By Bola Bolawole
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By now the two friends had found their way out of the bowels of Unity Enjoyment Palace. They stood at the decrepit balcony as it drizzled outside. If they dare, they risk getting wet before getting to the bus stop nearby. At that moment an Army truck came in sight, rocking here and thither as it negotiated its way through the craters on the road. At a point it made as if it would tumble but the driver’s dexterity saved the day and, as if in celebration, he accelerated; his human cargo rocking here and there.
“Reckless driver” mumbled one of the friends.
“Terrible road”, replied the other. “And this is supposed to be a major city, not a jungle”
“It was in times past that you differentiated between cities and jungles. These days, the difference is no longer clear”
“And they continue to scream ‘Eko o ni ba’je o!”
“It is a mere slogan meant to deceive the unwary. Cold comfort is all they give. Sheer propaganda! Lagos is not getting better; instead, it is getting worse. By every definition, Lagos is a glorified slum”
“And things may keep getting worse. The rural-urban drift has turned virtually all of Lagos, except Banana Island for now, into a massive ghetto. The population surge will forever make nonsense of any infrastructural development that Lagos on its own can ever muster”
“That’s elementary Economics of demand and supply! Demand far outstrips supply in Lagos. “Omi po ju oka lo” But why is the Federal Government not giving Lagos a helping hand? They promised to do so when moving the capital to Abuja”
“Who is holding their feet to the fire? Lagos politicians are more interested in milking Lagos than in growing her into the modern megacity that they only talk glibly about”
“The influx of vagrants from the North has further compounded the city’s woes”
“Wait for it! That’s a time bomb that is ticking. And the vagrants are not only from the North; they are from everywhere”
“If that bomb explodes before 2023, what happens?”
“Many will ‘contest’ that election on their hospital beds! An uncountable number will vote with their feet. Some will be ‘sworn in’ as governor and honourable in their graves while some will be inaugurated president or VP in hell!”
“It’s scary! Why they are playing the ostrich instead of acting to pre-empt the looming cataclysm surprises me”
“The fate of each and every one of them is sealed! What is written, is written. As the French will say, Qui sera, sera. What will be, will be! No sinner will go unpunished. Pray that we don’t have a part in the horrendous punishment that Karma had already packaged for those who, for decades, made this country look big for nothing”
“Amen! I know the ‘big for nothing’ quotation came from Nzeogwu, one of the leaders of Nigeria’s first military coup, but who is Karma?”
“The Law of Karma says if you do evil; expect to reap evil in return. It’s like Isaac Newton’s Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction”
“In other words, ‘Gbogbo awon t’o n fi buredi ko wa l’obe je’ in Lagos will not go unpunished…”
“Not only in Lagos but also everywhere else: The brazen, the sly, the arrogant, the audacious, the greedy and gluttonous, the wicked and pernicious; those who think they are smart or wise – none of them will escape Karma”
“I love Karma, then. He is a man after my heart. Or is he a woman?
“I wouldn’t know but does it really matter? But pray that the righteous do not partake in the looming punishment with the wicked”
“Karma should sift the wheat from the chaff! Why should the righteous suffer double jeopardy?”
“Unfortunately, that is life! The mysteries of life are beyond human comprehension; so pray you don’t enter the same boat with Jonah”
He made for his Bible again, flipped through the pages and then looked up, pensive. “Fate is beyond human understanding. Even when it opens before us, we can hardly decode it. Sometimes it is read unto us; yet, hearing we do not hear, seeing we do not see, and receiving we do not comprehend”
“Stop speaking in coded language…”
“Life itself is a coded language! In the Book of Fate, do you think it is all 11 that died in that plane crash that were meant to?”
“Which crash… The one in which the COAS…?
“Yes! Not everyone who went to the market on that day ended up in the same boat going to Tarshish with Jonah…”
“Can we call that Fate? The unfortunate men who ended in the same boat with Jonah lost all their wares for no fault of theirs. May we not end up in the same boat or anything else with Jonah!”
“Amen! But they could have lost their lives as well! Fate is the development of events outside a person’s control and which is regarded as pre-determined by a supernatural power. Destiny, which is similar, is defined as events that will necessarily happen to a person in the future…”
“It means, then, that the capacity of man to control Fate or Destiny is limited”
“But it does appear as if that capacity is not totally non-existent in all instances. Man himself is three dimensional; consisting of body, soul, and spirit. The spirit of man operates in the supernatural realm and receives stimuli from supernatural powers or forces. Man is not totally cut off from the supernatural and is also not totally incapacitated before such forces”
“All the same, some vital information or happenings in the supernatural realm may still elude man, no matter how spiritually sensitive he may be. Man is finite whereas Destiny or Fate is infinite. Once Fate or Destiny determines; there is nothing any man can do”
“But what when the supernatural attributes of man catch a glimpse of Fate or Destiny, do you still call that Destiny or Fate when it still happens?”
“Sure, because if the event is not destined to happen, man will act on revelations but where there are revelations and man still fails to act, know that Fate or Destiny is at play”
By this time the drizzles had graduated into a downpour and floods of water roared into the nearby canal. At about this time last year when two children of the same parents hurrying to school got washed into that canal, the whole community was thrown into a mournful mood. Only after that was a barricade erected to prevent a recurrence. With the craters on the road now submerged by the flood, it had become impossible for motorists or pedestrians to dodge the craters, except those familiar with the road.
“Aah, owo moto yen ti ya!” one of the friends screamed. The ball joint of a Toyota Corolla pulled out right in the middle of the road. The driver, holed up in his car, fiddled with his phone, possibly trying to contact his mechanic. He must act fast or else, with the rains and the obstruction his broken down car will cause, the traffic on this road will be something else.
“We should have left when the rain was still drizzling but now it’s raining cats and dogs. Is that Fate or Destiny?”
“It is neither! It’s our decision or indecision. Sometimes that is what people attribute to Fate or Destiny”
“Still, if it is not Destiny or Fate, the person concerned will not be led in that direction”
“The way you are talking, man will no longer be allowed control or responsibility over his own actions. Determinism can be taken too far”
“Pardon me! I was alarmed when I read statements credited to one of the dead officers that over his dead body will some state agitators achieve their goal. Could that have been the reason…”
“Perish such thoughts! The man, if ever he said so, was only demonstrating his patriotic zeal. That said, we must learn to bridle our tongue. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)”
“That’s true! I remember many years back another big man who said someone would only become governor of a South-west state over his dead body. He died in a car accident soon afterwards and the other man went ahead to become governor…”
“Such statements, boasts or sarcasms belong in the realm of gods. Take, for instance, the oral history regarding the founding of Dahomey (now the Republic of Benin); a lesser chief, Dakodonu, requested for more land from a higher chief, Dan, to which Dan responded sarcastically: Should I open my belly and build you a house in it?’ Dakodonu responded by killing Dan, opened his belly and laid the foundation of his new palace therein; hence the name Dahomey”
“So we must watch what we say! But I noticed something: No Igbo officer died in the crash. The greatest losers were the Yoruba. They lost at least five officers”
“Every disappointment is a blessing! Can we say it is because the Igbo were marginalized that they escaped losing anyone in that crash?”
“I also noticed another thing: A top-notch Yoruba Oba issued a statement mourning the death of the officers…”
“Many Obas have lost touch with the customs and traditions of their own people. Obas don’t mourn in Yoruba land; that is why they are not even allowed to see corpses…”
At that point the rains stopped abruptly as if by divine command. The friends embraced, said some quick parting words and went off in different directions! (Now concluded).
Bolawole, a former deputy editor-in-chief of Punch sent this piece from Lagos