Obituary: Comrade Garri (1300-2017)

Garri is dead. Garri is the latest victim of the locomotive destroyer we call change. Garri, gone! Garri, the defender of the broke, the student companion, the official first-aid of the Republic (OFR), a friend indeed; Garri, the minister of defence, the Prince of wails,  the calmer of storms, dead.

Garri is dead and there’s total silence. A powerful comrade, saviour and supporter, is gone and we are silent. Murdered by this regime,  yet no outrage, no black dress, no tears, people are going about their businesses (or pretending to) as if nothing happened.

I won’t take this.

Someone once said that noodles have done more for this country than the national assembly. Absolutely right, he is. But not just noodles; so many things, the list is endless, have done more for us than the national assembly. Including kiwi polish, generator, twitter etc.

On top of the of the list, for me, is Garri. Garri. Garri, in a voice that rustles. Garri had been saving lives since our fore forefathers first walked this land as hunters and gatherers. Garri was there when the first Obi of Onitsha emerged from the sky, Garri was there when the Benin Empire ruled South of the Niger, Garri was there when the Alaafin of Oyo shot those arrows in the four corners of the world. Garri preceded the Sokoto Caliphate, Garri, Right Honourable Garri, was our first foreign exchange before the white colonialists decided humans were better cash crops.

Garri, the history of our nation was written with Garri. Lord Lugard had a bowl of soaked Garri with sugar and coconut the day he woke up and decided to amalgamate the southern and northern protectorates of King George the Fifth. His girlfriend, Shaw, had a spoonful of Garri in her mouth when she called the new country Nigeria.

Garri was served during the first meeting of the first political party in Nigeria, the Nigerian Youth Movement, founded by the erudite Herbert Macaulay. During all the constitutional conferences from Richards to Macpherson, Garri was the only item seven. When, in 1953, Enaharo moved the motion for independence Garri was before him. in fact, he was inspired by Garri to make such seminal move.

During the Second World War, when Nigerians fought for the British in India and Burma, Garri was the key player. The appearance of a Nigerian soldier full of Garri in his stomach and grit in his eyes was enough to send a battalion of Japanese soldiers scampering for safety. Garri practically won the Indian-Burma Sector of the war for the Allies.

Garri survived the painful civil war, survived the directionless rule of Gowon, survived the free for all loot that was the second Republic; Garri survived the first (warning) coming of Buhari, the IBB disaster and the lethal insanity of Abacha; Garri not only survived the return of civilian rule Garri ruled in Aso Rock.

Below is the video of President Obasanjo gleefully enjoying Garri.

Garri was honoured under Obasanjo. A scarcity of sugar towards the end of Obasanjo’s regime nearly started a nationwide mutiny. A song emerged, in Hausa, ‘Obasanjo drank Garri without sugar/Who told us this?/Atiku told us’; that was sugar (the companion of Garri) scarcity, not Garri, Garri scarcity was unthinkable.

Garri survived the onslaught of noodles.

Then the APC comedians came with their brooms and the rotten change. And Garri died.

I won’t take this.  

Garri, Oh, Garri, my grand old friend, a handy substitute, my personal assistant during my university days. Yeah with 50 naira in those days one can drink Garri. 10 naira tin cup of Garri, 10 naira tot of milk, 10 naira sugar, 10 naira groundnut and 5 naira cold pure water; you get five naira change! But today, under this change you need roughly 200 naira to soak and drink a decent Garri. Minimum Wage in Nigeria is 18 thousand. 600 naira per day. So you need one-third of your daily pay to drink Garri.

Noooooooooo!

This is wicked, this is a humiliation of a national hero, a founding monument. This is the greatest injustice to befall the common man since the Slave Trade. Taking Garri off the table is a declaration of war against life, against survival, against prosperity, against humanity. The whole world must rise up to this Garrious genocide. First, they lied to us that Garri causes Lassa fever. We didn’t buy so they snatched it off the table. Evil ones. Terrorists of the commonchop. They took Garri away!

Comrade Garri would be missed. Garri doesn’t discriminate, it goes with moi-moi, it goes with coconuts, it goes with biscuit, it goes with German stones, it goes with groundnuts, it goes with cashew nuts, it goes with joy, it goes with gratitude, it goes with happiness; and they took it away.

Leave me, let me cry and mourn the demise of the founding father of Nigeria. He who has never drunk Garri before let him cast the first stone of dissension at me. I hereby declare the next seven days for the mourning of Garri. Flags would be flown at half-mast. Nobody must eat meat or have sex (now this one would cause trouble, but I insist, I declare every zip shut—there is a national padlocking of skirts and trousers as we mourn the departure of our great ancestor; loosening of bra strap is not permitted). Everyone must don black and black all through. There is a dusk to dawn curfew. By six o’clock everyone is expected indoors to weep and mourn the Great Loss; and all our airports, seaports and land borders are slammed shut.

Anyone who disobeys this order would be taken to Ijebu-Ode to farm cassava and produce Garri for seven years. You have been warned.

Pass me the bowl.

garri2

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The Police Woman I Love

I was arrested on a fine Saturday morning. The sun was shining without malice and the beautiful pattern its reflection through the window made on my floor made me think of love and tomorrow. I sighed and turned another side. I was prepared to spend the whole of today on bed, to be interrupted only for the bathroom, for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner.

It wasn’t to be. A knock landed on the door. I suppressed a hiss as I got down the bed. The earlier I got to the door and dismissed the disturbant, the better for my bones spread on the bed like suya.

