It was just one of those WhatsApp jokes that have you reeling in laughter even if you were hungry or angry or both. Waffi proverbs, it was titled. Meaning these are sayings in the Warri dialect of the Pidgin English, if there was any such thing. You know how even the most serious issue sounds funny when a Warri person articulates, sir? Oh, I just assume you speak Pidgin English. Even if you don’t, Mr. President, you need to listen to Waffi jokes. They are good for your health, trust me. You need them at least for 30 minutes every day to keep your sanity in the middle of all that is called Nigeria that you are stuck with for the next for years.
Imagine this for instance:
GOAT WEY GET MIND TO FOLLOW LION GO FISH, MAKE E NO SAY WEDA DEM CATCH FISH OR NOT, LION FOOD DON SET.
Do you understand the message, Your Excellency? A goat should not in his wildest imagination think his tribe and that of the lion are equals. One is a prey, the other is a predator. So, even if they go fishing together, and catch no fish, the lion still won’t go to bed hungry. The goat is a ready dinner. Moral of that proverb: a prey is a prey no matter how close he is to a predator.
And another one.
HEAD WEY NO WAN THINK GO CARRY LOAD.
Right, a child who has refused to go to school or learn a trade will end up in the motor park, ferrying the bags and baggage of those who invested in their minds and brain.
After having a good laugh at the 13 proverbs, my eyes cleared and I decided that since I wish you well, I should share my thoughts on the seriousness of the jokes. I apologise that lack of space will not allow me to share all the 13 but I promise to find a way to forward all of them to you.
THIS ONE GOOD, THIS ONE GOOD, NA IM MAKE MAD MAN GATHER PLENTY LOAD.
Sir, there are people who are not too right in the head all over the place, everywhere. They want what they don’t need. They are afflicted by the ‘mad man spirit.’ They want to build and buy houses in every city of the world and they want to do it between now and 2023. The reason they are all over you like bees on honey is because of their severe affliction with this evil affliction.
They will come with all kinds of CVs and proposals. Let me also let you into a secret sir, some of them have gone and done all kinds of rituals to soften your heart towards them. They have bathed naked at the centre of major markets and road junctions. They have incisions that are still fresh under their white caps, made with sharp knives in the dead of the night. Some have even sold houses they inherited to raise bribes to pay people close to you.
I do not envy you, Your Excellency. Thank God you just returned from the holy land, fortified, although I heard some of them followed you there. That’s their stock-in-trade, pretending they simply happen to be in the same city and country you are visiting.
These pests will pester you. Beware. They do not share your vision or passion for anything. They just want to satisfy that mad man demon ravaging their depraved souls. Be careful every minute especially in choosing your cabinet members. Every time you see a mad man or woman on the street, no matter how fast your convoy is travelling, let their ‘jagbajantis’ load: tins of milk, cans of beer, drinks, rags and ropes, bags torn and dirty, let that sight remind you of the above Waffi proverb. It’s not all well-dressed men that are fine upstairs.
DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? DO YOU KNOW WO I AM? NA SO HOLD-UP DEY START.
Your Excellency, the root of this proverb is actually in Lagos. No other city has the Lagos reputation for maddening and inexplicable traffic confusion. One minute everything is moving smoothly and the next a snarl takes over. A car brushes another and the two drivers jump out, take cursory looks at, most of time, mere dents and they start ‘blowing grammar’:
“Are you blind?”
“Who do you think you are talking to?”
“Do you know who I am?”
“I’ll show you who I am”
“I will teach you a lesson today”
“You don’t know who you are messing with?”
Note, these two men are parked right in the middle of the road, rolling up their sleeves, removing their glasses, whipping out their phones to call their contacts in police headquarters , defence headquarters, governor’s office, even Aso Rock. Meanwhile, traffic has built up five kilometres from the point of incident, with other road users sweating, swearing (of course), missing appointments and generally suffering for a sin they know nothing about.
Moral of this proverb? Mr. President, avoid men and women with bloated egos and exaggerated sense of self. Those ones are actually suffering from inferiority complex. They will spend more time and resources on flexing their ‘kwashiorkor’ muscles than on fixing our national problems. They will worry about whether they are minister or minister of state, Director-General or Chairman. They will undermine those working for public good just to show they are ‘something’. For them, public office is not a call to service, it is just food for their sick and really unimportant selves. You do not need them in your cabinet. They are just traffic jam creators and cogs in the wheels of progress.
NA PERSON WEY NEVER SEE PROBLEM DEY USE GOOD ENGLISH DEY PRAY
That may sound funny, Your Excellency, but it is the truth. In the community of Christians, there are churches where members pray like: ‘Daddy, I just wanna thank you, bless you for my new house in Banana Island, my successful trips to the U.S. and South Korea….’ But if the witches of your father’s house are showing up in the afternoon in your office and the demons of your mother’s lineage beat you up badly in your dreams you wake up with marks on your back, you go to a church where they make ‘fall-and-die’ decrees and pray until they are hoarse and drenched in sweat.
And that is where Nigeria is now, Mr. President, in the fall-and-die praying church. Our national situation is bad. All the errors of our past have caught up with us. All the demons of our ancestors’ failing and failures are beating us black and blue day and night. We are bleeding from massive relentless caning. You sir, you cannot pray like our national issues are psychedelic. They are not. We are desperate. Our multi-faceted problems are even more desperate and determined to consume us, obliterate Nigeria from the world map. We can no longer afford to speak English to our national demons. We can no longer face them with speeches, seminars and workshops. We need armoured tanks and sophisticated rocket launchers.
Four years should be enough for our deliverance, sir. Let us find Nigerian solutions to Nigerian problems. China does what works for China. China speaks Chinese to their demons. The Britons are speaking English to their Brexit problems. Why are we pretending that we don’t know what to do? Our national problems are strutting all over the 36 states and FCT, erecting flags of authority and we hide behind archaic laws instead of repealing or amending them. Your Excellency, the way things stand, if you do not complete our national ‘deliverance’ before the end of the second term, PDP will take the trophy for creating wealth, stopping Niger Delta militancy, consolidating banks and making e-banking (ATM and transfers) easy like ‘dodo and eggs’, deregulating telecoms and all the wealth and job creation it brought to Nigerians. Mr. President, let’s have Yoruba and Fulfude services, Hausa and Idoma deliverance services, communion service in Kanuri and Annang. Do what you need to do, otherwise these demons will win and in years to come when someone mentions your name or APC, hmm… I don’t know how to describe in English or even Waffi, the sounds the Yoruba and Igbo make when they think something should not be their portion.
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