The Miraculous Deliverance of Oga Jona: A Reply By Chinonso Madu
Read Chimamanda Adichie’s Article that brought about this reply>>> The Miraculous Deliverance of Oga Jona By Chimamanda Adichie
Her entrance met the vain décor of the presidential villa. The corridor was a marbled thoroughfare; the door to the waiting room a goal post. The room was magnificent, a replica of a byzantine chapel except for the Italian sofas which replaced pews. Ostentation loudly greeted and humbled her admirable class. She looked around in systematic evasion of an embarrassing transfixion. Having wined and dined with President Barak Obama at the White House, she was supposed to be used to such edifices. Again, she was the epitome of fearlessness. But butterflies were gulping her self-confidence. For once in the recent past, she felt as weak as a human being. For sure, that wouldn’t be Miranda. So suddenly “normalcy!” thundered and awakened the ears of her mind, and she turned into her real self forthwith.
“Madame please sit, His Excellency will be with you in a few minutes,” Man Friday politely offered, motioning her to a seat. The sofa was soft to her soft body, but she wouldn’t allow it to soften her mind as well.
“Thank you,” Miranda said as he took his leave.
She had expected the usually long, frustrating wait in the lounges of the high and mighty, but Oga Jona showed up almost immediately, his face resplendently childlike in its penetrating, genuine smile. His manly and noble perfume conveyed somewhat admirable innocence that mirrored a good heart. He was nothing short of a handsome gentleman. Is this actually Oga Jona? Polished, simple, cute: indeed different! That’s Miranda in thought typical of the rapid nature of a lady’s imagination – it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment. “Good afternoon, Your Excellency,” she greeted, standing shyly with a little bow, and extended her tender hand.
“Good afternoon, Miranda. How are you?” The presidential handshake was reassuring, and she was quite happy about it.
“Fine, thank you, sir!”
“Please did the security act impolite towards you?”
“Not at all sir.”
“Good. Congrats on your new book, I have it in my shelf and you know I will read it.” His smile betrayed him and she smiled back, responding, “Definitely, sir.” They almost laughed.
With both seated the reason for the meeting couldn’t but unfold. It seemed closed-door, or rather one-on-one chat. Man Friday maintained a reasonable distance at the corridor. No journalists: no cameras (at least the visible ones).
“Miranda, lately, it’s been Chibok, Chibok, Chibok. It has assumed the status of a matter that gives definition to my success or failure.”
“Sir, Chibok is not a matter, it is THE matter – your refusal to visit it, or rather the cancelled visit, the parents of the girls, The Girl From Pakistan – a young girl: you made her appear more important than 150 million Nigerians, your interviews solely with foreign journalists. Your Excellency, Nigerians are angry. Everybody, except your praise-singers, is very angry with you. Obama would have gone to Chibok the same day. He would have met the parents of the girls immediately instead of blaming others, especially the opposition.” Now Miranda had two crease lines on her forehead. And Oga Jona smiled dryly.
“My dear Miranda, I see your pains, your tears, you feel for the girls and their parents. But for sure, not more than I do. I don’t know how many sleepless nights you’ve had. Well, it’s actually an unfortunate situation. Concerning the visit to Chibok, trust me on this, what an elder sees seated, a child will never see even if he climbs an iroko tree. The courageous young girl visited and we gave her the normal welcome we give to foreigners, heeding her request. No excuses, but Obama avoided coming to Nigeria, so “Obama would have gone to Chibok,” I’m afraid, is lame. No insult intended. In fact, even “lame” as an insult is kind of lame. You advocate “no” to the blame game, but every Nigerian is exculpated except the president. Nigeria’s security situation is peculiar, and a discourse misses the point once it isolates peculiarity. Perhaps I need to explain that there are legislative and judicial arms of government. I’m not a dictator.”
“Sir, your critics need results; Nigerians want something tangible, your plans…”
“Yes, result they will get. The knowledge of the rescue plan for the girls is only for those directly involved in the rescue operation. Certain intelligence is for certain people; certain things are better said in certain ways or not said at all. Again, certain things are better left unsaid. Classified information must always be there. Some pundits are inattentive to eloquent silence. It is difficult not to despair but possible to match forward with hope and purpose. What we are fighting is an aspect of the African predicament that built up with time, a long time at that. Long-term solution is not just key but the only thorough one. Tying slim-feet trousers and an adjusted hat to the solution will only appear silly. We shall bring the girls safely home. Yes, there is God!” Their eyes met agreeably and he continued, “I have a gift for you.” He looked at the corridor and signaled something with his eyes to Man Friday.
