SADE HARAM (I)

There has not been a terrorist attack on American soil since Jack Bauer first appeared on TV. We must not neglect the power of make-belief. This is Nigeria and we shall fight terrorism, one word at a time.

8.02am, 30th May, 2014

She stood before the mirror and frowned at her cheekbones and the bags under her eyes. She ran her hand on her unmade hair and decided that she would shave it off. Her hair magnified the want of flesh in her face; additionally, she had no money to take care of it.

She sighed, walked to her bed and collapsed on it. She was thirty minutes late for work, but her legs weren’t looking forward to the two hundred or so paces to where she worked. The month was not half-gone and she was already broke, she had around six hundred naira in her purse. Too unsubstantial. She had to buy things; the light and house cleaning bills could wait, but her kerosene, water, sugar, vegetable oil, soap, detergents, seasoning, pepper, salt…

She sighed again. No, six hundred naira was a mere stone to the mountain of her problems. Perhaps it was time to ask the headmaster for a raise. How could she teach CRS and Social studies in six classes and write six lesson notes, six lesson plans, mark registers, give tests, mark them, record them and swallow the insults of the ‘senior staff’ for just eight thousand naira per month. No, she would demand a raise.

With this resolve she rose to her height, clad in neat, humble shirt over pant trousers, a textbook school teacher. She gathered her books with weary hands and began a giddy walk to the door. She opened the door and beheld a sadness-infested face of man, made up with a scar under one eye. Her alarm snapped.

‘Yes?’

‘Can I come in?’ he asked.

‘No, I am late for work.’

‘You won’t be going to work if you hear what I have to say.’

‘I don’t care what you have to say. Give way.’

He remained on her way. Her anger rose from her bosom but fell as soon as it came to her face. What could she do? She turned and walked back to the room. The bed was unmade, the dish unwashed and dresses scattered around, the home of the distressed. She didn’t care that this very strange stranger saw these.

‘What do you want?’ she demanded, ‘and I didn’t ask you to sit.’

He smiled a smile that he didn’t feel. ‘Nigeria needs you Sade.’

‘I am not Sade,’ she said.

‘Who are you?’

She threw her staff ID card on his lap.

He read it. ‘Juliana Bako?’ He laughed bitterly and broke the plastic ID into two. ‘You don’t need this Sade,’ he said as he saw her eyes flash with annoyance. ‘If money is your problem, the government can give you one thousand times what you are paid in this miserable school. Sade, class teacher? No, not when your country boils.’ He rose to his feet. ‘Nigeria is in a serious problem.’

‘Talk to the President then.’

‘The President knows about it and he needs you to help solve the problem, Sade. Anything you want, just name it, the government will wire it immediately.’

‘I want rest of mind.’

He looked at her hard and she returned his gaze without flinching. He fished out his phone from his hip and began to dial a number.

‘Forget it. No one on earth will make me put my life on line for Nigeria again,’ she said.

A moment passed, he spoke rapidly in the phone then stretched out the device. Sade didn’t collect the phone. ‘The National Security Adviser on the line, Sade.’ She didn’t budge. He returned the phone to his ear.

‘Sir, she wouldn’t talk to you.’

‘Put the phone on speaker,’ came the other voice.

The phone was put on loud speaker.

‘Hello Sade, how are you?’

Sade bit her lip but said nothing.

‘Sade we need your help… I understand how you feel about Nigeria but you should know that it is still Nigerians who saved your life and gave you your new identity. The Chinese think you are dead.’

Sade didn’t open her mouth.

‘Sade, help us and get whatever you want.’

‘Sade!… Hello, Sade!’ Then carelessly, the Security Adviser said, ‘There is something you need to know about Dozie.’

‘Dozie is dead,’ Sade said huskily.

‘That is what you think.’

He died in my arms.’

The adviser chuckled. ‘That is what your eyes wished to see.’

