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SHADOW OF THE IDEN SERPENT

In ANYTHING on March 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm

adam: oh come on!
how can i be blamed…
isn’t you who created the woman?
the woman you gave me gave me the fruit
and i ate!
how can i be blamed?
ask the woman…

eve: nah, not my fault!
this serpent you created deceived me.
you know it’s not my fault!
blame me not.
the snake, it deceived me!
look, there’s the sly snake…ask it…

serpent: [the serpent forks its tongue…hissing; wriggling its
tail- causing some rustling on the leafed floor of the
edenic garden…it stares scornfully.]

britelife: [running after the serpent…]
is it not you “papa-adam” and “mama-eve”
is talking to?
what have you to say?

serpent: [hisses again…]

deeran: [tugging at britelife’s oversized shirt…]
you’d better leave that serpentine creature
alone!

vil: why are we just standing here?
can’t we kill this snake and eat?

judy2: [thinking of korean cuisine]
here’s a stick vil…
use it to hit it on its head;
i can make korean snake soup
with it!

peacetee: [concerned about animal protection]
is that not maltreatment and extinction
of endangered species?
let’s ask olanajim’s philosophical view on
this…olanajim?

olanajim: i wonder how and why the snake spoke!
it’s a supernatural phenomenon at this age
of creation for a serpent to speak so confusingly!
the mechanics for the vocal, bucal cavity is not
supposed to be well-developed at this age of man…
i shall predicate it on the artificiality of the eventuality
around the superficiality of celestiality…

prince: too much grammar!
less talk- more action, please.
can i have the stick and kill the snake?

bigjay: [wondering what the sex of the snake is…]
ehn- bros, before you hammer the serpent;
can i know the gender- sex – of the serpent?
and is it a virgin or not? how many partners
does it have?

diva_gal: you’ve not even been through
with daughters of eve!
you’re already running after
serpentine chick…

anny: is sex with serpent not a good exercise?
please bigjay, carry on!

kinzo: [he walks in like the prince in “coming to america”…]
kinzo king is here for the show too.

tukur: [coughing mischievously…as he struts toward kinzo]
two of us can play the snake and ladder game, you know.
you climb. i climb.

furtune: [wondering what his own action or word will be…]
stop it, bestiality!

naijaecash: [calculating the market viability of the serpent’s skin…]
please, my people- how much e-gold can i make
from this silly serpent?

kendan: if you’ve been to sodom, south africa or nigeria
the serpent’s skin is worth a million shekels…

megabucks: but first to make its sale profitable
you’ve got to have an effective online
marketing and promotional base…

kufreabasi: please, gimme the snake! let me eat.

abuman: with this serpentine situation…
it is not uncustomary for snakes
to have incestuous relationships
amongst themselves….
serpentine-sex relationship between man and
hiss-animals; i’ll say each one to his tent!

shadow: who picks the last number of snake?

tytylayor: i am trying to guess the job of the serpent…

goldenrolly: the serpent is a confusionist!

edisha: do not condemn the work of holy father…

yemmight: could the serpent be lonely?
is the snake single?

lady: maybe the serpent made love to her!
who knows?

aminah: i guess it is god’s will for the snake…
nothing happens without his knowledge!

freddiewit: i bet the serpent’s not as witty as me…
i challenge the serpent to a wit’s contest!

babazinnih: if it’s who wants to be a millionnaire
i can challenge the serpent…

rivermaya: is the snake by the riverside of babylon?

crown4me: how can that be?
only kings reside by that river…
kings like me who has the crown!

sleek: if the serpent is as sleek as me
i think we shall let it go…
so let’s see who makes the last post here!

olufemi: does the serpent belong to the rank
of global moderators?
or, could the snake be searching
single sisters on the forum?

