NO KILLING THE NIGERIAN SPIRIT
It was a terrible day in the traffic, the type my colleague would say has no part two. Even the air conditioning in my car was sweating. My Warri friend later told me it was 'traffic wey wear cap, hold walking stick sef'. I twisted, hissed, read, made calls to distract myself while my driver drove with the brakes instead of the accelerator, throwing me around in the car. Oh God, where is everybody going? I wondered aloud. Moot question. Where was I going, my mind threw that back at me. I was going nuts for Chrissake! Why were all the cars in Lagos out on the streets at the same time. I called a friend who said she was stuck on the third mainland bridge and that it was that time of the year. What time? Christmas time, dumb girl.
Everybody is travelling. Everybody is shopping. All the kids are home and using the extra cars to go to the movies. More kids are hawking in the traffic. I noticed the funny Santa mask with the 'retractable' plastic moustache that one of them was trying to get me to buy. Do I look like a kid? I turned my face to the other side and there was another one with a dozen Santa caps all glowing bright and beautiful. The trailers terrorized on the right and the okada riders on the left.
Hmmmn, it 's Christmas again and Nigerians are putting their national woes on hold. Everybody is determined to celebrate. I shook my head. Like the beetle, there is no killing the Nigerian spirit. They don't call us the happiest people on earth for nothing.
As we wobbled and wove through the night traffic, my mind started wandering. I re-channelled my mental energy and re-examined some popular sayings. See what my mind came up with in that traffic….
He who laughs last laughs best
As this passing year has shown, we are a happy people. The poor are forever in the 'suffering and smiling' mode. They have concluded that their lot is poverty and since those who should care don't, the poor have learnt to shrug and move on. The rich are permanently laughing, in fact, guffawing. There is so much to be happy for. The poor are minding their business, the rich are minding both their own business and the poor's. They laugh to the bank, Caribbean Islands and their money is safely laughing in Swiss accounts, at Christmas and any other time the rich choose, they give the poor some rice, groundnut oil and yards and yards of Ankara and the poor laugh. So everybody laughs. Nobody laughs first or last. We are all laughing at the same time, just for different reasons. However, our most interesting 'laughs' are done in the PDP. The elders laugh one after the other. Misfortunes of the PDP make them roll on the floor. Some said it is political laughter, I say it is entertaining. And it is all in the Nigerian spirit.
The patient dog eats the fattest bone
We are a nation of scramblers. Sorry, there are no patient dogs left here. The last set of patient dogs were trampled to death by their fellow Nigerian dogs who were scrambling for the national cake. And if by any chance there are still any patient dogs anywhere in Nigeria, they are an endangered specie. They will starve to death because the smart alec dogs eat both the meat and the bones. So, there will be no fat or thin bone. That is the Nigerian spirit.
Where there are elders in the market, the infant's head is safe
Heresy. Nigerian elders are a special specie. They simply love infant heads. They eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some eat whole infants. Even the infants know that the presence of certain elders makes them liable to die young. They know when to ' arrange themselves' and when not to ask for help. For instance, today's infants know that today's elders are steadily eating up their young and their future. They take bonds and foreign loans that will take decades to pay. They mortgage everything in sight and tell the infants that they are the leaders of tomorrow. Meanwhile, the elders are sure they are not sure there is a sure tomorrow. Don't get it twisted, Nigerian elders know what they are doing to the infants. As soon as the infants wake up from their 'no long thing' slumber, there will be all kinds of 'long things' in the national market.
Do not leave till tomorrow what you can do today
That would mean we would have nothing to do tomorrow. We in Nigeria plan today and leave the execution till tomorrow. That's why we have Vision 2010 and now that 2010 has come, we have Vision 20 2020. We simply love to plan for tomorrow. Cynics say it is because we always think tomorrow will never come. Who cares about cynics? What will the Federal Executive Council do every Wednesday, for instance, if they do everything in one fell swoop? See how many times they have announced huge sums for education? They will do the real work tomorrow. Is the Ministry of works not defending budgets every year at the National Assembly? The roads will be fixed tomorrow. Today is for awarding contracts. We'll fix the craters and potholes tomorrow. Can you remember how many times we have heard stories about the Chinese signing one thing or the other with Nigeria or fix our rail transport system? Have you seen any new rail line or even a tokunbo train? Those are matters for tomorrow. In other words, the saying above is null and void and of no effect whatsoever in Nigeria.
Christmas in Lagos has its advantage. No traffic jam. My Waffi friend said, everybody don carry their trouble waka. That is good news for those of us who have to work on Christmas day.