INSIDE NIGERIA: The Ripping of Posters (Article-Prose)

Posted: January 12, 2015 in Articles, INSIDE NIGERIA
Tags: , , ,

nigerian-map.jpg

by Okoye Chukwudi Ezeamalukwuo

This useless man everywhere, this useless man again –that must had been her thought as she ripped another poster off the wall, -that or something more sinister, something more derogatory. Who could read the thoughts in her mind, or exorcise the demon that assailed her that morning. I found her action to be somewhat intriguing, somewhat amusing though I did not know what her story was, or the reason why she was standing by the side of the main road, ripping off only the campaign posters of Mr President from the wall.

Perhaps it was the heat. The temperature that morning was over thirty-five degrees centigrade, and was enough to drive anyone off the edge. Perhaps it wasn’t something physical or something that could be easily quantified. It should take more than an increase in temperature for a person to engage in such act of public spectacle -I thought to myself as I sat on a wooden chair of a decrepit bus at Ikeja bus-stop, staring at her. She neither stopped to acknowledge the increasing crowd of onlookers that had gathered around her, watching her work, nor did she pause to wipe off the rivers of sweat that ran across her face and met at her jaw. The posters was all she cared about and she was determined to rip them all off.

Indeed it must be something serious, something much deeper, something indelible like a crack on a mirror or the breaking of a camel’s back that had endured fifty-four rigorous years of marsh and misrule.

Perhaps she was a mother of one of the Chibok girls. Perhaps she had lost someone dear to her in Baga, or in Mubi, or in Gwoza, or to the rising wave of insecurity that had engulfed the nation in recent times. She looked exasperated like someone tormented by an unseen demon. They say: a hungry man is an angry man –perhaps it was just plain hunger, or poverty or the burden of two months unpaid salaries which had been attributed to fall in global oil prices.

The face of Mr President on those posters was wearing a smile that was somehow queer, somehow mischievous, like he was smiling only at her, taunting her, daring her to rage, daring her to rip him off, to vote him out if she can. It must have been so frustrating for her.

A part of me felt sorry for her as she stood there all alone in the sun like a lone soldier staring straight at the nozzles of a thousand enemy rifles. I felt like calling out to her from where I was sitting in the bus. I felt like walking up to her, to ask if all was well, to tell her that it was going to get better, but I didn’t, I couldn’t. The look in her eyes was enough to stop anyone from coming close to her. It was filled with pain and bitterness. It was clear to me that she was ready to fight anyone who tried to stop her. In fact she would have killed Mr President if he was there in person, but since he wasn’t there, she was contented to destroy all his posters, as if doing so would hurt him physically in some unexplainable way.

Nigeria is really a crazy place and it does get to people sometimes, and make them do crazy things. I have seen a well dressed man in suit and tie; fight a bus conductor over ten naira change. I have seen federal legislators jump gate on national television amidst fanfare and solidarity songs. I have seen policemen change their uniforms into civilian clothes in the face of armed robbery attack. Ours is a crazy country, and the people living in it are crazier. It can only take a full-fledged Nigerian to appreciate the force acting on that woman -a wife, a mother, at that very moment.

Sometimes I wish that solutions to Nigerian problems can be as easy as ripping a poster off the wall, so that I can go about tearing down the posters of corruption, tribalism, nepotism and religious intolerance from our land. Alas! This is far from the case. In fact, in our society, the act of ripping campaign posters from walls can constitute both liberal and criminal offences.

I do not condone her action. I think it was crude and barbaric, and to be carried out in such a public manner without fear or shame, set a negative precinct that might have disastrous consequences for us all. Ours is a young democracy, which has witnessed many rapids and cataracts in its 16 years of existence. We do not need this kind of occurrence especially at this time when the nation is tinkering on a knife edge. It is worrying to read on paper about the shooting of APC supporters during a rally in Port-Harcourt, or the burning of PDP campaign buses in Jos. What is more worrying is the huge number of educated Nigerians on both sides of the divide, who cheer at this kind of news, urging the perpetrators to carry on.
Indeed I do not support her action at all, even though I can relate with whatever it was that she was passing through.