(…all the while the virtual satan sits there
listening and reading the blabbers of everyone…
pulling the strings of the hissing serpent
that’s unconcerned about everyone’s point of view…
the majority could not carry the vote…
but yet, they all blame satan!
satan vexes…what next?)

the drama continues…shortly:

satan: [sitting still…not having said a word
all this while. he is breathing fire and brimstone;
his eyeballs looking like fiery gorges…sitting
cross-legged, tapping his crooked fingers on
his knees…or, what looked so!
then he stands up satanically- in akimbo…
he opens his mouth, as if to talk, but closes
it again; his dilating pupils surveillancing everything
around him…he heaves. he sighs. he coughs.
he snickers. he growls…then, he roars…
(we can wait forever, but, i don’t see him talking)]

judy2: what are you guys rapping about?
has diva_gal become a commodity?
or, is she a barbie-doll?!

prince: no, she’s a sex-goddess.

crown4me: whatever you guys do, lemme
have my fair share…
or, i’ll tell heavenly authorities!

speak2me: you can go to hell!

funshy: can i follow him?

kufreabasi: why not?
in fact, i’ll send some calabar girls
to accompany you!

abuman: no way!
we have some very pretty, of age
women here in afghanistan who are
for men like them…

menene: since am about to start my beer parlour
business; can someone beg satan to
release the serpent for me…so that
judy2 can make korean snakesoup with it?

tukur: hey, my friend- you’re trying to play
with the cobra’s fangs!

kinzo: let him “jasi”…no long thing!

peacetee: but the serpent is really long…
and you’re saying no long thing?

tytylayor: [wondering what’s happening…then goes
back to playing her game]
i am here!

shadow: [playfully running after her own shadow…]
is there any other number to pick apart from
666?

sleek: hey gurl, try 999!

micheal: it goes beyond all that…

newstart: is there a chance in hell to
start a business with someone

THE INTERLUDE…

oops!

the production props fall apart…
the crew are put asunder!
the creative producer and the executive
director shall be back shortly!

…serious arguments ensue
in the production/studio room

first voice: [soft but indifferent] calm down…i say calm  down…

second voice: [strong and fierce like the sound of
thunder in the night booms]
he’d better calm down, or else…

third voice: [timid-sounding but firm…]
or else what?

second voice: [speaking as if with broken jaw…]
or else, i will clamp you down!
i’ll rubbish you live and direct…

production/studio room: [silence reigns again]…

CURTAINS DOWN…

adam: it is Eve’s fault for being suspicious of my whereabouts.

eve: It is Adam’s fault for leaving me alone; to chase after other women

adam: but you are the only woman on earth

eve: how can i be sure of that

adam: you can find out if you want to

eve: very mad ;how can i when i don’t go out with you.

adam: why not count my ribs

[somewhere close to a bushy garden that looks like the lost garden of eden…
a young man is playing with what looks like a rusted sword; he seems fascinated with
what he has found…then, someone appears on the stage looking beaten and worn-out]

sir iyke: [screaming] give that sword back to me – and now!

solo: [the young man playing with the rusted sword] hey! hey! take it easy man…

sir iyke: [spittle dripping out of his mouth]…(he hissed)

solo: but i didn’t take the sword from you [showing it to him]

[sir iyke attempted to grab the sword away from solo…there seems to be some scuffles as
both fall to the ground struggling over the sword…; “hey! hey! hey! stop fighting” a voice came
from the background. it was kendan].

kendan: now two-fighting! will you stop the struggle?

solo: [panting like a fish abandoned on a sandy beach] he’s trying to steal away this sword from me.

sir iyke: [looking worse more than before] it’s a lie. a very big lie. the sword is mine.

kendan: [looking confidently confused, wonders how to approach the matter carefully…and now many   folks are milling around them] we shall settle this amicably…

achibobo: [who is amongst the teeming crowd cuts in] ha! i know that sword!

marcus orji: [adding his voice] me too!

ebony: isn’t that sword what we used to cut cocoyams in the farm
in the olden days?

islandgirl: i thought you’d know better

icebabe: maybe there’s something about the sword we’re missing

michael: whatever it is, let’s just separate these two fighters before it becomes a
free-for-all fight.

abuman: ok. ok. two fighters! stand apart!

furtune: [looking exasperated] is it like that you’d separate them?

kinzo: [rolling up his trousers and flexing his muscle] ok. you [calling on achibobo and maduka marcus orji]
hold that one and you, hold the other one, as i take the sword from their hands.

diva_gal: [hissing] na wah oh! this must be satan’s sword…

genie: what’s this hullabaloo all about? don’t you folks have more important things to do?

