THE SCREENING OF AN APE

He was well-dressed, the ape. Black tie, white shirt, blue-black suit and a crowning hat. He took his seat at the witness box. ‘Introduce yourself,’ the senate president said.

The ape cleared his throat. ‘My name is Jons Soto, Grand Ape of the Federal Republic. I am a first class graduate of the Zoo College for Apes and Other Near-men. I was born not in the jungle, but among men, or behind men, so to say, in the zoo.’ This, in clipped British accent.

The senate president nodded twice or thrice. ‘Personally, I will like the nominee to bow and walk away without questions. We have all read his impeccable CV. But I think we should allow him few minutes to make his presentation, if only for the benefit of some Nigerians who still doubt the ability of the first monkey ever to be nominated minister. You may proceed.’

‘Thank you Mr President. I beg to differ, I am not a monkey. I am an ape. Although the monkey and apes all fall under the same family of primates, and have single ancestry, millions of years back. But evolution has since transmutated things. So we now have two groups of primates–the prosimians and anthropoids. The prosimian group is inferior and much more primitive, the lemurs and tarsiers are chief examples. The anthropoids are cut into two sub-groups: monkeys and hominids. The monkey sub-group goes further to being divided into old world monkeys found in Africa and Asia, and new world monkeys found in the Americas; these include over 200 monkey types, plus the baboons, macaques and capuchins. The hominid, on the other hand, also known as Greater Apes, includes gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and man. I am an ape, you senators are apes, together we’re Greater Apes.’

The senators clapped.

‘You are not monkeys. I am no monkey. We can’t be monkeys.’

Applause, dosed with laughter, broken with a few hungover ‘hear hear’.

‘I am closer to man than monkeys are to me. In fact, man is closer to monkeys than apes.’

A more deafening applause shook the hallowed chamber.

‘We apes (by “we” I mean senators, man and I, thank you) and monkeys have little morphological features. Monkeys have tails, we don’t. We walk on two feet, monkeys walk on four, and use the tail as a fifth limb. Monkeys are designed for life in the trees, we apes are made for the home. We are of far more immense body size than monkeys. Only the gibbons, among apes, are of similar size, bodily, with monkeys. Thankfully, gibbons are “lesser apes”. Monkeys rely on smell for survival, we men rely primarily on vision. Apes have broad chest and a precocious avocation, nay, arrogation, dolce so to say, of the cranium cavity.’

The ape paused, allowed the rim of his glasses fall one or two inches to his nose bridge, and gave the honourable senators a learned glance, and took in the clapping and cheering like a well-earned wage. It was like a lecture room, and he knew who the lecturer was.

The ape continued, ‘Having distinguished us from the unpropitious monkeys, I proceed to highlight what make we apes apes, what make we apes superior. We apes are able to use tools and you are all witnesses to the great technological vicissitudes of our age. We apes have the ability of speech. I am not able to speak because I am taught, some of you will patronisingly say trained, to speak. My people, like Africa and the third world, have been ill-colonised. Just as whites colonised blacks so did man, before literate civilisation, colonised and drove common apes (by “common apes” I refer to gorillas and chimpanzees) into the wild. The shock of this inhuman mutilation of the soul, this genocidal assassination of culture, has remained to date. This has robbed my people the use of the vocal cords. It is, in a manner, a speech strike of eternal consequence. As for common apes being naked, Africa too was naked before Western Civilisation. My people in the jungle are without clothes because they have refused to have any dealings with man and have eschewed the so-called Western Civilisation, of which António Agostinho  Neto defined in his seminal poetry as breaking rock, shifting rocks in inequitable weather. We apes have an esteemed touch of pride, in the edge of arrogance even. We haven’t found the passion to stoop that low. In this prodigious state, common apes are superior to man. Today the popular culture of nudity is jiggled sky high. This is man trying to imitate his immediate elder brother, the ape….’

It was at this stage that the internet crashed. Twitter, trust it, saw thousands of tweets on the ape per second. Hashtags like #ApeSense, #WeAreAllApes, #ApeNotMonkey and #GiveUsApe began to trend worldwide. The most engaged tweet was one by an ape-blogger  with the simple message ‘Ape for president, 2019.’ Something wonderful was happening, and the whole world was interested. Nigeria was proud of her ape. God bless the president for this thoughtful nomination. Unaffected by the hullabaloo in the social media, the ape rattled on. At least, two senators wiped tears from blepharitis eyes.