She snatched the phone and shouted into the mouth-piece, ‘Dozie is dead!’

‘Everyone on earth thinks you are dead, Sade; now why do you think Dozie too isn’t living quietly somewhere with false name and—?’

‘No, it can’t be! Dozie is dead; I can feel his loss in my heart. If he is still alive I will know; I will feel his breath. No, he is dead!’

The NSA emitted a grunt. ‘Don’t argue with me, Sade, not now. We need you to tackle the insurgents. It is essential you help us… after that, we will talk about Dozie. Adamu will brief you.’

‘Wait…’ the call was ended.

Sade looked at Adamu. ‘Dozie is dead!’

Adamu’s face was blank. ‘I don’t know about that. The NSA should know better. Now, listen, the insurgents are in Kaduna and we have reasons to believe that they are led by their leader Shaka. They are quartered in a nomad settlement inside Takwa forest.’

‘Dozie is dead,’ Sade said.

‘The security of our nation, Sade, should be our problem for now. There are insurgents—’

‘The military should be made aware,’ she said with irritation. ‘I have head ache.’

Adamu smiled with dismay as she took her seat on the mattress, her head on her palms. ‘We can’t involve the military for now. There are one hundred and fifty girls kidnapped from a boarding school last night and we can’t attack the terrorist base and endanger the lives of these girls.’

Sade looked up. ‘Girls kidnapped? Again?’ She was alarmed.

‘Again.’ Adamu was ashamed. ‘We have intel that the terrorists are quartered in Kaduna in preparation for a major attack on Abuja. So we have to act fast. We also need to rescue the girls before it inspires another international storm.’

Sade sighed. ‘Why kidnap girls?’

‘To use them as human shields. With the girls in their midst, we will not use airstrike. And also to embarrass the government. This is war, Sade.’

‘But why girls?’

‘Because they are damned terrorists!’

‘What do you want me to do?’

‘We want you to enter their camp and ascertain for sure that the girls are there, get their position and inform us on how best to strike.’

Sade rose to her feet. ‘Me alone?’

He said yes.

‘That’s a suicide mission.’

Adamu nodded, pained. ‘But you are the only one we can trust. The terrorists don’t know for sure that we are on them and if you are captured we know you won’t talk.’

‘If I am captured, they will torture and molest me.’

Again, Adamu nodded, pained. ‘The chances of capturing you are low,’ he said. ‘But you mustn’t expect the worst; just be prepared.’

Sade made to her desk, opened a tattered massive textbook and brought out a postcard-sized photograph of Dozie. He had his jaw in his palm, smiling brightly at her, his eyes locked in hers. Sade caressed his face.

Ninety-nine per cent of Sade said Dozie was dead, one per cent suspected he was alive… A teasing dilemma. Could she afford to risk her life in order to find out about Dozie, to satisfy one per cent of her?

‘There are over one hundred and fifty girls being abused by terrorists as I speak to you, Sade.’

‘There are fifteen thousand secret agents in the country,’ Sade said.

‘We know no one who can handle this better than you.’

Sade’s eyes were locked on the photo. ‘I am out of touch. And Dozie is dead.’

‘You may never find your man,’ Adamu agreed, ‘you may never rescue the girls, you may die in the terrorist camp, but I know you Sade. You can’t live with the blood of these girls on your thought. You have sacrificed a lot for this country, the girls need you.’

‘I am a school teacher. I teach the next generation. My pupils need me.’

‘And there are a hundred and fifty girls who will never go to school again, who will never have a shot at leading the next generation. Not just because they are kidnapped, but because people like Sade are still bearing old grudges. You can’t let this happen just to show us how angry you are.’

Sade said nothing.

‘Come on, Sade, your boyfriend being a worthy Nigerian will approve of this.’

Sade turned. ‘And where is he?’

‘I don’t know. But I know you want to help us; I can see it written boldly on your face.’

