WOLE SOYINKA (WS) :I want to rest. Let me sit down
ENA OFUGARA : Yes sir.
(I lead him to his favourite chair in front of the television. Beside the chair are newspaper cuttings of the day he got the Nobel Prize for Literature. He picks up the newspaper gingerly as he always does)
WS: I am the Nobel Laureate. I won it fair and square. Not Chinua Achebe, Not Chinua Achebe. Me, Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka, I am the Nobel Laureate.
ENA OFUGARA: You are sir.
(I take off his shoes and socks which as is usual emits a stench as with all human feet having worn shoes for a long time and I smile thinking to myself how the Nobel Prize does not reduce the smell of a man's stockings
WS: They are all jealous of me...Leopold Sedar Senghor especially. Who is he? I am the Nobel Laureate not he. Is it because Nigerians are stupid and did not elect me their president like Senegal did Leopold? Imagine he ruled them for 20 years and I have not even ruled my local government. Is it not the same poems we both write? Am I not a better poet eh...what is your name?
ENA OFUGARA: Ena sir, Ena Ofugara sir
WS: Am I not a better poet?
ENA OFUGARA: (Thinks of TELEPHONE CONVERSATION and ABIKU by Wole and then of PRAYER OF THE MASKS wherein was written
"In your own image...hear me!
Here dies the Africa of Empires - it is the agony of a ruined
And of Europe to whose navel we are bound.
`Have you not felt the force of my loins, the power of my muscular
I know winter will be illuminated by a long soring day:
That the smell of Earth will intoxicate more than the perfume of
And she will offer firm breasts to tremble under the Conqueror's
caress;' by Sedar Senghor and since I was no saint and I am paid to make him feel good I replied)
You sir. You are the best sir
WS: Then why is he regarded as the best poet from Africa? Why is his Negritude the greatest intellectual movement from Africa? Answer me young man...
WS: Why will Senegalese people vote him as president and he rule them for over twenty years? He spent two years in jail, I spent two years in jail. Is it because his was by Germans during World War 2 and he was bold to shout "Vive Le France Vive Le Africa" even with German guns trained on him? Is it because even after then he continued to be part of the French resistance...after being a prisoner of war? I could have joined the army. I could have.
ENA OFUGARA: Yes you could sir
WS: No. They will beat me too much. I do not have the discipline. I am born to be boss always. I cannot brook competition nor take command.
ENA OFUGARA: No you cannot sir
WS: (Angrily) Are you mad? Are you surreptitiously insinuating that I am not good enough for the army?
ENA OFUGARA: You are sir. More than good enough.
WS: Negritude my foot. Do you know Leopold used voodoo?
ENA OFUGARA: No sir
WS: He does. Someone wanted to shoot him. The perfectly good pistol did not fire. You do not know these francophone Africans. They like juju. It is why I am Ogun worshipper. You need voodoo to write well and survive.
ENA OFUGARA: well...
WS: Well nothing. I am telling you, to succeed you need juju. Do you know how many times I have escaped with juju? I just disappear, dematerialize. Ask Al-Mustapha. I was seeing him, he was not seeing me when Abacha sent him and Rogers to kill me. I was a spirit standing with Ogun looking at them. They say I used a bike to escape. Iro...it is a lie. Ogun took me on his wings and we flew away from Nigeria.
ENA OFUGARA....Indeed sir
(having taken of his shoes and shirt and having changed his diapers, I slide him into a comfortable nightdress and give him a warm glass of milk.)
WS: Chinua Achebe. He ought to be in jail..jail...jail....
ENA OFUGARA: em...he is dead sir
WS: Jail I said. What did he mean by THINGS FALL APART? That is treason. Chinua Achebe is guilty of treasonable felony. He always wanted Nigeria to break up. It is why he wrote THINGS FALL APART.
ENA OFUGARA. But sir, that was written many years before the civil war sir...published two years before Independence so it could have been written many years before
WS: And so? Does that make him the father of African Literature? Okay, so I cannot write a novel so??? I am the Nobel Leaureate. I have the award right there on that wall see! These Ibos think they can tell a story don't they? Chukwuemeka Ike and his Toads For Supper and Potters Wheel. So what if he is even more humorous than me... young man, is he more humorous than me?