I opened the door and my heart stopped beating at the sight of a policewoman. I noticed first her black uniform, then a beautiful face with small red lips and brown soft eyes. I looked downward, taking her breasts, flat tummy, and pistol and a pair of handcuffs in either hip in one swift gaze.

‘Good morning,’ I said in a small voice I didn’t recognise; I swallowed an invisible lump to strengthen my voice.

‘Good morning,’ she said. Beautiful voice; the kind of voice that was set on the cusp between a mild cough and a sing-song vibration.

I glanced at the nameplate on her chest. Gloria or something. I wasn’t sure. I didn’t look to confirm because I didn’t want her to think I was looking at her sizable breasts. I am that kind of man who would not want any woman to think I am looking at her breasts, even though I would love to stare but have no intention, as yet, of looking.

‘You are under arrest,’ she said. This was the first time I was being arrested and I almost smiled. She continued talking: ‘You have your rights. The most crucial one being the right to remain silent, because anything you say now might be on record and used against you during the trial.’ She spoke like a kindly matron announcing a lunch of eba and ora soup. ‘Dress up.’

I turned and she followed me in. ‘May I?’ I asked looking towards the bathroom.

‘Hurry up.’

In a few minutes, I was done with bathing. When I came out, I saw her standing near my wardrobe door holding my only suit in her hands. ‘Wear this,’ she said. It was not an order; it wasn’t a suggestion. I obeyed. She walked a little away from the wardrobe and turned her back on me so I could dress up. Nice ass, I noticed. I tried not to stare. I am not the type of man who would stare at the bottom of an officer of the law sent to arrest me; no, I am not.

‘I am done,’ I said, knotting the tie.

‘Good,’ she said, almost appreciatively. ‘Stretch your hands’; she brought out the handcuffs from her hip, solid, shapely hip, and proceeded to handcuff me. Her fingers on my flesh felt warm, tender and reassuring.

The room was silent, save for the soft, sweet hum of her breath. Her hair not fully covered by her beret, a kissing distance from my face, smelt nice. If she hadn’t just cuffed my wrist, I might have reached out and hugged her. She had that kind of effect on people/criminal. But I am not the type of criminal to reach out and hug my arrester. I am not even a criminal, although, with cute officers like this, I would seriously consider towing the craggy lines of felony.

We walked out of the room. I locked the door then she led me away, her hand on my elbow.

My neighbours gapped through their windows, I could feel their eyes, whitewashed with gossip, on my back. But I wasn’t ashamed. The grace and beauty of the woman police shone through the shame of being handcuffed.

We stopped at her car parked in front of our gate. A clean white saloon marked Police, crowned with a red and blue lightbar. She led me to the passenger’s side, opened the door and watched me slide in. She shut the door, rounded the car to the driver’s side, opened it, got in and filled the car with allurement.

She started the ignition and the engine leapt to life and one of my sweetest rides ever began. I didn’t know where she was driving to, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want the ride to end. She was probably driving to Enugu State Police Command but I wouldn’t mind her driving as far as the Zone Nine Police Headquarters in Umuahia. Anywhere, as long as I remained in the pool of her elegance. To my dismay, the drive ended in just under twenty minutes.

We stopped before a court building that was painted white with flowers by the door. Enugu State Conjugal Affairs Court, read the inscription on the wall. Otherwise, it would have passed for a church of a congregation who cared for both body and soul. She got down and opened my door for me. I stepped down with disguised reluctance.

Arm-in-arm she led me up the steps into the court. The court was half-filled already with my friends and relation. My parents, my eldest sister, my brother were there; Oge, Ifeoma, Muyima and Choice too. My heart stopped beating. I sensed a whiff a heart attack in the air. Fresh air suddenly became sparse and I could hardly breathe. This was the ultimate disgrace.

I walked with plastic legs between the rows. The judge, a stern man in an enormous robe, was already waiting. The policewoman put me in the witness box and removed the handcuffs; she stood by me. I caressed my wrist with a pinch of gratitude.

‘What is your name?’ the judge spoke. His voice sounded like thunder; it reminded me of the voice of Amadioha in Nollywood.

I told the judge my name.

‘Mr Okechukwu, you are accused of being lonely and in need of a soulmate. Guilty or not guilty.’

‘Guilty sir,’ I replied. Very guilty.

The judge continued, ‘I hereby sentence you to life under the care of Sergeant Gloria Aaron, to love and behold till death do you part.’

‘I graciously accept the sentence,’ I said.

The audience clapped.

The judge hit his gavel on his desk. ‘You may kiss the bride.’ I faced the policewoman I loved. She smiled. Her teeth was white, the colour of the inside of coconut. I reached for her…

‘Talk to me! Why are you not saying anything! What kind of thing is this?’

I opened my eyes. I was lying on my bed. The shouting was from my phone. My earphone was in the phone which meant that any call I got was connected automatically. So the call was answered and someone was shouting on the other end of the line. I picked up my phone. The caller was the civilian I loved. A beautiful girl with a short fuse who would follow most ‘I love you’s’ with a fight if the intonation or stress were misplaced.

‘Talk to me,’ she screamed.

‘I can’t talk,’ I screamed back. ‘I am in police custody right now. Later.’

I ended the call, switched off the phone and close my eyes, to return to dreamland where the police woman I loved stood, waiting for the kiss that seals unions.

Tweets to @Oke4chukwu

Officer Hadiza Muhammad

Note That this image is only for inscription purpose. Nothing else. Don’t let the devil use thee.