(now separated, the two fighters {sir iyke and solo} look like men thrown down a one-storey building into a pool of muddy water; the two keep panting, speechless and they appear they are going to faint at any point in time)

islandgirl: shall we get these pitiable fellows some drink?

kinzo: no way! not until they explain this their unruly behaviour…

graceded: [supporting kinzo] yes, why are they disturbing public peace?
me and just wedded wife were about doing something when we heard
all this noise going on…and we don’t want to appear like the proverbial
couple whose apartment was on fire yet went on to sleep doing nothing
about it.

icebabe: are you kidding me?

BLIND BUT NOT BOUND

In INTERVIEW on January 9, 2014 at 8:00 am

Solomon Elusoji writes about a physically challenged journalist with a life-long dream of going back to the university to teach Mass Communication. He recently made history to become the first blind journalist to win the highly coveted Nigerian Media Merit Award, in the category of the most innovative reporter of the year

When Gbenga Ogundare lost his sight in 2009, many would have thought that was the end of him. But three years later, he has proven that physical handicap is not necessarily a limitation in maximising one’s potentials. Recently, he was awarded the Nigerian Merit Award, sponsored by Etisalat, in the category of The Most Innovative Reporter of the year.

Asked about his winning streaks, Ogundare shrugs: “The same way an average journalist who is worth his salt win awards was the way I won mine. Firstly, you must have done something that is submitted as an entry to the body organising the award.

“The story that won me the award was about how young Nigerians have been coping with poverty. In this case, you go to an eatery in the guise of wanting to buy something and then you go to their restroom and write on the walls things like ‘are you looking for hot sex?’ or ‘are you looking for a babe or a sugar mummy or daddy’. Then you leave your number there. So, over time, since 2007, I started gathering the information from walls of restrooms across Lagos, Oyo and Ogun states.

“After compiling those information, I now began to call the numbers I got and eventually I did the story. Initially it was titled ‘How Nigerians Cope with Poverty’, then later I changed it to ‘Coping the Hard and Dangerous Way’. It was that particular story that attracted the panel of the Nigerian Merit Award, and they thought they should give it the Etisalat prize of the Most Innovative Reporter of the Year.”

At his office somewhere in Ikeja, Ogundare is seen working on his Laptop. His fingers move with sharp reflexes across the keyboard. His back is hunched. The computer keeps voicing out the commands entered into it. He is writing, and at the same time editing stories for compilation.

Despite without his sight, Ogundare does not see anything difficult in his job. He says: “Editing is not a difficult job if you know what you are in for in the first place. When you came in, you saw me writing and editing at the same time. The truth is that I have been a journalist for over a decade. I didn’t start as a blind reporter. I started as a sighted reporter. Between the time I started and the time I lost my sight, I had been able to foreground myself in my profession so well that even when I lost my sight, it was not a difficult thing for me to still carry on as a writer, a journalist, and above all, as an editor.

“What it only requires of me is that I use a laptop (just like every other person) but my own talks to me. You can hear it. When I am writing or editing, my Laptop is there to guide me. I go out if I need to cross-check facts or investigate anything. If it would require that I see that thing, I would take a reporter along with me, so that he or she can be my eyes. The reporter describes to me what he or she sees. The other aspect which deals with delivering the narrative falls on me. And after writing, I edit. The rule of concord is what any sophomore communication student should know, talk less of someone who has worked in the field for ten years as a reporter and editor. So, it is not in any way difficult.

However he says one challenge he has on the job is that people sometimes want to take advantage of him because he cannot see. “The challenge is the normal challenge that any physically challenged person in any part of the world would face: Abuse. People want to take advantage of you. That is what an average disabled person face. People want to abuse you, they want to disrespect you and say all manner of things because they feel that you should not exist at all, especially of you are competing with them. They feel threatened. How can a blind person be editing?

“People don’t appreciate that your physical challenges does not necessarily have to bring you down, and that you can still do wonderfully well in whatever career you choose. Apart from that, people rarely want to believe you. When you tell them that I can do this or that job, they always have second thoughts about your capability to deliver.”

Ogundare believes that the physically handicapped have been neglected by the government. He wants the Disabled Welfare Bill to be passed. He remarks: “Remember when the president was going to run for election in 2011, the women folks in Nigeria came up with the fact that they have been unequally represented in government. And at the end of the day, when President Goodluck Jonathan came into power, he was quick to appoint a sizeable number of women into his cabinet. I think that the first thing that any sensible government should do for the population of disabled persons in Nigeria is to pass the Disabled Welfare Bill pending before it, so that physically challenged persons in Nigeria would now have a document to demand for their rights, particularly rights of inclusion. They would be able to ask for economic security, political inclusion.