The majority leader moved a motion that the ape be allowed to bow and walk away, a confirmed minister. The senate president addressed himself to the minority leader. ‘Will you please second the motion?’

The minority leader rose to his feet, gathering his robe in his hands tightly, as if holding to the spotlight he cherished. ‘I will graciously second the motion, but not before I ask a question that bothers so many Nigerians which might have been lost in the excitement of the moment. Mr Nominee, you have always been spotted carrying a bunch of banana in your briefcase, sometimes in your pockets, and you have been seen eating them in respectable places, including the airport. You once hid banana in your hat. Now, Mr Nominee, do you have any explanation for these seemingly embarrassing acts, and what do you suggest against future occurrence?’

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The ape smiled like a professor who had just been asked an elementary question in an MA class.

‘Banana,’ he began, ‘is botanically a berry. The name is derived from the West African Wolof language. Although certain sources have suggested it’s from the Arabic word for “finger”. Banana is an edible parthenocarpic fruit that originated from Southeast Asia in the wilds of Indonesia or/and Malaysia. Some of the most commonly consumed species include musa acuminata, musa balbisiana and musa paradisiaca…’

So began the lecture that lasted close to three-quarters of an hour. Mr Soto discussed the early cultivation of banana, the economic importance of banana, the difference between banana and plantains, the farming of banana in Nigeria, banana pests and diseases; etc. He didn’t remember to say any word about the question about his banana embarrassments. He didn’t remember. No one did: the viewers were hypnotised, the senators, those who were awake, were nodding to every word, mouth agape. The fire in social media was inferno high.

‘You may bow and walk,’ the senate president finally got the chance to say this with suppressed sleepiness.

The ape bowed but didn’t walk away immediately. First, he reached for his head, lifted his hat and brought out a giant rich soft red-yellow banana; he took his time to peel the rind off, waved the near shiny white edible part to the camera, allowed a clumsy movement of his lips in an arrogant grin then took a liberal bite.

Tweets to @Oke4chukwu

Update: Read The Testimonies of a Civilised Goat

TWO STUPID CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AUTHOR (2ND SET)

Read the previous stupid characters here.

He’s called Solomon, Solo for short. She’s Miriam, Mimi for short. They live together. Solo worked in an insurance company as a clerk or something. He made enough to afford to live with his girlfriend but not enough to enable him to see her people and make things formal. Mimi didn’t complain. Solo wasn’t under pressure, why bother? Mimi was still young, just 34; Solo wasn’t so old, just 41, why hurry?

Solo was fortunate to be one of those who, like in many establishments, did very little but who always appeared to be preoccupied to the point of almost being considered overworked. The truth was that he practically did nothing but had somehow managed to preside over a crowded desk and to keep some sort of correspondence with a superior or two which bore stamps of importance but were utterly useless. Solo himself was pure uselessness, and since he had little education for another employment would have laid low and continue to screw the company. But he plunged into trouble and was fired.

A somewhat pretty lady breezed into the reception one airless afternoon. He looked up from the mass of books and papers with tired eyes and noticed first her firm hips and then a large behind which infatuated him so much that, as she past him to the stairs, he stretched out and slapped it. The return slap was thunder, on his eye, followed in a rush by a cheek-buster. During the ensuing flay, her wig fell off. She was boyish, ugly, he noticed just before she reached for his eyeballs with claws. Before his colleagues tore him from her, the girl had already enjoyed a liberal smashing of his bald head with the sharp point of her shoe.

Solo was summoned into the manager’s office. Such an ugly brute, he cursed inwardly. He didn’t derive an oita of pleasure from the adventure, for her bottom was hard to the touch, so hard it felt as though she wore panties made of plywood. Yet for this, she had given him a black eye, a soft head and hundred tiny cuts on the face. Evil girl. But the manager didn’t see it this way. The assaulted girl was his niece. He fired Solo. Solo lived in the boys’ quarters of the staff quarters, he was given seven days quit notice.

