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The Question

(I wrote this at the writing workshop I attended recently. It was inspired by the most intelligent company ever, their intellectual discourse *straight face* and a bus ride :D)

They sickened you.

You couldn’t explain your visceral recoil at the sight of the IBB posters; your mood soured, your emotions plummeted and you lost your train of thought to a brief desire to kill.  It didn’t help that the campaign posters were everywhere.

The aftertaste lingered curiously. Why are you angry? – I don’t know. You were not particularly politics-inclined. You had not been old enough to appreciate the evil the Genius had perpetrated. You weren’t zealously patriotic; the country could bloody burn and you would fiddle! Why did you care so much you lost your peace? And why was the fact that it made you lose your peace so upsetting?

The Question haunted you as you circled the city on a bus. It fixed itself in your mind as you ate the sugarcane you filched from a farm. It cooed as you conversed with your family on everything and nothing. It perched on your shoulder as you stopped to sketch the blue hills that are the permanent backdrop of the city. Why are you angry?

The first answer was easy. He’s coming to steal again. And your mind rejected this answer as too crude; such a reason could not provoke such strong emotion from you. I don’t know this man personally, you reasoned. I care nothing for politics; I think they are all bloody thieves. One’s the same as the other. You finished a roll of film in a photographic frenzy at the Millennium Park as you watched the children play. Something about their ecstatic abandon evoked déjà vu. And then you saw another IBB poster. There was no denying your flinch this time.

In a moment of lucidity, you understood. You understood that your distrust and dislike of IBB wasn’t yours. It was a shade of your parents’ as they read in the news, way before you were born, that Dele Giwa had been assassinated. It was your uncles’ as they absentmindedly handed you a coke, discussing Abiola’s imprisonment in hushed tones at your sixth birthday. The thought was unpleasant; I hate his guts strictly because they do?

Then you wondered exactly which of your creeds, faiths, opinions and beliefs were personally yours. You wondered as you slowly walked home, kicking up red dust from the dirt road, you wondered if perhaps all your thoughts were not someone else’s planted innocently enough over time. And if this were so, then maybe your motives weren’t so much yours as they were programmed into you. It was a fascinating moment, this self-realization. And then, generously, you extended it to your fellow Nigerians. If this could happen to you, it could happen to anyone. It Could Happen To Anyone. It Could Be Made To Happen To Anyone. Your steps quickened. You had found your calling.


  1. Mercy (Kaud Mund) says

    simple, short very interesting! kinda made me want to keep on reading and left me wanting more! WAITING FOR MORE!

  2. Mercy (Kaud Mund) says

    simple, short but very interesting. kept me reading on and left me wanting more! i will be waiting for the next one!

  3. Mallam Sawyerr says

    nice one dearie…guess the retreat actually did its job…your rhetoric is getting better…more sophisticated…

  4. Jubril says

    I actually asked myself this question and the answer is nothing but influenced thought. The thought of a person not involved in government. Nice blog, when i grow up i wanna be like you. ciao

  5. T. Oloruntoba says

    Ah…the Meme theory. A thought is is an idea, a possibility. once it takes root, it’s home: dormant for twenty years or ravaging it’s host in days..nevertheless, it’s there, replicating, consolidating, mutating…setting adjacent thoughts into domino reactions…you hardly realise…

    I do however, contend that from the mix we’re passively or maliciously handed, reason makes us hold on to that which we’ve found to be true…in the process, we stumble on invention..a novel idea, truly ours..before we pass it on again for assimilation…

    • true…but to allow our reason act on the idea, we have to be aware 1. that it has been planted and 2. that we can influence it, for better or worse…

      It’s something i catch myself doing at odd times…for instance, why do I mentally recoil at the thought of dating guys from a certain tribe? I’ve never had a bad experience with people of that tribe, and I don’t have such gut reactions to guys from all the other tribes. But once a guy identifies himself as being from XYZ tribe, all attraction I might have had dies instantly!

      It’s something I kick myself about but I can’t help it…my reason is almost powerless. But at least, I’ve identified that this reaction is irrational. imagine all the people out there who experience these kind of reactions and don’t bother to question it…

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