“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact” – Arthur Conan Doyle
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive” – Walter Scott
“People trust their eyes above all else but most people see what they wish to see, or what they believe they should see, not what is really there” – Zoe Marriott
At the age of fifteen, I decided I’ve had enough of academics. I was sick and tired and dead beat and weary and…erm, erm…in short, I was sick and tired and dead beat and…phuck it *take a deep breath brother before you continue*
Alright, I was sick and tired and dead beat and weary of going to classes and listen to bespectacled teachers read out loudly from their lecture notes. No freaking originality, no freaking research, no nothing. I was sick and tired of listening to other people’s theories. There was no inspiration from those boring lectures. The demons in my head continually told me I should switch lanes. So I made my decision; I would leave for Nnewi and start an apprenticeship under a renowned motorcycle spare parts dealer. In a couple of years, I’d be as rich as Coscharis and Ifeanyi Uba, I thought. And when I become filthy rich, I’d come back to this town in a big jeep, ‘all gold everything’ on my neck, grills on my teeth and some cash in hand, and taunt my poor bespectacled teachers. Pamurogo!
A couple of months later, I left for Nnewi with only a small bag and 4 grand to start a new career. Good riddance to the pointless academic pursuit. Having heard a lot about the rich people from Nnewi, I expected to see a town adorned with beauty and riches. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. When our bus stopped at the car park, I asked the driver whether we were still at Nnobi. “No, which kain Nnobi? Na Nnewi we dey now”, the driver replied.
I looked around the car park. On my left was a mammoth waste bin overflowing with garbage and on the right was a crazy guy smoking weed in the open and screaming ‘A di go di m wuuuuu’ as loudly as he could. Behind the crazy guy was a young lady ‘sagging’ the pair of jeans she was wearing such that her butt crack was visible. Now, this is my kind of town.
I stayed in a room at my oga’s boy’s quarters; a room that kinda reminded me of my first night at a police cell. Not that it was as dirty as the police cell, but the space was so tiny that I always felt the walls were closing in on me.
The next day, I woke up at about 5 a.m. and washed my oga’s jeep. In an hour, I was preparing to go to the shop. Today na today, I thought…the beginning of a new career in uncharted waters. I hoped the future would be as bright as I expected it to be. I even sowed a seed of faith at the Catholic Church near the GTBank and spent some extra minutes praying the rosary in front of the grotto of the Virgin Mary. Na so!
Hustling at a motorcycle spare parts shop no be beans o…the work is as tiresome as a prostitute working on her clients’ man-shafts after the Ramadan fast. Kai, this life hard o! From carrying very heavy cartons to writing the invoice meticulously, I almost had a mental breakdown. So by 4 pm, I decided I’ve had enough…I would sneak out of the shop and proceed to Mama Ebuka’s restaurant and have me a cold bottle of Star Lager with dried pork and vegetable sauce.
When I arrived at the shop, Chief Osadebe’s saintly voice was oozing softly from the speakers nearby, accompanied by guitar riffs and drum beats. For a second, I forgot about all my sorrows as I placed my orders.
Mama Ebuka’s restaurant was amongst a row of shops situated at a street in Uruagu. Most of the other shops besides hers sold food and drinks also. But what endeared people to her restaurant was a special delicacy she made with pork, carrots and scent leaves; they call it pork bollae. The only shop that didn’t sell food and drinks was owned by a born-again Christian who sold Christian books and CDs. Brother Jude was notorious for playing Christian songs so loud that it drowned other songs oozing out of the stereos in the other shops. According to him, he was doing the will of God. So on this day, he wasn’t playing any Christian songs. Rather, he was playing an audio recording of a man that claimed he was delivered from the powers of darkness.
As I was having the scrumptious meal and chilled lager, I was listening intently to what the man was saying. He claimed he was initiated in the village at the age of three by an elderly witch. After the initiation, his first task was to murder his mother which he did without batting an eyelid. From then, he didn’t look back while performing his malevolent activities. Over the years, he and his cronies continued wrecking havoc on unsuspecting victims that weren’t covered by the blood of Jesus. Ookie Dookie!
I took another piece of meat from the pork sauce and watched an elderly woman that came to buy fufu and ofe nsala cringe in horror as she listened intently to the voice of the fresh born-again. I also continued listening while munching away. He claimed he had caused at least 40 accidents and killed numerous unborn kids. He also said they sometimes turned to fishes and traveled to the marine world to attend meetings with the Queen of the Coast. One time, they were 12 evil folks that went to have a meeting with the devil and only 2 of them came out alive. At this point, I burst out laughing and almost knocked over my tumbler. Chai, Nigerian people and their drama! Meeting with the devil…my foot!
He continued narrating. He claimed he was ‘arrested’ by God when he went to the church of a powerful man of God to wreck havoc. Arrest? With wetin? Catapult abi na pistol? As the prayer warriors were praying, he suddenly felt his body was on fire and started confessing. That was how he turned a new leaf. He ended by saying he wanted to use that medium to tell the world about the importance of prayers and knowing God. Ogbeni, calm down jor…you be real hustler!
I inquired from Brother Jude how much he sold a copy of the born-again’s CD and he said it was 300 bucks. I did a quick calculation; if about 20 gullible folks purchased a copy of the CD each, it would translate to 6 grand in a day. And if he sold for 30 days, he’d make 180 grand. At that moment, I doffed my cap for the born-again hustler. The guy sabi better way to make cool cash jor!
In a nation ravaged by sufferings and poverty, a lotta folks have come up with better business plans; ones that don’t involve getting on the wrong side of the law. Instead of resorting to kidnappings and robberies, wise guys have come up with better strategies to make guap; feeding off the emotions and intelligence of the gu0llible religious populace. This fraudulent scheme started in the early 90s with a man called Emmanuel Eni, who wrote a book about being delivered from the powers of darkness and made a lot of money. I guess he was also invited to different churches to share his testimonies. Now that was a wise guy in action.
I mean for Pete’s sakes, if someone claims to have murdered some unborn kids and taken other people’s lives, we should call the cops on them instead of celebrating their salvation. They committed a crime and they should account for every single life they took. It is as simple as that. And after the investigations are over, they’d have to be prosecuted (if found guilty) before their salvation is celebrated. And don’t give me that lecture on forgiveness.
So as I sat in Mama Ebuka’s shop, I quickly made up my mind. I would give myself only one year to make a rational progress towards becoming as rich as I expected to be. After one year had elapsed, I would do a quick appraisal and if I’ve not met my target, I would willingly insult my oga’s wife and cart away with some spare parts from the shop. I would proceed to Obosi, where I would sell them and make some cash. With the cash, I would head to a studio at Onitsha and record my own version of being delivered from the powers of darkness. I would sound like the prodigal son and say I am sorry for all the evils I have done. And afterwards, I would ask my agent to sell a copy of the CD for 200 bucks.
Soon, I’d have me enough cash to go back to my town and torment my bespectacled teachers. Eee speak lee kwe!