By Tunde Odesola
Laughter is restorative, so is crying. It’s even beneficial when both are done simultaneously, scientists say. According to them, the same part of the brain, the hypothalamus, controls both laughter and crying.
Laughter and crying are warm and cold springs issuing from different aquifers but ending up in the same confluence, like the Ikogosi warm springs.
A Yale University psychologist, Dr Oriana R Aragon, recently led a research study, which discovered that humans cry when they laugh so hard because the body is trying to regulate itself in response to strong emotions.
Well, if you want to laugh so hard and cry, I recommend this particular skit for you. And, if you don’t laugh and cry after watching the skit, just pack your bag and baggage, get an omolanke (wooden cart), and head back to your village.
Here’s the skit’s storyline: Accosted on the street, a well-dressed, clean-shaven and serious-looking Nigerian was asked what the full meaning of CV is.
The bespectacled, middle-aged man, who appears knowledgeable and very confident, looked intently at the lady that asked the question, and said authoritatively, “‘Cee Vee: ‘C-e-r-t-i-f-i-c-a-t-e!’ (he pauses, then lets out a long whistle like a kettle, and without saying what ‘Vee’ means, he asks the interviewer in a dodgy Americanna tone), ‘you gerrit?’ Then he throws the bomb: ‘If you don’t gerrit, forget about it!’”
I can’t stop laughing whenever I watch the skit. I can’t stop the tears, too. It’s just too funny to me – the telling contrast between knowledge and ignorance, hope and despair, promise and failure, confidence and timidity – all rolled up in that funny fellow, whose action teaches a lesson that says appearances can be far away from reality.
I’m also wowed by the spontaneity of the skit which masked the fact that it was unrehearsed, leaving the watcher on the cliffhanger of excellent humour.
Because the Igbo, in the world Chinua Achebe created in Things Fall Apart, say proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten, I shall use proverbs to draw some inferences on the public presentation of My Participations, an autobiography of Chief Bisi Akande, a former governor of Osun State.
Ti a ba nsu’kun, a ma nri’ran is a Yoruba proverb which means ‘the eyes see while crying’. The descendants of Oduduwa also have another proverb that says, agba kii nwa loja, ki ori omo tuntun wo; meaning: elders shouldn’t watch while things go awry.
When eminent national leaders, including the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), converged on Victoria Island, Lagos, last Thursday, for Akande’s book launch, many truths were left unsaid.
At the book launch, Buhari, whose military regime jailed Akande for 44 years in 1984, described the Ila Orangun-born octogenarian as a man of ‘inflexible integrity’. If Akande was honest and reliable as Buhari averred, why then was he jailed for corruption by the Buhari regime 37 years ago? Or, did the Agodi Prisons, Ibadan, change Akande from an alleged thief to a saint overnight? Or, was Buhari’s regime simply what it was – fascist, corrupt and self-serving?
Speaking at the colourful event, Akande spun a euphemism while lamenting the President’s disconnection from the people. He said, “I am only uncomfortable that each time my President is travelling here, he is always in a hurry. He is our President, he is one of us. We always want him to relax and come and stay with us; you know, eat our dinner with us, let our children eat with him, touch his clothes, and let him know that we love him.
“But his handlers never recognise that he is no longer growing younger. They march him; they think he is still a soldier. They march him from the Naval Yard to Eko Hotel, marching him to Abuja, and that is the way they will march him throughout today, throughout tomorrow.”
What a way to call a spade a spoon! Only an idiot won’t realise he’s being marched up and down, zombielike. No aide can march Buhari up and down without his blessing. Buhari’s abandonment of the South-West that gave him the presidency twice leaves so much unspoken about gratitude. Baba Akande should just have simply urged the President to improve his relationship with the South-West, instead of laying the blame on his handlers, who are themselves under the authority of Buhari. Or, is Baba Akande artfully warning Nigerians that the tail is now wagging the dog?
When the Yoruba demand discretion, they say: obe kii mi ni ikun agba, meaning: the elderly should tread with caution. They also say, san lanrin, aje ni nmu’ni pekero, urging for a spade to be called a spade. And they add, ti iro ba lo logun odun, ooto yio le ba lojo kan – meaning: if a lie runs for 20 years, truth will catch up with it in a day.
As a distinguished son of Oduduwa and leader of the Yoruba, I expect Baba Akande, at 82 years of age, to find an ingenious way to publicly tell Baba Buhari to do something about the way Nigerian children are being slaughtered daily across the country just the same way he told former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Chief Olu Falae his mind in his 557-page book. More so, the Yoruba say, ko si iku ti o pa agba, ti a o ni ba poolo ori e – meaning: the elderly must always be resolute.
Akande’s lamentation over Buhari’s disconnection from the masses echoes the disenchantment of Nigerians against their President who has, in just six years, travelled abroad 130 times, spending 308 days in 36 different countries.
It’s shocking that the nation’s political elite, especially Yoruba political leaders, including Akande and presidential hopeful, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, sat lavishly inside the luxury of Eko Hotels, Lagos, without giving a word of comfort to the families whose eight kids lost their lives inside a vehicle in Lagos last week, nor publicly commiserate with the families of the school pupils killed by a truck in the Ojodu area of Lagos.
In the same Lagos, where Nigeria’s political heavyweights made merry with Akande, the death of a student of Dowen College, Lekki, Sylvester Oromoni, in the hands of school bullies had gone viral, a big reason why the political gathering at Eko Hotel should’ve, at least, symbolically honoured all the children who died recently in Lagos and beyond, with a minute silence – if leadership in Nigeria had a meaning.
I’m sufficiently embarrassed that the deaths of so many children in Lagos couldn’t move Buhari to visit Lagos but Akande’s life stories that touch the heart could.
The way a country treats her most vulnerable – children, elderly, the sick and women – reflects the level of her development. It’s obvious that Nigeria doesn’t care about what happens to her adults as reflected in government’s silence over the killing field Nigeria has turned into.
Only four days ago, 23 people were killed by bandits in Sokoto even as the traditional ruler of Atta town in the Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, Eze Edwin Azike, who had also been kidnapped by gunmen four days ago, was found dead the following day. The ghost of a student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Timothy Adegoke, killed gruesomely at Hilton Hotel, Ile-Ife, is still restless.
It’s clear to the All Progressives Congress leadership that killers stalk every Nigerian street, and nowhere is safe, but to gather in Lagos, and not mention the killings in the land because you’re protected by soldiers and policemen is wrong.
If given the chance to speak at the book launch, Nigerian youths, as exemplified in the fatal Lekki toll gate peaceful protest, would’ve urged Baba Akande to soro soke (speak up) instead of speaking tongue in cheek.
At 82, I pray the smile on Baba Akande’s face won’t fade, I pray his laughter won’t cease, I pray that My Participations won’t be his last book. Long may you live, baba Biodun.