many life changing experiences. Their hope is that the prevailing problems they encounter will pass away. But what are they doing about these new problems?
There was a man who left Ebute Meta. He went to a very far place in the land called Abuja. He was in search of fulfilment and his name was Muyiwa. He was killed in a bomb explosion. The bomb was set off by the dissidents in Abuja. No one can see the future unless the gods smile down on them and when risks are not taken sometimes, it’s hard to tell what the outcomes could be. After more than 10 years as a jobless engineer in Ebute Meta, this young man was exterminated. He was just 37, which is 3 years shy of age when they say life begins.
Muyiwa was a brilliant man and he was originally from the village of Eniyansoro. He had been told of a job opportunity in the far place. He thought he’d try out his luck. The debt he owed to get to this place of death will never be paid back. The dissidents from the North have now come to Abuja. People say they are also mad because they do not believe in visions but accepted the foreign teaching that they will be alive as martyrs in an unknown place by killing innocent people in suicide missions.
The king of Abuja is foolish. He believes in the devil so he did nothing about this evil when it showed its ugly head. All his life, all he-the king-wanted is power and he chose to dine with the “devil” because he had a choice. He had learnt from his youth that he could dine with the devil by using a very long spoon.
Many of the previous Kings of Abuja are known to have suddenly perished. Some people say the gods must be crazy in this land because they first make the kings deaf and then they destroyed them. But the gods are not crazy. They are probably amused.
Even so because the various kings in the different parts of the land are hypocrites who pretend about the new religions while possessing deep seated intuitions about the gods and they always thought that sacrifices are better than obedience. So they-the kings-make many ceremonies and they give away many unsuspecting fools as living sacrifices. The biggest human sacrifices have always been in Abuja and towards the North of the land.
Money and gold can make people to stop thinking, so they don’t see the evil that other men have planted in their ways. Another selected delegate to the king’s ceremony died 2 days ago and still people want to blame the devil. If the king can kill one of his brothers, who can be free from his thirst for power?
When people are hungry, they also sometimes unknowingly sell their souls. They have no food because many of them left for the cities. They thought they will get rich in the cities. Now with fewer jobs, many of them have no money as well. So the people also said that money is the root of all their problems. How can the people know that the devil is not a demon and that he does not exist? Men clothe their hearts as devils and propagate evil despite the knowledge of the truth with which they were born.
Mama Esan thought about the religiosity of all the kings that she knew: in Ebute Meta, in Abuja and even in the North. Then she wondered who God is and his relationship to Olodumare. This was the first time in her life that she gained awareness of her own thinking about religion. The present king of Abuja took religion to an absurd horizon. No king before him adopted religion as widely and open as he does today. Yet, it is now that the greatest devastations beseech the land. Mama Esan became really confused.
She was not finished with her thoughts. She knows a lot about many of the books her children read when they returned from school. The stories are mostly sad stories. In history, in geography and even in science books, she listened when her children study about many diseases and how some of them are incurable. She’ll be sad if there are no ways for the children to return to school. We are in a hopeless situation, she said to herself. Then she thought that she had a voice in her head “We become religious because we are afraid of death. Yet we die and become dust”.
She woke up drowned in her sweat. She thought about Muyiwa. Ebute Meta is not a big place. Bad news travel fast. She knew about the travails of Muyiwa and many young people in Ebute Meta. She remembered the day Muyiwa and his friends came to her and ask for some items on credit. She overheard him when he told his friends about a foreign film called Fried Green Tomatoes that he had seen and that his favourite line in the movie set in the 1920s was: no one would leave this earth alive.
One day, in order to start a discussion, mama Esan asked her neighbour: what is the meaning of premonition? One of her children had said that he thought Muyiwa had a premonition he was going to die in a far (foreign) place and that was why he talked about the foreign drama and death.
All that is foreign cannot be evil. The power of discernment is one of the greatest gifts the gods left to the people when they departed from Araromi. Muyiwa was philosophical while his travails lasted. He spoke of the several millions like him and wondered from where their hope cometh. He died along with several other innocent people. His hope never materialised and his body parts were shattered. Life can be cruel even to the kind. The evil in the hearts of men and kings does not discern because they think it is the devil’s work.
With all sorts of religions, vices and crimes are committed in the land. The taste of foreign religions left the people in this land in the rhythm of the shadows of mental slavery. It became more devastating because somehow they were not able to differentiate between rites and faith.
This king of Abuja became a master in the philosophy of modern religion. The dissidents from the North have their own ideas about it. The people are suffering and there is confusion everywhere.
From everything the people hear and see they also fail to realise that their freedom and way back to prosperity will lie in their power to discern. They must know the truth so that they can be free. Else there is a risk they will become slaves to anything that they do not understand.
Muyiwa was one of those who believed that life started and will end on earth. He had a premonition but he didn’t know it. He was a kind fellow and he lived in peace with everybody though his heart was always troubled in his private moments.
Hope is quenched when we die. Maybe tomorrow will be better, Mama Esan thought out loudly pondering what she was going to do next as she stood on her feet. She is awake now. Still a voice echoed in her head: what if it is true that tomorrow never comes.
Then she sat down again, and wept.
(Watch out for part 2)