I don’t know what we are doing in Lagos. With election less than three weeks away, we should be elsewhere, probably meeting with potbellies from the north, arm-twisting them, threatening them, cajoling them for wheelbarrow full of their people’s votes; doing anything that would help our course.  Anything but this; this meeting with the youth and listening to copy and paste musicians. How many votes are they worth? I have asked the president but he brushes me aside.

We need to show the people that we are not panicking, he explains. I am in the gallery with him and sulking, but the president doesn’t notice. He no longer looks at my face; he no longer takes my advice.

I am seated behind the president watching as musicians after musicians performed their half-baked songs. We ought to ban these songs like we banned gay union. But I am not paying enough attention. This afternoon, some of my contacts told me they saw the general entering a London hospital, and they promised to get a photo of him lying on a bed, taking drip. Of course we all know that the general didn’t just go to London to deliver that speech Obama’s people wrote for him; he is sick and is having British doctors work on his 73 year old fragile body. The opposition knows that we know; they just know that we cannot prove it. They have dismissed all our alarms as propaganda. So I asked my contacts to get that picture. If they cannot get a picture of him taking drip, they should get a picture of him being injected in the bottom, at least. A picture of the general’s retired bumbum will cause civil war in the media. But, who cares? No road is too far to be taken in our quest to remain in power for another juicy four years.

At musical breaks, party big shots will climb the podium and say some real sweet things about the president and some damaging things about the general. Very boring. No one is convinced. I am sure half of the youths here haven’t collected their PVCs. Total waste of time.

I dialled the number of my London contact. The general is still in the hospital, he says. No, he hasn’t gotten the photo but the photographer is inside the hospital, doing his best. They will get the photo before the end of the night. I sigh; I end the call.

The Youth Leader of our party is now giving his speech. Why they call him a youth leader beats me. He is fifty-seven, but he is the youngest youth leader in the history of our party. I suspect that even his fifty-seven is a football age, the man looks sixty-something. But he isn’t important to our government, let him have his fifteen minutes fame and go away while I concentrate on the big matters at hand. 

My phone rings. It is my London contact. I connected the call with wild immediacy. ‘Yes, yes, you got the photos?’

‘We are unto something,’ he exclaims, ‘my contacts say that the general has been rushed to the theatre for surgery. He says it’s kidney or something.’

My face beams with joy. ‘You don’t mean it!’

‘I swear,’ he says. ‘I have spoken to a nurse and she said she will get us the photo of the general just as the doctor open his chest and is removing the kidney.’

‘Oh, oh!’ I scream. The president turns and glares at me. I smile an assuring smile at His Excellency but his eyes shoot bullets into my body. I don’t fall dead because the news I just heard has enveloped my body like a bullet proof vest. Wait until I tell him the good news, his face that he squeezes like touch meat will soften like buns and he will be handsome for one minute.

‘It will cost you small money,’ my contact is saying.

Of course. I don’t expect the nurse to break such professional ethic in an empty pocket. ‘How much?’

‘250 thousand pounds,’ he says.

‘Just get the damned photos.’

The president is sitting on an executive sofa all by himself. People have been coming to sit with him and whisper one or two lies to him. Liars. I am the only one who tells the president the truth but he never listens to me. He will today. I rise to my feet and circle to the presidential sofa. The president frowns at me as I squat before him. ‘Good news, sir,’ I say.

‘Has INEC chairman resigned?’

‘No sir… it’s the general. He is heading for the theatre for kidney surgery right now. My contacts are sending the pictures in a matter of minutes.’

‘You don’t mean it,’ the president’s eyes are bulging so much I fear they will fall and stain my white caftan.

‘I swear sir.’

The president pats me on the back.

‘Sit with me.’ I am smiling from ear to ear as I take my seat beside the most powerful black leader. ‘This calls for celebration!’

‘Absolutely, sir. We have caught them red-handed… sir.’

But the president is not paying attention to me. I follow his gaze to a beautiful lady approaching us—beautiful and half-dressed. She wears something that covers just half of her exotic breasts and stops at the midfield of her succulent laps. As the chief of staff it is my duty to arrange the president’s meetings, making sure only important people see him, but it is too late; even the armed forces cannot stop this temptation from the opposition from reaching us. I look at the president; he is lost in her ecstasy.

‘Mr President,’ I say, ‘please don’t be carried away; just one erection sir, and you will lose the election!’

The president turns to look at me. ‘What is happening inside your trousers?’ he points.

I swallow my Adam’s apple. ‘But, sir I am not contesting for president!’

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They say you can’t stay a day without water, but I know someone who has gone two whole seasons without water and food. Her name is Sade, she’s coming back in June!


When the sun retires,
when the clouds, grey
and that beam retrieved
by its visiting foe,
humour me, Night.

With the sweet music
of frogs and the cricket,
with the soothing sparks
of fire-flies, the moon stars,
humour me, Night.

When the coin turns,
hiding good, giving ill
and green is lost
to the heave of grunt,
tutor me, Night.

To sail high above
your eerie noise
to draw strength
from your darkest hours
tutor me, Night.

To draw wisdom,
from your moonlessness
and strength to have,
when your stars hide
tutor me, Night.

That when dawn comes
in its awesomeness,
and my heart, boisterous
won’t a teacher forget
Save me, Night!

Serah Donald Mbachu is a shy writer who hides in Owerri.

You love this, read equally great poems here and here and here.