I wrote this article in 2006. Though stale, I think it’s still relevant because the number of mad people seem to be increasing lately at an alarming rate in Ibadan.
Are you crazy? There was a long pause and no one in the crowd dared give an answer. The voice of the Dr Tony Morhino, chairman of the 3rd Annual Memorial Lecture for Tai Solarin beamed again over the microphone, asking the same question, however, this time a few isolated answers of “no”, or “not my portion” was heard from the audience. Then the chairman gave his verdict: you must have to be crazy to effect a change and people like Tai were crazy. The silence suddenly changed to applause and a display of various dentations, as soon as most people who had recoiled from such an insult realised the import of the question. However, I do not intend to go into nitty-gritty of the live of Tai, as Dr Reuben Abati, the Guest Lecturer did a good work on that and it would be quite boring trying to repeat what he said.
However, I had course to recall that question some days after. It was one of these days when the PHCN was in its elements and doing the only work it knows how to do, which is withholding power. The night was quite humid and yours sincerely was trying hard to catch a good deserved night rest, inspite of the presence of mosquitoes that seem to have more than nine lives and have resisted every measure that would have lead to their extinction.
Anyway back to my gist, I was trying to sleep in the middle of the week but down the street was a church that has decided to hold a mid-week all night vigil. My friends in the near by church, seem not to be content on singing and praying alone all night long. They mounted loud speakers that would certainly make rock musicians envious. It was thus the situation that I found myself that night. As I lay tossing on my bed I kept on asking myself these questions: do these people realise that they have turned into a menace? Must they disturb the peace of the neighbourhood before their prayer reach heaven? Don’t they have to go to work the following day? This was because I doubt if they would manage to remain awake and alert the following day after such strenuous exercise at night. Perhaps, their charity (love translated into deeds) does not extend to allowing people have an undisturbed night rest.
Anyway, I survived that night only to be woken up before dawn by the morning cry of a preacher, whose voice now serves as my alarm clock. On my way to work, I was confronted by a poster announcing the a drama production with the title: “God must be crazy.” I had to put on my spectacles to make sure I had seen well and after that I pinched myself to ascertain I was still awake. Such was my shock that the lack of sleep of the previous night paled into insignificance.
When did Ibadan join the league of cities where people openly blasphemed or better still used the name of God in such an impious way to sell the shooting of a play? Is this an organised diabolical campaign to hurt my sensibilities and that of other people? If the intention of the title was to catch my attention, yes it did, however, it failed to attract me to go and see it! Since when did we start using God with such brazen manner in order to make a few nairas? Even with the ‘pious’ excuse that the title may actually have nothing to do with the drama or that it may be a ‘Christian’ play that intends to draw souls to Christ does not justify the use of such blasphemous and highly inflammatory title.
Talking of banners, that was not the end of it! There was another banner that was hoisted on what once had been a pedestrian bridge at Oja Bodija. The inscription on the poster was that the present occupant of the government house has been confirmed to continue in 2007 by the Garrison Commander of Ibadan politics. The eyesore was really complete when one considers the import of the statement; your guess is as good as mine. I’ll rather not go further, I want nobody sending his boys to beat me into my grave!
The drama of the day seems to be just beginning, because a portion near the gate of my office had been colonised by a mad woman. She had resisted all attempts by the security men to dislodge her from her palace as she always returns to the same spot after each raid. Her presence was therefore no longer out of place. However, a few seconds after I had walked into the premises, there was a commotion at the gate and the crazy lady was the eye of the storm. She almost disgraced Grace, a lady colleague of mine, who she had jumped at and almost succeeded in tearing into bits. Her grouse being that Grace usually cat-walked past her every morning and did not have the courtesy of saying good morning. The crazy woman could no longer stand this lack of good manners and therefore decided to put a stop to it.
Are we all going crazy? Have we suddenly jumped the thin line that separates sanity from insanity? Such that we no longer find anything wrong in having our sensibilities violated on a daily basis by tones of rubbish that infiltrate our airwaves and are publicly venerated on our billboards? Have we lost touch of reality to such an extent that we find nothing wrong on seeing our fellow men walking the streets in clad in nothing? We may all have gone crazy if, we no longer see anything out of place or we chose to remain complacent in the face of stupidities. In the words of Martin Luther King Jn (see letter from Birmingham Jail), “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”