Still she continued her work, ripping the posters with one hand and squeezing it with the other hand. The crowds continued to swell. There were nods of approval from some sections, and in other sections there were angry murmurs of discontent. Someone raised a voice to applaud her, another shouted angrily at her to stop. There was a suggestion that she should be forcefully stopped, someone even said that she deserved a beating. The atmosphere was already charged with accusations and counter-accusations, suspense and suspicion. Just then the driver of the bus I was in, started the engine and drove the bus away taking me with him.

Several days have passed since that day but I can’t get the incident off my mind. Right now as I sit at my writing desk, staring at the map of Nigeria on the wall, I still hear clearly the shouting of that day. I still feel the heat, see clearly the woman rip the posters off the wall, and somewhere in my mind, hope for this country is gradually being ripped off as well.

Ezeamalukwuo writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You can reach him on Twitter via @Mr_Charlze

Liberty of Creativity

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Comments
  1. Oyerinde Yisa says:

    Hmmmm… Hope for ds country is gradually ripped off as well.

  2. Noel Ijezie says:

    Charlie nwa!… This is lovely. I wish I experienced it myself, maybe my spirit also could have made connections with her and ascertained the reason why she went all out to correct what she probably saw as a mistake. But “kamjuoo gi” is this fiction or real?

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      Yes my good man. It is 90% truth and 10% fiction. I witnessed a woman ripping only GEJ posters off the wall of a fly over beside Ikeja Bus-stop. She actually fought the guy that stopped her, and refused to hand over the torn posters. It wasn’t a pleasant scene really. It wasn’t at all good.

  3. Fiona says:

    *clearly* not *clearing*

    Having watched this story develop from a judgemental outburst into an almost fully fledged reflective piece, I can say I am personally impressed. I have witnessed the writer tackle the work and the art of writing, of crafting writing. I have fought twenty rounds in a journalist’s boxing ring with our Solar and he has risen victorious for the article is full of empathy, pathos, understanding; it is a snapshot of the nation; it includes all readers without dividing or conquering; and it has done something unique. To identify the unique qualities I would have to read multiple times, but the first reading has been so satisfying that a second and third reading will be no hardship.

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      Yes Lady Fiona, a lot of afterthoughts were given to the incident and a more humane response was deemed to be necessary. I am highly grateful to you for the advice and encouragements you have given me all these while. This one is dedicated to you, for it was you who told me to write about it. Thanks once again

  4. Anene Francis says:

    Great work you’ve done here Solar. I second Lady Fiona’s comment. I saw the precursor of this write up on fb and could not help running away after reading some of the comments (rash conclusions mehn save for a few).
    *clears throat * The act of ripping off people’s posters is definitely wrong but here is another perspective to this article less we may be stuck at pointing fingers only. Many of us have the habit of unduely insulting the person of the president (I do not mean criticism ), other of our leaders and persons that have brought out themselves to contest to lead. I tell you, many of us are as guilty of ripping off posters as that woman in question only now hiding behind the thick curtain of social media. Criticize not insult. Facts not unfounded allegations. God bless Nigeria.

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      Mr Anene when I read articles and comments on Sahara Reporters, Premium Times and on the status of APC supporters, I really fear for what this Nation would become if they finally get the presidency. President Goodluck Jonathan has screwed up big time and he deserved some stick for it, but for someone who want to lead us tomorrow to have no regard and respect for the office and person of the president, and always find faults with the actions of this administration stands logic on its head, and goes a long way of exposing the kind of leader the person will become if given the chance.
      Yes the precursor to this write up was met with enough bashing and counter bashing…I must confess that sometimes anger, together with ethnic, racial and religious bias might creep into some of my write ups especially on FB, but as I wrote somewhere a writer is just someone who picks up a pen and write, a prophet is one who speaks the truth no matter what.

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