Oil and Water
The year na twenty-one hundred and plenty things don happen. The Twenty Fifty Reform wey finally unite the whole leaders wey dey Africa make our continent, wey be sufferhead before, begin dey sustain herself kpata kpata don shele and Africa no keep leg as she keep before. And sake of say plenty people wey dey overseas before, especially black people wey their blood mix with Oyibo don too plenty for area, language don change and pidgin na the language wey soft for everybody mouth, call am lingua franca—it concern you. Another thing wey change face full time na technology—it no dey as it dey before and my brother, it no dey at all as them show you for all those una early two-thousand film.
The place where this story shele gan na partly Nigeria and partly na Cameroon before, before the second civil war, wey been burst for twenty fourty four, divide everybody make them get separate provinces wey run things on their own. But those provinces shaa still get Council House wey unite their leaders and the person wey be Oga pata pata for the whole area and him word na final for that Council na the Big Chief
* * *
Even as Otuka leave him laser spear and him service robe for the Royal Court run enter street like man wey mad dog dey pursue, everybody still recognise am say he be boy wey dey serve Big Chief. It no hard to know boys wey dey serve Big Chief, on how you don see their body wey dey shine for sun like black leather wey don collect better polish, the sacred scars wey dey their back, the tattoos, the cowries wey dey hang for their toro-toro neck, and their legs wey firm for ground like say it get root wey dey hold them from under, you go know say na them. And as these boys them dey so, na the Unity brigade under the Council of Provinces dey take time to select them from different provinces based on their special spiritual strength and capabilities. Otuka own be say him fit run like antelope and too him no dey quick tire. Central City get different kind of people and na melting pot for people wey from different province come, especially for business and tourism. People full for the street where him dey run dey go, dey sweat: local women wey dey sell fruits, men wey dey sell spare parts for those danfo wey dey fly—and that afternoon Otuka no need danfo, him leg na everything. It get women wey dey advertise their charms, Priest wey dey preach, Oyibo immigrants wey dey sell ankara—he just dey push everybody comot from him way as him dey run.
The Council House he dey find dey go, together with the Royal Court, dey the Central city. Sky shaa busy pass ground, wetin you want see for ground if no be only human beings; some dey gallivant like sheep and some get important business. For sky, aerocars, aerotaxi and danfo be odogwu and their route clear wellah.
As everything take twist for the city, it no go hard Johnny-just-come to loss. The street waka like snake pass the City Square where Azikiwe monument stand like Goliath, pass the Nkrumah falls come submerge enter the City lake, enter wetin them dey call Wazobia tube, and from the other end the street come spread like Y for where the Council House dey. So as guy wey don jug from Central city reach Niger Delta under one hour, Council Hall na appetizer.
As him carved sandals begin dey hammer for the hard flooring wey surround the Council House he remember say court boys no dey enter the when them never invite them. He fit report emergency through the screen wey dey the entrance wey them fortify with gigarium element—gigarium na strong vibranium alloy—but he no fit enter. As him place him hand for the screen, the mouthpiece no gree engage. Na two of him black hands wey later unlock the mouthpiece.
The fear wey don soak him body dilute him voice well make it light like woman own. It no help even as he still raise him voice make it loud, but the tech wey dey that Council House no be your mate—it grab am quick relay everything, as him dey talk am, “Emergency from Royal court! It don happen my oo!…Our Big Chief don kpai from the Covid when he don dey fight for months and na this afternoon it happen,”
* * *
Silence wey greet the news inside the Council House heavy like bag of fufu, and if to say it get toothpick wey drop for ground, everybody go hear am loud and clear. The person wey scatter the silence na Odibo, Odibo na one professor wey follow fight the second civil war as army commander, him hand also dey for Reform wey shele fifty years ago—him hair dey like say them pour am sand—anywhere when him stand everybody dey always throway salute give am as person wey get correct sense wey no common.
“Erh…I salute una well, my fellow countrypeople and fellow rulers of our Provinces. Na wetin book talk we go do, the next Big Chief go from East Province come and na before dusk as our custom talk na him we go select the person,” as him talk finish he know say him talk as usual, no go go well for many people ear, especially some of the oversea-returnees wey dey the Council wey no like as him take push make pidgin replace pure English for the entire Provinces after the Reform but he no send. Them don try to kill am many times based on the kind rugged policies him dey back, but it dey be like say the man na pussycat, he no fit kpai like that.
As him gum nyash for seat, another man jump up like say ant bite am. Him name na Tony. If you no look this Tony twice, as him take yellow like pawpaw and as him hair take soft like silk, you go think say na pure Oyibo but true-true na countryman—na one of those people wey struggle trace their origin from overseas come back after the Reform. Tony money dey come from New age minerals wey them dey mine for River Niger, also him dey fund one AfriSpace Estate project for Mars.
