People say they enjoy my stories because they think they are fantastic as in they are fabu or fantafabulous. The notion that I am an African who first saw a lion in Washington DC seems incongruous with the facts as established by those who would rather I tell a certain kind of story. I have pointedly refused to write about anything else but my joyful existence from birth in the 70’s in a well-equipped hospital somewhere in Lekki (sadly now the site of KFC!) to my triumphant life of lush mediocrity in the suburbs of my country America.
My lack of deep personal grinding African pain has been a thorn in the flesh of my aspirations to be immersed in riches. Without some intervention, I am not going to make money from my writing. I have no deep thoughts, I have nothing to write ala Chinua Achebe or Wole Soyinka or Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. No one has ever arrested me for anything, I am not that important. When I went to Nigeria last year hoping to drum up traffic for my Facebook account, I wore a big teeshirt that wailed, “I AM IKHIDE! ACTIVIST! ARREST ME ABEG!”
Why did I do this? You know, if you are an African intellectual, and you have not been arrested by power-hungry, drunken soldiers in Africa, the white man does not buy your books. Unless you are Chimamanda. Of course. Who would want to arrest her? Her wahala plenty abeg. So, I got out of the plane, wearing my teeshirt and a big grin hoping to be arrested so that I would return to America and sign a big advance for a book. Yes, I will write a book if the price is right! Money na hand, back na ground! Who nor like better ting?) Well, no one arrested me. I was devastated. I already had the tweet typed. “SMH! I have been arrested! @usmc @toluogunlesi @omjuwa @renoomokri @abati1999 @doyinokupe! RT and share with oyinbo abeg!” @usmc is the twitter handle of the US marines. They will come and spring me from Kirikiri.
Sadly I was not arrested by the racist SSS. Nope, could you believe bad belle SSS were asking me stupid things like: #OgaAtTheTop! Correct Oga! Wetin you carry? Anything for the boys?” Why are our people like this? Na my turn form five dey wear knicker! I remember how Alagba Soyinka got the Nobel Prize. He was arrested by the great General Yakubu Gowon who seized his famous Blackberry that he used to write his great plays and jailed him in a toilet filled with toilet paper. Starved of alcohol and women, sense returned to Oga Kongi and he began to write things that make sense to mere mortals. He wrote The Man Died in that latrine filled with toilet paper, a seminal novel that earned him the Nobel Prize. He wrote all of it on toilet paper, making the case that the book is not dead. I was prepared to write my own book, The Man Cried. Because wo, I don’t like suffering, I would have cried in the toilet until the marines came to rescue me. Their tweet handle is. @usmc! I copied them on my e gba mi tweet!
Even my good friend Okey Ndibe goes home regularly to be arrested. It has been good for his business. As soon as he lands Lagos like this, he tweets me thusly, “Fellow elder @ikhide! I don land Lagos! I have alerted SSS! I am about to be arrested! Please RT” I always do the needful! His books have sold in the millions thanks to these arrests. I am not accusing anybody of anything sha but I have heard that Okey’s uncle is the head of SSS. So, he does not have to bribe anyone to get arrested in order to sell his books. When next I am going home I will go deliver a bottle of Bordeaux and barbecued leg of American deer to Okey’s Uncle. And some Ben Gay for his arthritis, He turns 85 this year. Nice man.