Sade still wasn’t so sure. She had done undercover agent thrice. Among drug dealers in Benin Republic, among traffickers in Libya and among the militants in the Niger Delta. She was found out in the last two assignments and tortured. Interpol rescued her in Tripoli while the militants released her when Amnesty was declared. She was a captive for at least a month in each camp. She was tortured at first then dumped with other captives. She knew that she couldn’t expect such from the terrorists, if they captured her….

‘Sade, we are wasting time.’

Sade put Dozie’s photograph away. ‘How do you want to do this? If I say yes, you will take me on a jet and drop me in the forest?’

‘We will go first to the Secret Service Division and get you equipped for the journey,’ Adamu said, half-successful in concealing his impatience.

If she didn’t do this, the crooked NSA was sure to turn her to the Chinese. And this time, there would be no hope for her. Better Terrorists than dying in the hands of the Chinese, she reasoned. But… was she so sure?… The Chinese won’t rape her nor cut off her head; what they would do was plant a bullet in her head. And they were even. But the terrorists! They would want to eat her cake and have her!

‘Sade, let’s go,’ Adamu’s voice cut through her consciousness. She brought out Dozie’s photo for one last glance…

Crack! Crack! Crack!

Adamu seized his breath, mouth agape; he fell on his knees and spread limp on her feet, blood gushing out of his back. Sade looked up as a tall thin youth wearing a white-turned-brown sleeveless over big jeans trousers, his pistol smoking entered the room. Another youth wearing a dirty white-check turban and wielding a gun across his shoulders like a nomad’s stick came to a stand before his comrade. The first pointed his pistol on Sade’s chest.

Sade shut her eyes. At least she would die with Dozie’s picture in her hand.

She heard whisperings in a language she didn’t care to follow. She opened her eyes when she thought she heard one of them mention her name. A third man had joined them. He was dressed in khaki with his eyes hidden behind dark goggles, between stubborn forehead and fanatical beard. He had a pistol held in his belt. He took off his dark glasses to reveal blood-shot eyes and spoke. ‘I know you,’ he declared, beads of saliva pouring from his yellowed teeth. ‘You are Sade!’

Sade’s heart broke with grief. Now she remembered him; he was Sami, her partner in the Niger Delta. A Secret Agent turned terrorist! ‘She is a government agent,’ he told the others.

‘Why did you become a terrorist?’ Sade asked. ‘Why betray your country after all—?’

Sami hit his fist on her abdomen cutting her speech short. ‘You bagger! So it is you that the SS want to use!’

Sade bent double, clutching her belly as pains tore into her intestines. Sami grabbed her on the hair, lifted her face up and gave her a rock head-butt on her face. She returned to her knees, her bloody nose on her palms. The men surrounded her. ‘Yensu fa?’ one of them asked.

They would kill her; there was no time for theatrics. She suddenly stretched up, snatched the pistol in Sami’s belt and shot away from the men, covering them with the pistol, her back on the door. ‘Take it easy,’ she said to them, jeeringly. ‘Drop your weapons and put your hands up!’

Sami lifted stiff hands above stubborn shoulders. ‘What do you think you are doing? You are already in our hand.’

She didn’t like the smug smile on his face. She—

A heavy object exploded in the back of her head. She didn’t see it coming; she didn’t hear it either. It just exploded, driving her senses out of her as she fell on her kneels then her side.

‘Shegia!’ Sami cursed. ‘Take her to the vehicle.’

‘But Shaka ordered us to kill whoever this SS man came to see.’

‘Yes, but Sade is different; she is too valuable to die immediately. Take her to the vehicle.’

Strong hands lifted Sade off the ground and carried her away.

To be Continued

Forty-eight hours ago, my eldest sister and godmother was delivered of a fairy baby boy, her fourth, my number ten niece/nephew, worldwide, incorporated. Hard Voices wish both mother and child everlasting Godspeed. Now the more kids come to call me Uncle, the more I… I don’t know.

