If Nigeria were a movie, it would be the strangest tale ever told. It would be rated 18 but will be premiered for a cross-section of toddlers. It would be a thriller, a romance spiced with horror plus an uncanny doze of fairytale. It would be both a comedy and a tragedy. It will invoke such strong emotions that you would be forced to cry in the middle of a smile. It would tell the story of deferred dreams and wilted wishes.
The director need not be creative, witty, healthy or even sane. His crew must be from the elite tribe of the barren-brained and for his cast, anyone with a proven capacity for self-immolation would do. The location would reflect another aspect of the oddities that would mark the film out for potential awards. The story would find locale in slums besides skyscrapers. Tested felons would manage the production budget, its all right, as long as the bounty is shared on the principle of federal character skewed two notches up north.
If Nigeria were a movie, it would be the best story ever told. It would evoke the imageries of misery, of stillborn dreams, of a pelting march towards a damning fate. Beyond that, it will tell the tale of uncommon resilience, of ruthless hope, of forbearance in the deepest slough of misery. It would also tell the tale of a people pushed to the wall and yet seeking to break the wall to keep on running.
The plot would be woven with such pulsating intricacy that it would read like the story began by a skilled raconteur but hijacked midway by a mad man. It will begin with so much promise but midway sail adrift like a rudderless ship in the open sea. You will swear obscenities at the writer.
You would wonder how a man went from crafting a masterpiece to scrawling a puerile doodle. Just when the story is beginning to rise to crescendo, how can the writer suffer a paralysis of will? Perhaps, he had a drink or two, and you would blame it on Guinness. You would agree with your grandfather, who, when inebriated with palm wine, diagnosed the problem of the world to be wine, weed and women.
If Nigeria were a movie, believe me, it will also be the saddest tale ever told. It will chronicle the life of a people with an amazing capacity for self-destruct. First, the montage will establish the scene of a marriage of strangers, forced in a union against their will by a clan of marauding messiahs. From the first scene, you would see valiant efforts by the couple to drive each other mad. It would be such a dysfunctional family that Fuji House of Commotion would be a child’s play in terms of chaos. The family album will fool you because in their smile, you would see traces of treachery. What they proclaim as peace is but a menacing calm.
You are justifiably outraged, you pull your chair closer and the grin on your face dissolves into a frown. Why share a roof when both of you live like familiar strangers, you scream. They are conjoined twins, the story goes, and they share every other thing but the same heart. You are embarrassed by the scene of a people marching bravely towards their doom. You wonder, how can a man pilfer his own inheritance? How can the child of a king beg for alms in the city square?
While the wife accuses the husband of stealing from the soup pot, the man looks beggarly as a skeleton primped for biology practical. Where the hell did he keep all the food? You scream. Why is everyone walking about with nameless fury? Why does mass hysteria follow every attempt at logical reasoning? Just what does the writer set out to prove? You grab the movie jacket and read the synopsis again just to be sure it is the right movie. It is the same title, the storyline appear the same but how come the plot thickens into an orderly muddle. This is the tipping point, the very spot; you conclude that the writer’s reason began to plateau for it is an aberration for a man to invite his kin to a duel.
Just when you are making up your mind about the story, it takes a riveting twist. Vampires suddenly emerge from covens deep in the earth, with blood in their eyes. With messianic demeanour, they mete out justice on the men who were ogling at their sisters. Abomination they scream, as they slash and slay and pull down the houses of the depraved men. But alas, you watch in dumb horror as the emergency redeemers began raping their own mothers. Soon, they shed their garb in pretentious penitence and everyone happily suffer deliberate amnesia.
What is our film industry turning into these days, you rage with righteous indignation. What are the guys at the Censors Board doing? Why is nobody censoring the movies any more? Why should civilised people pay to watch such a scurrilous tale? And then it hits you, it’s a reality show. What manner of a land is this, you ask, a land so rich, yet so poor, because her leaders love her so dearly, as dearly as Americans love turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.