By Abdul Mahmud
Boma Erekosima was a delight in his heyday. Humorous and affable in his on-air presentation, he made my generation’s early enjoyment of the Frequency Modulation (FM) Radio pleasurable. 1981 announced the birth of state government-owned Radio Rivers 2 FM Stereo. Governor Melford Obiene Okilo’s Rivers pioneered the ownership, birthing the flourish: of the belief that infotainment was possible through musical entertainment mediums, of the notion that the governed could be reached through music, of the idea that the real could be encountered with on-air personalities, and of stories whose truths lay in the wisecracks and the comical representation of the everyday life through the airwaves. I think that is what has endeared Okilo, and for good measure too, Boma Erekosima, to many of my generation for many years.
Christmas brought the best out of Boma Erekosima.
On air, he was Ali Baba and Osuofia rolled into one. Sadly, he departed this part of the human shores a long time ago, leaving behind memories of his repertoire of comical gestures, memories of his laconicism, memories of stories that were nuanced by the dialects of his listeners, memories of the beatific sides of on-air personalities he helped to create and, finally, the beautiful memories of Christmas.
As a young boy in the middle classes of secondary school, it was from Boma Erekosima I first learned that ‘scape goat’ could be constructed for Christmas in order to constitute the very essence of the twenty-fifth day of December. In his flawless PITAKWA pidgin, he always sang about chickens that pleaded their innocence to sharpened knives on Christmas mornings. “Today na Christmas Day, I can see the fowls. Don’t kill the fowl; but kill the goat and kill the cow and kill tolotolo”, Boma Erekosima sang to the joy and laughter of his many listeners. May God bless his soul.
Today is Christmas.
Christians the world over are celebrating one of the most important feasts in Christendom. They are marking the birth of Jesus Christ.
Everywhere Christians rekindle the hope of eternal salvation of mankind by celebrating the essences of Christmas: of dedicating selves to Christ The Redeemer, of giving and sharing love and of showing compassion for the poor, for those in whose name the Spirit of the Lord eternally possesses and anoints Christ, so they can receive the good news his birth brings to them and to mankind.
I am sitting here, peering through the lenses of Boma Erekosima into this Christmas Day. I am visualizing the Chickens of the World pleading their innocence in front of sharpened knives. There is this image of a chicken in my mind’s eye screaming, “Today na Christmas, don’t kill me; kill the goat…and kill tolotolo”.
Christians take today as a day of joy.
Discerning Boma Erekosima’s Christmas Day song, it does appear to me that in the fabled world of the chickens, Christmas is taken as a day of misfortune. The goat is sadly singled out as the scape-goat, as the cause of the Christmas misfortune of the bird. The process of unnatural selection proceeds in earnest everywhere: I see strong goats, silent before their slaughterers, being led to the slaughter. The reprieve for the weak isn’t permanent. They do not open their mouths to bleat. They can’t even bleat for joy because they know their Christmases of death will come in another year or two. Where are the chickens?
I think they are all now united by death in the stew pots of the world!
December arrived with the excitement of a child that helps a goat to the slaughter by pulling the goat and its leash behind his own fragile frame. This excitement is more exciting than excitement. Pardon the alliteration!
December arrived with the idea of purifying our nation by ridding it of the many goats that feasted on our yam barns for many years. The idea that a goat can be delivered from its own demon, yam, that a goat can be punished for each yam it steals and eats, and its second nature negated by finding its crime and serving it punishment through the instrumentality of law and justice, is what is ‘Degoatification’.
So December arrived with President Buhari setting much store by our jail houses. President Buhari means business. His Excellency truly means business.
If you don’t read the nature of his business well, you would think of it as the YEZHOVSHCHINA- the great Stalinist purge, the clearing out of the un-ideological dregs of the revolution and the decimation of anti-Stalinists. A deeper reading may reflect a certain closeness to Yeltsin’s fight against corruption.
Unlike Yeltsin’s that produced Aleksandr Rutskoy, our Rutskoy has not appeared just yet.
Rutskoy, appointed by Yeltsin to head the Russian anti-corruption committee, took the anti-corruption fight to Yeltsin, his corrupt friends and political associates. The relationship between Yeltsin and Rutskoy didn’t last. Late 1992, they accused each other of being corrupt and travelled their different political ways. The possibility that a Rutskoy will appear in the mould of Ibrahim Magu is a distant prospect. I won’t rule out the possibility of it happening here, though.
‘Degoatification’ is President Buhari’s stock. It is growing on the shelf. The business is growing by leaps and bounds. ‘Degoatification’ is not your familiar dairy practice of tethering goats to milk stands while your gentle hands milk the swollen mounds, neither is it a procession nor the shepherding of goats into greener pastures beyond The River Jordan.
Justice makes the law looks good. ‘Degoatification’ is the journey to Golgotha – the journey through the hallowed chambers of justice, where each goat is presumed innocent by law and each goat renders its pleas of guilty and not guilty – is the shepherding of goats between the devil amongst those defence lawyers who are ever eager to slice off a piece of our stolen yams and the deep blue sea of the prison yards where angry warders routinely koboko backsides in the name rehabilitation.
To read Buhari’s business well is to read this meaning into this new verb, ‘Degoatification’: the purification of those who are conceived as yam-eaters and who are eventually found guilty by our courts for stealing yams from our barns of harvest. It is that moment when a goat loses its ‘GOATRITUDE’!
Today, the harsh economic conditions our country is experiencing have forced a moratorium on the slaughter of chickens on my household. Don’t remind me of the price of a goat! It long flew through our roofs. What about you? No matter your condition right now, please, hold on to the salvation the birth of Christ promises all Christians. Let faith be “the substance of things hoped for”, the assurance of that for which you hope, the sum of the conviction of the good life that will come next Christmas. Just hold on, please!
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