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GOING DOWN CHINESE ROAD (DAY SEVEN)

Sade looked at the Cuban with refined hatred. She turned to James. ‘I will never jump fence, you know that.’

James sneered. ‘You don’t have a choice, Sade. The Russians have paid a high prize for you.’

‘You can take a horse to the river, James, nothing more.’

‘But if I throw the horse into the river, it will surely drink.’

Sade regarded James with a mixture of anger, pity and disgust. ‘I thought you were a patriot James.’

‘I was, Sade but everyone has a price. Everyone can’t die a slave. Look at you, what haven’t you done for this country? Now, how do they pay you back? They throw you to the Chinese devil. I am not a fool; I know when to jump. You too have a price.’

Sade shook her head. ‘I don’t have a price; Sade will never jump, she will never betray her country.’

‘But your country betrayed Sade; they framed Sade and left her in the mercy of the Chinese. You should jump for Russia.’

Sade rose to her feet.

‘Please sit down,’ James said, his hand making for his pistol butt in his jacket.

‘My country betrayed me, yes, but I am one person. It is not the same thing as me betraying my country, one hundred and fifty million people, which is what you have done. I will never do that James. And if you send me to Russia, I am going to kill half the population.’

James laughed and exchanged ominous glances with the Cuban. ‘Sade, we have thought of everything. You are too dangerous to leave loosed. And as soon as you arrive Moscow we will erase your memory. You will wake up a Russian, with Russian name and identity. You won’t remember anything, not your conscience, not love, not even God; but you will never forget one thing, your killing skills. You will just be an instrument of death. You won’t just be a robot, no; Sade, you will be worse than a robot.’

The muscles in Sade’s stomach began to tighten in spite of herself, but her face remained dead-pan. ‘You can’t do that, James.’

‘We wasting time,’ the Cuban complained.

‘Our friend is impatient.’ James brought out a two radio phone. ‘Bring him here.’

Sade’s heart began to hammer on her chest. ‘Him? Bring who?’

‘Let’s wait a moment.’

The moment lasted a century for Sade. Her worst fears were confirmed when the door of the interrogation room opened and two big men entered pushing an unconscious heavily bandaged Dozie on a wheel-bed. Sade rushed towards him but a hand grabbed her wrist, wrung her around and cut her face with a righteous blow that did its job. Sade didn’t know who hit her; she just found herself on the floor.

‘Don’t be emotional about this,’ James advised.

‘You leave the poor man out of this.’ Sade was out of breath.

‘No no,’ the Cuban said. ‘You kill my wife I kill your man. Draw draw.’

‘Your wife was a traitor.’ Sade sat up. ‘She was spying on Nigeria. And you know the rules, spying carries the death penalty.’

‘Ever heard of the word vengeance?’ James asked her.

‘You stay out of this James. Dozie has nothing to do with his wife, I am responsible.’ Then she began struggling to her feet, with the hand-cuffs it was real struggle, but Sade rose to her feet. She came to a stand before the Cuban. ‘If you want to kill anybody, kill me!’

The two big men came forward and held Sade on either elbow, ready to pounce. Mr Hernandez brought out a small pistol and pointed it on Dozie’s neck. ‘It was knife you kill my wife. But I don’t like knifing.’

Sade couldn’t watch Dozie die. ‘I beg you in the name of God, leave him out of this! He is not my husband, we only became lovers few days ago, you can’t kill him.’

‘You kill my wife!’

‘She was a spy!’

‘I love my wife.’

‘Then take your revenge on me!’

The Latin American shook his head. ‘We want you in Russia. So I kill you man.’

‘James, you can’t let him do this. Come on, where is your conscience?’

‘You asked me to stay out of this…’

Sade was at the verge of madness. ‘If you kill him I am going to be so heart-broken, I won’t concentrate in Russia. If I go to Russia we become associates! Why do this to a comrade?’

‘We wasting time,’ Hernandez rammed his gun on Dozie’s neck.