“If you look at statistics, physically challenged persons hardly vote in Nigeria because there is no concerted effort by the government to include them in the process. And this is what we keep talking about. The bill should be passed.”

Also, he talks about his own aspirations. “Personally, what I want, apart from knowing that there is a law that I can run to if my rights are breached, is a chance to teach. I have always liked teaching Mass Communication at a university or polytechnic. I like to teach budding journalists how to write, how to do what I am doing that have won me a lot of awards. So, my most immediate need is getting a scholarship or fellowship that would enable me do an academic masters and a PhD, so that if I decide journalism and teach budding journalists what I have learnt practically on the field.”

Still on the issue of his desire to further his education, Ogundare notes that lack of financial resources is the only stumbling block before him. He explains: “Coping with blindness is very expensive in terms of medicals and your own welfare. By the time you take care of the medicals, and a bit of your own welfare, you realise that you are left with little or nothing to want to do some other things that you would have loved to do, for example: applying for a masters degree in the university. I have an HND in Mass Communication, and the dichotomy in Nigeria is such that an HND student cannot do an academic masters.

“The only university that would allow you do an academic masters in Nigeria is the Pan-African University. And if you are going to go there, you are going to spend about 1.8 million naira. And that means doing a PhD would be much more expensive. That kind of fund is beyond me. I have also tried to apply at the University of Ibadan, but you would need about 350,000 naira to be able to cope with your tuition and materials. And don’t forget that journalism is not a lucrative profession. So, with the little that you earn, ad with all the gamut of demands before you, you find out that you are not able to certain things you would have liked to do. Even still, I have tried to do my masters three times, but had to jettison it because the fund is not just there.”

Ogundare’s blindness is as a result of Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a devastating disease condition of the eyes that inflicts the victims with irreversible blindness. In other words, when the victim loses his sight to glaucoma, he cannot regain it, medically. However, according to Ogundare, there a tree of hope is sprouting.

He says: “Recently, because I have been talking with doctors abroad, I learnt that there is hope for nerve regeneration. The reason why blindness as a result of glaucoma is irreversible is because it does irreversible damages to the retina glandular cells and that is the organ that is responsible for carrying visual information through the optic nerve to the brain. And because they are nerves, they cannot be regenerated. But now, there is hope of regeneration or actual replacement of the optic nerve. That means, for people like me, we can still see if one has the money to go for the treatment. There is hope. And also, every positive person should not overlook the fact that there could be a divine healing for him or her.”

Notwithstanding his blindness, Ogundare is a very busy man. “At the moment I live alone. Usually, I sleep around 1am every day, and I wake up by 6am. By then, I would begin with combing through all manner of news sites to get informed and update myself about the events of the day, locally and internationally. I would comb through Nigerian and foreign radio stations, then I go online and read stories. I normally do that for two hours after my prayer, before I have my bath and come back again to monitor events on radio.

“Don’t forget I am blind, so I don’t watch the television, it watches me. After then I come to the office and meet with my reporters. We discuss story ideas and progress of ongoing stories. We talk, argue, and agree on particular perspectives. I monitor them, don’t forget I am the editor of the magazine. If they are not in the office, I have to keep tabs on wherever they are. I would to that till about 8pm, pack my machine, leave for home, find something to eat and rest before I begin my work. Usually, I take a lot of work home because I have to constantly update them. Then I sleep by 1am again,” he enthuses.

For someone who has had little time to adjust to blindness, Ogundare’s attitude towards life is phenomenal. He laughs when people ask him how he maintains such high spirits. “Except if one is going to commit suicide or do something unthinkable to himself, your attitudinal disposition towards your condition must be positive. It is by so doing that you encourage yourself,” He says.

“Don’t forget that I mentioned that people around you discourage you. People desert you immediately they know your condition. The first thing that I experienced when I lost my sight was that people that thought I was useless; that I cannot be of any use again. As a result, some of my friends and people deserted me. The only thing that can really bolster my confidence is to remain positive and hopeful that despite my condition, I can do anything and everything through Christ who strengthens me.”

Written by Solomon Elusoji, on the Features Desk of ThisDay Newspaper, Nigeria

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