Solo knelt down, then lay flat on the floor, then rolled on the floor, crying and pleading for forgiveness. The security man came in and carried him out. Solo wanted to fight the man but one look at his bloodshot eyes and the powerful biceps told him that this man could, if he wished, throw him out of Nigeria, so Solo maintained his peace and was carried like a new bride out of the facility.

Mimi was a house girlfriend and she looked it; she was so fat her skirt and blouse seemed like her containers and not something she wore. She was cooking when Solo returned with a crushed face and a spirit in a grinding machine. ‘I am finished.’ He buried his face on her tarpaulin skirt and wept his eyes out. Solo wasn’t exactly a midget but sometimes, like today, she was his benign Aunty. She shed one or two solidarity tears on his back. After crying to satisfaction, he told her about the sack, telling the truth but blaming it on the devil. ‘I swear, it’s the devil’s handwork.’

She accepted his excuse and told him that this was an attack from the spirit realm; they needed to regain the job spiritually. She took him to see their pastor. Her pastor actually as Solo hadn’t been to church in months. The pastor was a giant fellow in punk hairstyle with an oily smile. Mimi told him about the sack and he smiled ruefully.

‘I haven’t seen you in church for a long time Brother Solomon.’

‘I have been busy.’

‘What if I tell you God is too busy to help you.’

‘Ah, please pastor,’ Mimi interceded.

‘God is never busy,’ Solo said.

‘He is never busy. But if you don’t rub His back why should He rub yours?’

‘Please sir help us,’ Mimi said.

‘Your fiancé must resuscitate the glory of God in his life by sowing a very powerful seed. Something that will surprise God.’

Solo frowned. ‘God is omni-suprise. He’s insurpriseable.’

‘But you started the whole thing. You surprised Him with your behaviour today. You need to un-surprise him.’

‘With money?’

‘With seed.’

‘Stop being stubborn,’ Mimi was unhappy. ‘Solo, listen. Solo–‘ Solo stamped out of the office. ‘Excuse me,’ Mimi made an apologetic face to her spiritual leader and went out to her man. ‘What’s wrong with you, you walked out on a man of God.’

‘Let’s get out of here.’

‘We need to settle with God. Don’t you need your job back.’

‘I don’t have any kobo to sow seed. All I have in my account is money for our feeding and to rent a new apartment.’

‘How much?’

‘Forty-two thousand naira.’

Mimi went back to the man of God to find out if forty-two thousand naira would be enough to surprise God. No, it wouldn’t surprise God, the mouthpiece of Jireh replied, but if Solo and Mimi supported it with three days dry fasting it might surprise them. Mimi came out and reported to her man.

‘Tell him I can only afford to sow thirty thousand.’

Mimi went back to the Oracle to enquire. The Reverend said no problem. They could sow thirty thousand peanuts but were they ready to fast forty days and forty nights to support it? When Mimi reported this, Solo’s lip dropped. ‘That ugly girl’s iron buttock is really legendary. Government should collect it from her and put it in a museum.’

Mimi wasn’t listening. She grabbed his trousers and snatched his wallet. She snapped his ATM card out and he watched helplessly as it disappeared into the drawer on her chest.

‘Baby, what are you trying to do?’

‘Watch me.’

There was a small crowd before the ATM. Mimi was in the queue. Solo was leaning on a car a hissing distance from his girlfriend, sulking, sure he would be in the gutter in a week’s time but hoping for miracle. He knew his company, once they sack you you would never be un-sacked. But perhaps, God would be surprised…

A big police woman came to a stop beside him, her ATM card between her fingers like a cigarette, undecided weather to join the queue or not. One look at her face and he quickly looked away. Her face was crowded with pimples, so much it seemed someone started a weed farm on her face and hastily abandoned it. Her bloodshot eyes, her aggressive lips and wide nostrils complemented the chaos. She was dressed in the ill-fitting black uniform tocked into a skirt which held her bottom firm. As if on cue, she took two steps forward and Solo caught his breath. The officer had a great behind, he whistled. Forget the face, this was hot. He licked his lip, willing himself to forget that he was sacked and his account was being emptied because of similar assets. And it might be another iron affair. His heartbeat rattled on his chest.

‘So help me God,’ he suddenly mumbled, took a step forward and, with stoned boldness, slapped the police woman’s bottom.

Tweets to @Oke4chukwu
Read the next set of stupids here