Sade’s heart stopped beating.

James hand-held phone began to ring.
# #

About twenty-five Chinese men armed with heavy machine guns stood around Mr Xing in the dark hall of an abandoned building; the hall was lit by a small bulb and the hatred in Xing’s eyes.

‘Put on your masks,’ he ordered. Fifty hands put on black hoods over yellow faces.

‘Your assignment is to launch an attack at the Secret Service Headquarters. They think they can deceive us, but China can never be deceived. We will get her our way. When you get there, shoot at anything at sight. You have all seen the girl’s picture. Now, whatever you do, don’t leave the headquarters without her dead body. Is that understood?’

There was a Mandarin chorus of yeses.

‘The Nigerians are no fools. They will know we did it. But if they can’t prove it, then we can bluff it away. We could blame the attack on Boko Haram.’ His voice rose menacingly. ‘But don’t leave any clues that will point back to us. If any of you falls, take his body or if his body is too heavy, take his head off. Whatever you do, the Nigerians shouldn’t know we did it. Understood?’

‘Yes sir.’

‘Good luck. Remember, no errors.’

The men began to troop out to the hall, ready for war.
# #

James hissed when he saw the caller was the National Security Adviser.

Mr Hernandez’s face crowded as he watched James lift the phone to his ear.

‘Hello, sir.’

‘James,’ the National adviser’s voice was firm and piercing. ‘What is the status of Sade?’

James hesitated. ‘She is dead.’

‘Don’t lie to me, James, Sade isn’t dead. What the hell are you up to?’

‘What the hell do you people want from her? Didn’t you wash your hands from Sade a few days ago? For a crime you yourself committed!’

‘Forget history, James. We are interested in Sade. We gave the Chinese seven days and they didn’t use it. There is an urgent job for Sade in Brazil. Get Sade into a plane and fly her to me immediately.’

‘I am not going to do that, sir.’

‘It is an order,’ the superior security chief shouted.

‘I won’t take your useless orders; you can’t order me around. You guys wanted Sade dead and you left her offside; now you have a job in Brazil for her; that is nonsense! Utter nonsense!’

‘Do you know who you are talking to?’

‘I don’t care!’

‘I—’

James flipped close the phone.

‘Who that?’ the Cuban asked.

‘A stupid politician asking that I transfer Sade to Abuja.’

‘You dare not do that.’

‘Of course,’ James said.

Dozie coughed and stirred. Sade rushed to him and knelt before him, her hand trembling on him. ‘Dear!’

‘Wait,’ James touched his Cuban accomplice on the shoulder. ‘Let her have a minute with her lover. 60 seconds.’
# #

The National Security Adviser dropped the call and smiled mercilessly at the phone. He pushed the blanket off his body, stepped on the tiles and walked to the fridge. As he brought out a bottle of gin he came to his decision. He left the bottle on top of the fridge and walked back to the telephone on the foot of the bed. He dialled a number. It rang for a few moments before been connected and a tired voice grumbled a ‘hello’.

‘Toby, listen…’

‘It is almost 1am,’ complained the tired voice.

‘Toby, listen. James has defected.’

‘What? James is the last man in the Service to defect!’

‘Well, he has and I think Sade is in danger. Take a squad to the Headquarters, arrest James and get Sade here. If need be, use force, kill anybody who stands on your way. It’s under my authority, use all your power! Get Sade out!’

‘Yes sir.’ Toby was now fully awake. The Adviser’s orders were never manhandled.

‘How long before you get to the Service headquarters?’

‘Twenty minutes.’

‘Make it fifteen. I always forget, how many years have you been in your rank?’

‘Six years.’

‘That’s too long. Your promotion will be made public this week, but first get Sade out alive. I am not sure, but I suspect I don’t like James too much. If you get him on your custody, arrange a little accident for him. Understood?’

