The Czar of Africa

By Onesimus Enesi,  2004

It was a day I was torn between laughter and weeping. Somehow, I restrained myself to reflect on the issues involved and my stake in it. I found that I needed caution so I won’t be guilty of crying more than the bereaved. Much as I battled to dismiss my feelings, I could not, and this is probably due to my humanity, which I shared with more than two billion other homo-sapiens. But what was the issue?

I am not a Yoruba, talk more or less of being an Egba man. But, the day our President Olusegun Obasanjo was installed the Balogun of Owu in Egbaland, I felt sick at ease as if a harbinger of instability and chaos had just flown over Owu. Watching the television and seeing the snaky Balogun cap (was it a crown?) hung on the President’s head and accompanied with his usual bumptious bounce, I developed a feeling of foreboding of trouble, even when I was tempted to laugh off the winding headgear perching on his head.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo    The Balogun of Owu

But then, I asked myself: what is in it for me? If nothing, why should I weep when those, who installed him and those for who he was capped, were all teeth, rejoicing? Why must I develop some goose humps over a matter, which in so far as I am concerned, was neither here nor there? Why not laugh, then?

I figured that laughing over the weird crown was to ignore my inner self and turn into a child’s play, the future stability of an otherwise serene and peaceful community. Here is where my trouble really began! How do I express this inner feeling communicated to me by an inaudible voice? To whom do I explain?

While these agitations were going on within me, the installation ceremony was over as shown by NTA. Then I began to imagine General (Chief) Olusegun Obasanjo sitting at the head of a kingmakers’ council saddled with the selection of a king for Owu. Soon, I formed a mental picture of some old men in their seventies, discussing, arguing and debating the merit and demerits of this and that candidate, with Baba Iyabo in-charge. I shuddered when I contemplated that these older and more experienced men (at least in the task at hand) had advanced reasons and evidence far superior to that of the Balogun. A-r-m-a-g-e-d-d-o-n!!

Suddenly, as I looked into space, gazing at nothing in particular, I saw a bull in a China shop doing what he knows best – upturning and hitting at anything and anyone at sight. Then I beheld the consternation and fright of the old men and watched them scamper in various directions – all in an effort to get away from harm’s way. Now, tell me – how do you laugh at this scenario? Or, was I to cry?

Well, that was then, and it is over a year ago. When a few days ago, ‘the come comes to become’ (apologies to the colourful but bombastic K.O. Mbadiwe of blessed memory), Owu Kingmakers assembled to choose a successor to the late king, majority of the kingmakers saw red in the hands of their Balogun. They had naively voted overwhelmingly for a candidate, and the returning officer was dutifully counting the votes cast, a count that spelt defeat for the favourite of the Magayakin Sakwato when, suddenly, the Balogun Owu grabbed the ballot papers from the stupefied returning officer and tore them into shreds. Case closed. C-o-u-r-t!!

For one thing, he is the Balogun Owu, presumably the head of the kingmakers. For another, he is also the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. A Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, he is three times head of state of the most populous country, and leader of the (largest?) party in black Africa.

As current chairman of the African Union (AU), he is – according to his political children (don’t call them arse-lickers) – the President of Africa! We were humoured as to how all other leaders in Africa were crawling on their bellies, begging the Balogun to save the continent by become its leader.

This is the supreme sovereign those fragile-looking septuagenarians were toying with, and I guess he showed them a thing or two on how not to wait for the hurricane. I am not sure if this incident was the reason for my foreboding at his installation as the Balogun of Owu.

You may also wonder if the 2003 election and the 2004 Local Government election were not conducted in the same manner. And these are issues you are free to debate with yourself, hoping that you are not heckling over spilt milk.

Are you saying that the quality of the conduct of the botched selection of the Oba of Owu is the measure or level of the democratic credentials of our rulers? If you say so, I concur; and if you don’t, I abstain. One thing I will not do: I will not constitute myself into a bully in the kindergarten. Why? Because it is unbefitting of the Continental Czar I hope to become!

Culled from Our VISION magazine, Vol.5 No.6, 2004

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