It’s all Adobi Tricia Nwaubani’s fault. For over 20 years, I worked hard to write prose like Chinua Achebe and poetry like Wole Soyinka. I wanted to be taken seriously as a writer. But lo and behold, I have nothing to show for it.
I know this because I once googled myself. I didn’t see anything that encouraged me to do that again. If you google yourself once, you are curious. If you google yourself twice, you are immodest. If you google yourself thrice, you’re a public intellectual.
I tried to be an intellectual. But I found it very hard to achieve. Please, ignore the immodesty: I’m settling for a life as a roadside poet. As a roadside poet, all that I owe Nigeria is to poop.
A disclosure: I haven’t been accepted as a member of the National Association of Roadside Poets. But I have a paddy in the association who gave me the license to parade myself as one. He is a delegate to the association’s annual convention. He has assured me that I will get in. All that I’m required to do is to oil their shoulders. If that fails, I can lend the members some vowels. You know what I mean?
I had always wanted to be a star. My projection was that by 2011, I would have a driver; an assistant to carry my bag; another assistant to hold my cell phones; a boy whose job would be to polish my shoes; and three or four maidens who would scrub my back whenever I take a bath. I was supposed to have a compound inside which there would be many houses, including my own church, my own ambulance station, my own hospital, my own fire brigade house, my own police station and my own mortuary.
As 2010 was coming to an end, and none of those ambitions materialized, I began to examine my head. That was when Adobi Tricia Nwabuani published her classic essay in the New York Times. In it, she argued that humorous writers, like herself, were disrespected. To address that injustice, she instructed the Nobel Prize Committee not to award a Nobel Prize for Literature to any other African writer who writes serious literature.
That was how it struck me that the future of literature is in comedy. As part of my New Year resolutions, I have decided to join the comedy club.
Next time you see Basketmouth, Ali Baba Bakassi etc, check their hand bags; I will be in their bags learning the craft.
As a failed writer, I dabbled through various jobs to make ends meet. I was once a licensed barber. I sold old houses as a realtor. I actually memorized the U.S. tax codes as a tax preparer. I flipped hamburgers in a fast food restaurant. I was a taxi driver and a security guard at the same time. My picture is still hanging on the wall of a Virginia Beach motel where I became the employee of the month. I did all these without knowing that all I was doing was just searching for a meaning in my life.
At one point, I simplified my desires in life. I wanted a face without pimples, a soul without doubts, a conscience without concoctions and a lover who will not need a bouquet of flowers the day after.
I could not achieve any of the above because of the undue interference of that stupid virus called morality. Its insistence that I care about humanity and take seriously what is right really messed me up.
I’m joining the comedy club to end any need to think. With this move, I put all the confusions of my genius behind me. I have sacrificed enough and I merit some pampering. I’m going out there to take everything. That’s what comedians do. They are life’s monsters. Comedians are the only ones who do not have to justify anything – other than their punch lines.
As a comedian, I’m allowed to stereotype. In fact, it is our stock in trade. Stereotyping is like assuming that anyone who smokes cigarettes also smokes ganja (weed, goof, marijuana). I know. Alexander Dumas warned that, “All generalizations are wrong-including this one.” But I have to ignore that to make a living as a comedian.
Many years ago, my father told me that satire thrives on the use of ridicule, irony and sarcasm, to portray folly and destroy them with mockery. The trouble with satire is that those you expect to use their tongues to count their teeth often do not have that skill. Men created riddles out of fear, not out of any noble desire to stimulate thought.
Despite that minor trouble, satire is what I want to dish out in this column week after week. If you don’t support this column with thunderous applauses, I will be forced to write a ten part series on the Economic Importance of the Prostitutes of Gada. You know that I can do it because I passed through the Guardian newspaper’s School of Journalism.
A colleague of mine, Basketmouth, got married the other day. According to the Daily Sun, amongst the celebrities who attended his wedding were Ali Baba, Jay Jay Okocha, Genevieve, Tee A and Dele Momodu. I’m kind of confused. Dele Momodu is a celebrity? When did that happen? I thought he was working on becoming a credible presidential aspirant? Didn’t Richard Akinjide say that Momodu is not qualified to teach P. E. at his village primary school?
Anyway, my friend, Basketmouth, took his wife to Dubai for honeymoon. Isn’t that romantic? Arabian nights, the moon, a maiden, honey… A happy ending is guaranteed. Unless the Ogidigborigbo of Africa, on the run from Dubai, crawls out of a desert hole in a female dress, unshaved and disheveled.
Talking about disheveled people, I was recently confused when someone asked me the name of Nigeria’s Vice President. Just when I started asking around, he appeared in front of the press to announce that the Federal Government of Nigeria would establish 40 additional universities. Forty? I’m not a party pooper, but isn’t 40 too much? Asked how many Universities Nigeria has, the Vice President replied, “Ahmadu Bello University and others.”
That was exactly my reaction. That money has no value is because you do not have a lot of it -the same with universities. Please correct me if I’m right.