“A gift for me?” she queried. I think something is wrong with this man. I’m sure he wouldn’t permit himself that joke. Her thought was rapid as usual, though she kept it to herself. “Yes, Man Friday will see to it before you go.”
“Thank you, sir. But how about preference for foreign media?”
“You want me out of Bayelsa – at the same time I have to pretend Bayelsa TV is better than CNN. It’s a correlate of the claim, ‘I spend most of my time in Nigeria but I eat breakfast, lunch and supper in the U.S.’” Now Oga Jona’s words have begun to irritate Miranda’s ears. “Actually, genius has its limits, unlike stupidity in its limitlessness – it is Einstein’s, not mine.” What the hell is he talking about? She could only talk to herself because her own answers are the only acceptable ones to her. Unruffled, Oga Jona continued, “Believe it or not, folks are free to be stupid, just that some abuse the privilege. Bourdillon fellas rejoice when tragedy visits because it means Oga Jona will at last cower and flee that they may ascend the throne. More casualties, more joy. Incredible!”
“And the election?”
“Winning an election has never been a do or die affair for me let alone now that I’m not sure I’ll even vote myself. My interest is simply who will better the condition of Nigeria and birth her socio-economic salvation. We’ve been inclusive, neither neglecting any part nor marginalizing women. I’m sure you know the primary function of the local governments – it’s rural development. Sharp Woman is doing a tremendous job in finance. The perplexity is only in hens that mistake their eggs as asteroid. Your name came up a few days ago for a ministerial post. They said you’ll never drink as a minister. However, voices echoed that your interest is in the gubernatorial seat. Would you like to clarify this?” Without waiting for her answer – she had none anyway, he continued, “You’d also like to know what I’m doing for the Niger Delta youths. What I’m doing about roads. Isn’t it?” He paused and looked at Miranda’s blank face, his own not losing its smile. She moved her face slightly down without uttering a word. That sufficed for Oga Jona as an affirmative answer. “Well, let me bring your gift before responding to that.” Again, his eyes went to the corridor, and Man Friday understood immediately and hurried away. Oga Jona shook his legs, not to shake off tension but in satisfaction with the concluding meeting. He had stopped talking; Miranda was quiet too.
Soon they heard footsteps from the corridor. Oga Jona’s smiles widened as the footsteps drew nearer. When the figure materialized, Miranda was startled and sprang to her feet.
“Good afternoon, Your Excellency,” he said first and Oga Jona nodded with satisfaction and pride like an agama lizard. Then he turned to Miranda, “Good day young lady.” She tried to respond but could only quiver, mouth wanting in saliva. She was still standing. Oga Jona’s image turned completely grotesque as she tried to wake up from the nightmare.
“That’s your gift Miranda. Now The Man From Lagos, please help me answer her,” Oga Jona said.
“What is the question Your Excellency?”
“She wants to know how I’m fighting youth unemployment in Niger Delta and my statistics of new roads. Please answer her.”
“Job creation in Niger Delta will definitely disfigure their identity. Just as some zones are destined to be leaders and not followers, the Niger Delta people have it as a divine mandate to fabricate humour for the entire nation, comedy enough for exportation. Who are we to use job creation to damage their divine vocation? Are we mates with God?” he almost screamed, even Miranda felt her head shake in response. “Again, why would we keep shoeshiners out of job by building roads?” The Man From Lagos looked at Oga Jona and he nodded – his response was superb. The next moment Miranda realized herself, she was exiting through the corridor. She wished the meeting never held; the presidential villa was actually a terrible place.
“Everyone purports to know what Nigeria needs. I’m beginning to think that what Nigeria actually needs is less people who know what Nigeria needs.” That’s Oga Jona chatting with The Man From Lagos as they gulped their beer.
Chinonso Madu is the winner of the 2009 Italian National Competition on Fairy Tales, Racconta La Tua Favola
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