When his first daughter Aisha wedded several years ago, I was not officially invited. And why should I? Of Nigeria’s journalism ‘who’s who?’ I probably would not even make the first hundred. But guess what, I attended all the same. Uninvited. But I was an attendee of necessity. Because two of my mentors, former Concord Editor’s Duro Onabule and the Paper’s erstwhile Head of Northern Operations, Olu Akerele, were in Minna for the wedding. And I had to be on hand in my little home-forte to play side-host to my professional seniors. They both dragged me to the grand reception which took place on the grounds of the now elite El-Amin International School -established by the matriarch of the immediate family herself, late Maryam of blessed memory.
And you bet truly ‘grand’ was the ‘grand reception’! Everyone who should be there was there: the high and the mighty, the rich and the powerful. Men of ‘timber’ and ‘caliber’, ‘mahogany’ and ‘iroko’. And my presence, by the way, was proof also that many other ‘woods’ of baser quality that should not have been there, were also there. The hoi polloi. Us.
But when the last daughter, Halima was to wed recently, from out of the blues I was now officially invited. The IBBs ‘cordially’ requested the pleasure of my ‘low-ly’ presence to ‘grace’ the occasion. About a week to the wedding, Olu Akerele had phoned to say that my invitation card and his were ready ‘Up-Hill’ and that it was my lot –since I was already in Minna- to go ‘up’ there and pick them. I did. And there was my name, ‘Mohammed Adamu’, etched in excellent calligraphics. It had taken over ten years, since Aisha’s wedding, for me to gravitate to the elite (though not monied) club of the IBB ‘inviteables’. Isn’t that wonderful?
But guess what, now that I was invited, I did not attend. But don’t get me wrong, I was an absentee of necessity; like I was once an ‘attendee of necessity’. Because this time, some other visiting mentors and friends of mine, who I should be attending in company of, had decided only to pop into Minna, move straight Up-Hill to ‘show face’ and then left. A few passed by my house to say hello. I know many, including some of the very ‘high and mighty’ who did not even wait for the essential event, namely the ‘Fatiha’, much less the ‘Reception’, before they left town. And you wondered what was it that had suddenly changed, from when Aisha wedded? Is it the times, or the people?
And sometimes that is just the problem with the weddings, especially of the ‘insanely rich’ and the ‘superbly powerful’. Like a gathering of giraffes, they tend always to attract too many tall egos, that end up neck-sizing as they compete for the skies. And no matter how long-necked or short-necked they come, in events like that, every giraffe is bound to meet its match, or even its better. And so, sometimes those who can’t humbly hang their low necks beneath the shadows of longer ones, simply come early, brandish their ‘impala necks’ to be sure they are not counted ‘absent’, and then run. Or as the Yorubas would say, tuule!
You thought you were a ‘supper giraffe’, with a ‘long neck’; and you had put most of your ‘Security Vote’ to your long, enviable ‘convoy’. And in fact on the way to the event your ‘convoy’ may have out-convoyed, out-siren-ed and out-sped other convoys; yet on arrival you couldn’t make it to any of the first five seats on the right or left sides of IBB. Hell, you were not even on the high table. That is if you were not battling for a foot-hold in the ‘crowd’. That is the way that kind of cookie crumbles!
Sometimes it is better you pop in, pay homage to the big man, tactfully drift away and leave, rather than melt into the pool of puny, little ‘irokos’ that cannot even secure a seat. I mean ‘any’ seat here! Some smart alecs would’ve dispatched their protocol two to three days in advance, to feel the texture of the impending line-up. And if possible to negotiate a dignified ‘placing’. Or else they would send a representative. Or they may gamble and come in the hope for example that the Senate President did not attend; or that the Speaker only sent in a representative; or that Tinubu was not in good enough terms with the IBBs to attend.
The fewer the juggernauts in attendance, the more the chances that even ordinary ‘nauts’ will be elevated to ‘jugger’ status. Shining at such events is more a function of who and who have decided to come, or who have decided to send RSVPs, than it is of who comes first or early enough. Sometimes your ‘eminent’ cooperation could be ‘reverently’ sought to leave a particular seat because a taller giraffe has decided to make it to the event after all.
I looked at my neck recently in the mirror; and I was wondering what the IBBs saw, to send me an IV. It is ‘thick’ though, but certainly not ‘long’!
BUT THIS TO HALIMA
Even as I wish you conjugal bliss, I should repeat this which I wrote in a tribute dedicated to your late mother; that “Life is not the ‘worldly Eden’ we think it is; it is Shakespeare’s “walking shadow”; that it is not as they say, a “sweet composition”, but rather Wilson Mizner’s “tough proposition”; it is not Elbert Hubbard’s “one damn thing after another”, but rather Edna Millay’s “one damn thing over and over.” Life is not our breakfast table of licks and ‘yums’, but William Gilbert’s “pudding full of plums”; it is not a “voyage to an unknown destination” but Herman Melvilles journey “that’s homeward bound”. Life is not measured “by the wine drunk” as Harriet King would say, “but by the wine poured forth”; it is not measured by how long we live, but how well; not by what we like to do, but by liking that which we have to do.”
Now you are married. Do your duty.
JET OR NO JET…
I thought that what is odd in the life of the ‘rich and powerful’ is NOT that they are engaged, almost always, in merry-making. Because that in effect is what the ‘rich and powerful’ always do. That cannot be odd! What is odd is the ‘rich and powerful’ not merry-making; or when -God forbid- they mourn; those very rare moments when the ‘rich and powerful’ are tribulated, by one misfortune or another. That is what is odd. Because then the merry-making has to pause. But in relation to how regularly the ‘rich and powerful’ make merry, such mournful moments happen very seldomly. It must be the reason the saying is coined ‘The rich also cry’; to remind the ‘poor’ that the rich do not always ‘laugh’, after all.
And I thought that what happened in Minna was supposed to be the norm among the ‘rich and powerful’, and not the exception. It is foolish that the poor should grieve some more (by the anger that greeted Minna) merely because the rich do what they always do, namely make merry. The rich also wed, remember?. Or don’t they? And why should they regulate the number, or the caliber of those they ask to come and merry with them? Or why should those invited not go as they please: by road, sea or air? Besides, if they had gone by ‘foot’ would that have alleviated our situation? Or would that have belied the fact that they own jets?
We have issues with some ‘looters’ who bought jets with our patrimony. Let’s deal with that! But while we are at it, let the ‘rich and powerful’ fly as they wish. And if it hurts, lets support EFCC to bring them to book! I don’t get it, we applaud judges who set ‘looters’ free, we applaud lawmakers who will not clear the ‘bulldog’ to go after ‘looters’; and then we pillory IBB for daring to wed his daughter. Because he gave ‘looters’ an opportunity to brandish their ‘loot’. We cannot eat our cake and then have it!