Toby who was only thinking of his promotion answered, ‘Sure, sir.’
# #

Dozie opened his eyes and saw Sade’s saddened face. He couldn’t place where he was, but the pungent smell of forebodings was overpowering.

‘Didn’t know we will ever talk again.’ Sade smiled brightly in spite of her fears.

‘Where are we?’ Dozie’s voice was surprisingly strong.

‘On our wedding bed,’ Sade whispered.

‘I see.’ Dozie sighed. ‘I was going to say this is my death bed.’

‘Please don’t say that.’

‘Our wedding was today?’

Sade nodded. She couldn’t trust her voice.

‘Why are you not on wedding gown?’

Sade looked at the lace Jemima lent her. ‘It’s traditional wedding.’

‘And you are crying.’

‘Tears of joy.’

‘And the hand-cuffs?’

Sade swallowed hard. ‘They are the wedding ring.’

‘Why am I not wearing any?’

Then Sade saw it, a shade of red liquid had stained the sheet around Dozie’s head. His breathing was becoming more and more laboured. It must be palm-oil, yes it must. She hadn’t seen palm oil in years, she couldn’t tell how palm oil got to Dozie’s sheet but this just couldn’t be blood. The liquid was, Sade looked at it closely, so much like blood! The sickening revelation of the issue dawned on her when she looked up and saw the mischievous smile of the Cuban. ‘Y-you-you shot him?’

‘You kill my wife…’

‘NOOOOOO!’

What happened next was not the doing of Sade. It was Sade who pleaded with them to spare Dozie; it was Sade who told Dozie the fiction of their marriage; it was Sade who saw the blood. But the woman who charged at the sight of Dozie’s blood wasn’t Sade. There were four men in the room but no one saw it coming. They just saw Sade flying up, then Sade, Dozie and his bed and Hernandez tumble to the floor. It took the two big men minutes to disengage Sade’s hand-cuffs from the Cuban’s neck. As the men dragged Sade away, James stepped in, felt the Cuban’s pulse and shook his head.

‘She broke his neck. It is over for us! We can’t go to Russia without him!’ James kicked Sade on the belly. ‘How dare you!’

Sade writhed with pain but her face sustained its sardonic smile. ‘He shot my man, I broke his neck.’

‘You will die for it,’ James placed his gun barrel on Sade’s chest.

Gunshots began to sound on the background. James withdrew his finger on the trigger. ‘What is happening?’ he asked no one in particular.

His mobile phone and the telephone began to ring simultaneously. James hesitated then connected his mobile phone. ‘Hello.’

‘This is Toby,’ came the voice. ‘You are under arrest.’

‘Arrest? For what?’

‘I am only taking orders, James. Please, let’s not quarrel over this. But I will be grateful if I meet Sade in good shape.’

And the call ended. ‘Fool,’ James cursed. He stretched his hand to the telephone and lifted the receiver. ‘Who is this?’

‘We are being attacked by gunmen,’ came the receptionist’s strained voice.

‘Who are the attackers? The Chinese?’

‘Yes, sir. Nearly thirty of them attacking from all sides.’

‘It’s okay.’ James sighed with frustration. His Russian dream was in shambles, now the Chinese would mow him or Toby’s Service Policemen would squeeze him. He didn’t know what to do to Sade. Even if he escaped these, the National Security Adviser would never forgive nor forget about him. Gunshots continued to report in the building. He turned to the two big men.
‘This building is under fire. Go out and defend it.’ His voice was weak. The men left. He looked at Sade on the floor, Dozie’s bloodied head on her lap, and he bit his lip with hatred. He would just shoot Sade and end everything, why not? Well, the Chinese were here; perhaps to kill her now would be doing her a big favour; let the Chinese come and have their prize.