Him yan dey like this: It no make sense at all—this province una book talk say na their turn no too get better candidate—we no go want make it hard to know who our Big Chief be when him sit-down for him court with him boys—
“Make thun—thunder dis—disfigure your mouth if you yan that yan again” na the Council head wey spark, and the man na better stammerer. As him vex, many people wey dey like him join am, begin dey hala. People wey—like him, come from tribes wey dey inside East Province, people wey don too chop plenty insult only because say their Mama born them with skin wey black like charcoal, people wey them don gradually use because say them over black shift them one side for many things, politics especially. As e be for the Council House that time, wahala dey boil like ogbono soup.
Odibo raise him hand make him talk again, “Oga shebi we don a settle am since for our decrees say make skin colour no dey separate us—because say you get Oyibo blood no mean say you better pass us wey black”
“Te-te-tell am, if-if-if him go-go hear. Them no dey use eye see black countryman—it just dey like say that Re-re-reform no get use again.”
Tony laugh one kind wicked laugh, shake him head for where him sit-down. One country man, wey him hair soft like Tony own, wey dey him back raise hand make him chook him own mouth like him mates.
“The best thing na to vote for the East Candidate now if the person good fine, if he no good we go select from another province as our book also talk,” him talk, “it never reach to fight.” Him voice sharp like gong. Everybody immediately concur with wetin him talk because they know say normal normal the man way pure, the small tribe he dey represent for North province dey do well. The Council head use hand summon the East delegate make him show their candidate and the man no waste time bring out the candidate.
Nobody dey use ballot papers dey vote again normally, even electronic voting too sef turn old school after some criminals use computer manipulate votes make their man win. Now it get technology system wey dey the Council House wey dey read people mind before him go make final decision on top voting result. For plain pidgin, voting na by mind.
As the vote don start, the oga pata pata of all silence arrest everybody wey dey the hall, and the system come begin to dey count: one-two-three—with woman voice.
“Voting don end. Twenty two people dey support the candidate and twenty two people no like the candidate,” System announce.
“Na lie! It no dey possible. We pass forty four for this Council,” Deputy Council head protest.
And true true them pass forty four for that Council House wey be leaders, the System no count two people. System dey only skip people wey tension dey hold, since everything na by mind or people wey wear anything wey no too dey organic. As them begin dey torchlight the matter, they find out say the people wey the System skip na two men wey sit-down beside Tony and when their two gather courage speak out everybody discover say Tony use him leg kick them two under table as the System dey count make fear enter their body, as bully when him be. Nobody get time to waste saliva on top the Tony matter, everybody know say on top leadership matter the man na snake, so them tell the System make him count again. This time na twenty four people dey support Udo as the next Big Chief.
Na now the main kasala burst for the hall, and na Tony and him stronghead gang be the sponsors. Na so them use their hands dey attack anybody wey their hand reach.
Na so Chairs and objects begin dey fly everywhere—
My eye o!
My head o!.
Alarm wey dey the Council House begin dey hala. Council attendants soon flood the hall like water begin dey arrange Court boys make them bring aerocar wey go move the Big Chief elect.
Before four knack that day, news wey begin dey circulate everywhere talk say them don kpai Odibo for him swimming pool wey dey him lakeside villa for the Central city.
* * *
Six sharp, the Council head and some people wey dey support am gather for the inner courtyard wey dey the Royal court and one of the boys wey dress like Otuka, wey get nsibidi tattoo for him neck wey mean leopard for Igbo begin dey read the coronation decree. The person wey the majority select, wey been serve well as adviser to the former Big Chief, wey him name be Udo don already sit-down dey chill for the Provincial throne, dey wait for the final oat. Immediately them don read the decree finish everybody come bow nwanyoly give the new Big Chief.
For Otuka mind, him dey jubilate say him Oga black as him black—and true true he never see Big Chief wey black like that since them born am. Him get big hope say, at least, people wey black pass their fellow countrypeople go now dey get mouth for every province. And like that everybody fit begin dey corporate as equal human beings wey nature really make them—all man go dey respect him neighbor—and Africa go dey stand strong.
Outside the Royal court doormouth, you go see as the sky black like say heavy rain wan descend over the city. Look am well oo, no be rain. Na black birds dey descend—na vultures wey no go easy to use eyes count sake of say them tiny like dust and dey move fast like breeze for yonder. Na since fifty seven years ago, before the second civil war, na him them last see this kind thing, and the countrypeople get one ancient belief say anytime it happen na bad sign. With the kepu kepu wey don dey fly around on top the things wey don shele for the Council House that day the only thing wey countrypeople dey reason be say—it fit mean say another war dey come.