ENA OFUGARA: Who sir?
WS: Chukwuemeka Ike.
ENA OFUGARA: (I think of Soyinka's attempt at humour with Lakunle's half-baked grandiloquent English....a mainstay of comedy and too cliched and I think of Chukwuemeka Potters Wheel and how the protagonist's guardian used to sign his signature on sliced yam so nobody can cut from it and I smile to myself. I dare not tell him that POTTER'S WHEEL is the funniest book ever written by a Nigerian. NO. The Prof thinks himself very humorous and I must humour him) Sir, Brother Jero had a very funny trial sir.
WS: What trial?
ENA OFUGARA: Trials of brother Jero.
WS: Did he have a trial?
ENA OFUGARA: Sir, come to the room sir. Maybe you need to sleep sir.
WS: You think I do not know my books are unreadable by the masses? You are the masses. I see it your eyes. You do not have the intelligence to grasp my meanings?
ENA OFUGARA: Exactly sir. I am the masses sir. I do not sir
WS: So you mean you have never read what I wrote?
ENA OFUGARA: I have sir. We were force...sorry made to sir. As texts for JSS 3.
WS: Which book?
ENA OFUGARA: Lion and the Jewel Sir, then in the University, trials of Brother Jero sir
WS: They call me KONGI and everytime I ask anyone about KONGI, none can tell me who he is. That is a great play. It was even made into a movie in New York. You see when he told his officers to wear trraditional African dresses as uniform....
ENA OFUGARA em...y..yes...yes
WS (stops and asks looking at me for the first time) what happened after that?
ENA OFUGARA em....em...
WS: You hippopotamus and Manatee from the Niger Delta. You Papy wata. So you have not read KONGI's HARVEST?
ENA OFUGARA...No sir. I am sorry sir
WOLE SOYINKA: Sorry? That is preposterous. You are nothing but a harebrained, rattlebrained, scatterbrained, nincompoop
ENA OFUGARA. Yes sir, It is even written like that on my birth certificate as my description sir.
WS: (Pauses. Speaks slowly. I almost feel sorry for him) So you haven't read KONGI's HARVEST?
ENA OFUGARA No sir
ENA OFUGARA: No sir
WS: THE BEATIFICATION OF THE AREA BOY.... You must have read that because you look like one
ENA OFUGARA: No sir I have not sir
WS: (pleadingly) KING BAABU?
ENA OFUGARA: King who sir?
WS: Okay okay YOU MUST SET FORTH AT DAWN
ENA OFUGARA: No sir. My shift ends by 9 a.m sir. I cannot set forth before then
WS: You moronic, fatuous, imbecilic, inane retard. SET FORTH AT DAWN is a book I wrote.
ENA OFUGARA I am sorry sir.
WS. You cannot have read ISARA
ENA OFUGARA: Akara? I have eaten it I say as I put his food before him which he does not even acknowledge)
WS: How old are you? So you haven't read OPEN SORE OF A CONTINENT or the sequel THE BURDEN OF MEMORY, MUSE OF FORGIVENESS? These are books as late as 2012
ENA OFUGARA: I will try sir
WS: I hate you. I hate all of you illiterates just like the First Lady Patience Janathan. You are all illiterates.
ENA OFUGARA: I can read sir and she can read as well. that is literate NO?
WS: She is a shepopotamus. She is a... hmmmm. They say because I insulted her, I am a misogynist. Let them prove it. You prove it
ENA OFUGARA: Nobody can sir, after all you have had three women as wife. Nobody who hates women will marry so many sir
WS: Good boy! They say because I called my mother "a wild Christian" so what if I call her wild? Does that mean I hate her? Don't you call your mother wild?
ENA OFUGARA: No sir
WS: And because I turned my back on her religion. How many people follow their mother's religion?
ENA OFUGARA: 99 percent of people sir
WS: So that makes me a misogynist? That I must have hated my mother deep down?