Dozie was now unconscious. The Cuban had shot him on the neck. Sade in all her years in the field had never seen anyone survive a bullet wound on the neck; but she wouldn’t let Dozie go. Her eyes were locked on Dozie’s handsome innocent face. He could be sleeping! The Chinese were coming, but she wasn’t afraid of them. If Dozie died, she would have no need for life and would gladly let the Chinese take her; but if Dozie survived, not even a billion Chinese people could subdue her. Everything rested on Dozie’s fragile life, a life which at this moment was ticking, ticking, ticking…

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I want to thank Chikaodili, Sade’s first reader. When I started Sade, I would call her on phone and bore her with the un-straightened scenes. She listened attentively and urged me on. If she had dismissed the story, I wouldn’t have continued with it. Thanks, I will always be grateful. Thanks too, to Ella Amecks who supported this project whole-heartedly. She it was who encouraged me to include romance in the story and when I created the character that would love Sade, she named him Dozie. Now, imagine what this story would have been without Dozie! And Ella went on to edit five Days for me. Nne, I owe you more than I can ever give.

When my co-pilot and assistant, Alexis read Day One, she said she wasn’t thrilled; Kesta read Days One and Two and said ‘you tried sha’ before laughing at my glib effort. I laughed too, but I wished I had a hand fork to poke his big nose. Then Oge read Day One and said I should turn it into a film. Thanks sister for giving me the courage to face Alexis and Kesta after their cold-water responses. I might have abandoned the project, if not for you, Oge. When I returned to Kesta he opened my eyes to the real thriller, with his experience of having read over nearly a thousand thrillers, I got the work heightened and removed implausibles. Then I returned to Alexis and got a pass mark. Thanks Kesta and Alexis for your tough loves.

Herbert read Day One and made corrections, thanks boss. Ruth read Day One and in her analysis called me a small Achebe, thanks for making my head swell. Thanks to Moses who gave me the e-version of Sidney Sheldon’s entire books, (Sheldon taught me the rudiments of thrilling) and who never fails to retweet Sade. Thanks Seun—Engineer ‘the ‘‘men’’ of God’ who does 100% share of my blog on Facebook; my regards to madam, my ardent reader. Thanks Ugbem for your intriguing encouragements. Thanks to my ex-roommate who introduced me to the wild life of Jack Bauer. Thanks Vicky for your Day One encouragement that carried me throughout the Days. Thanks to Vincent who encouraged my founding this blog. Thanks to Walter whose blog mentors mine. Thanks Mwangi whose novel Going Down River Road inspired this title. Thanks Adeline who did the first share. My gratitude to Haske for your constant support. Miriam for your constant love for my work I say na gode.

My brother Daniel took the blog personally and Sade seriously, thanks man. To my sister under whose house I began writing Sade and for the overfeeding, Thanks. To Favourite Cousin Loveth who thinks I am already as good as Achebe, imela.

How could I forget Sencen? Sade’s biggest lover, I can’t thank enough. She is my biggest commenter and the first non-Nigerian reader of my blog. Kenyans, South Africans and Americans now read my blog, but it is Sencen’s Zimbabwean connection that waters my eyes and greases my elbow. Nor would I forget Anie, Sade’s biggest adversary and a good critic of the episodes.

Thanks to Ahmadu Bello University for their abundant free wireless internet service.

You guys are the bomb!

And a few hours ago, Nedy read the entire six series of Sade and called me on phone to shout, ‘I love Sade, I love Sade, I so so loooovee Sade, but I love you more.’ Whenever people praise my work on Sade I frown (so as not be called arrogant—‘arrogant’). But with Nedy, it was impossible to tighten the face; I didn’t just smile, I cheered. Thanks, Nedy, I love you too. In fact, such is my love for you that when you asked me not to kill Dozie I edited Day Seven.

Thanks to the greatest parents on earth for everything, especially for sending me to the university where I met 90% of these people.

My Father in Heaven. Thanks for the gift of life, thanks for the grace to carry on and thanks for these people you put on my path. I bless You God.

(And to Sade herself I’d say, ‘Let’s do this again!’)