ENA OFUGARA: You tell me sir.
WS: So it is because of her that I formed a group that did not include women PYRATES? Don't you know that pirates of old believed that with women on board a ship it is bad luck?
ENA OFUGARA: Really?
WS: Yes. Women are bad luck. I have had my share of them. I KNOW
ENA OFUGARA: oh wow...
WS: They are mere domestic appendages. It is why they cannot be PYRATES and when I formed the Federal Road Safety Commision, I reduced their membership to the barest minimum
ENA OFUGARA: Wow
WS: Yes! Can you imagine me, Nobel Laureate waiting while the First Lady's motorcade passed through a street in Port Harcourt. Imagine that
ENA OFUGARA: When Michelle Obama the First Lady passes a street in the US, they also block traffic for her sir
WS: Rubbish Rubbish Rubbish. Only men should have sirens
ENA OFUGARA: And when a woman becomes president of the US like Hilary Clinton, should she have sirens and should roads be blocked for her?
WS: You are a fool young man a foooool. a dim-witted ludicruous fool.
ENA OFUGARA: yes sir
WS: Look at my works, when have I made a woman lead character? Are they not included as tools of erection as in Trials of Brother Jero and Lion and The Jewel? In Kongi, did I not make a slut of a woman who slept with two opposing men? Do not I make a woman always between two men as reason for a fight?
ENA OFUGARA: Is that what you are doing with Amaechi and GEJ Nigeria's president?
WS: There is hope for your cerebrum as yet young man, hope! It is always about the women...every crisis. It was Miriam Babangida that made them remove Ukiwe. I also fought Yar"Adua's wife for GEJ to enter. Women are trouble-makers...domestic appendages to be called to order. ordaz is ordaz.
ENA OFUGARA: I hear you sir.
WS: So when I call her shepopotamus, she should be glad a Nobel Laureate is calling her that.
ENA OFUGARA: I am sure she is very happy sir. Her husband too
WS..eh...her husband...iliterate marryer.... eh..em...em
ENA OFUGARA: What sir (I lead him to the bedroom and lay him under the covers.)
WS: I have a young wife like Ojukwu did. Ojukwu made sure the president GEJ took care of Bianca so she knows not hunger. Do you think GEJ will take care of my wife after I am gone?
ENA OFUGARA: You just called his wife a shepopotamus.
WS: ahhh Muse of Forgiveness. Amaechi has to be president or vice. He will take care of them for me. He will make her an ambassador too. He takes care of me through the Book Fairs. He will take care of my famly when I am gone.
ENA OFUGARA: If he wins sir. The incumbent looks set to retain his position sir. He is closing his ranks and settling with OBJ and Babangida and all others.
WS:Haaaa. I have to insult him and his wife some more then. she is a ...a....
(he doses off for a bit and stirs) Chinua Achebe...Chinua Achebe..You have read all his books haven't you?
ENA OFUGARA: Not all sir but THINGS FALL APART, ARROW OF GOD, MAN OF THE PEOPLE, NO LONGER AT EASE, ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH and even now his THERE WAS A COUNTRY.
WS: How does he do it? Be so readable? Everywhere I go it is THERE WAS A COUNTRY. Nobody talks about my books
ENA OFUGARA: Sorry sir
WS: I am more popular abroad than in my own country
ENA OFUGARA: You are popular here too as Chinua is popular abroad.
WS: Chinua is not the Father of African Literature. He is not. I am the Nobel laureate....I am...I beat Chinua ...I won...I won..... Chinua Achebe, Patience, Patience Patience, Chinua..... (he dozes off with the names of
Patience and Chinua Achebe on his lips)
ENA OFUGARA (And I add the final blanket over him as he falls asleep and I say a prayer for this LEGEND) As he lays down to sleep, I pray you Lord, the soul of the "great one, the top dog to keep"
The phone on his mantelpiece rings and as I rush to stop the ringing, I find I awake to my phone alarm ringing. I realize only then that I was only dreaming. The whole Soyinka/PGEJ imbroglio was getting to me. I must detox.