ELECTION PROMISES

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Chief, traditional wedding ceremony, new yam festival, masquerade arena, festival, yam, pit latrine, dowry.


“The most promising governorship candidate in our state is coming to town in a week's time,” Chief Malu announced to his people. He was a thoughtful and democratic chief who always sort the views of his people. “So, I have I summoned this meeting so we can discuss the problems we want the governorship candidate to solve for us now or when he assumes office, if he wants us to vote for him,” he explained further. “So, my people, what are our most pressing needs. We cannot give him our votes for nothing. We don’t see important people of his caliber very often. Our population has grown significantly over time, so he realizes that our votes can make or break him.” There was a moment of silence as his subjects pondered his words. Mr. Kataki looked around the square. Perhaps no one wants to be the first to open the floor, he thought. He was a tall, old, grey-haired man with a lanky physique. Slowly, he rose to his feet with the help of his makeshift walking stick. He had to lean slightly to ease the age-induced pains in his waist.

“Chief Malu, you will live long. It is kind of you to have secured the candidate’s interest in our land. We must make the most of this. I think we should have him solve one major problem for us now that he is not already in government. In my opinion, he should build pit latrine for us,” he said with all seriousness. “But we have more pressing needs,” yelled, Mr. Zumba, a middle-aged man with a stocky build. He was slightly educated. “Shut up Zumba,” Kataki fired back at him. “My pit latrine will soon be full, so I cannot see a more pressing need than that!” “But he cannot build pit latrine for everyone in our town,” Zumba countered. “Then let him build one for everyone who needs it.” “But we need schools for our children,” added Mr. Dambaba. “What school?” Asked Mr. Turake. “Turake, please ask him,” Kataki urged his friend. “Our children are meant for the farm, and not that stupid classroom. I don’t care what you think Zumba, as far as I am concerned, there is no better need in the land than a new pit latrine,” Kataki said conclusively, as he headed slowly back to his seat.

“Enough of this argument over pit latrine. I think a masquerade arena is far more important than pit latrine,” added Mr. Enelonga as he joined the argument. “Our neighboring town, Obazu has a magnificent masquerade arena. During the new yam festival, they have a place to dress up and prepare the masquerades and a vast area for the masquerades to parade while the people of the town watch in awe. My pit latrine will last for another eight years, so if you ask me, a masquerade arena should be at the top of our list.” “What kind of men are these?” Zumba queried painfully. His face had contorted into a deep and tense frown. “Who cares about masquerades?” He added. “I do!” Yelled Okenzu, as he scurried to his feet. He was young; a few years shy of forty five years. He still enjoyed festivities. He played in a drumming group in town, so the idea of a masquerade arena appealed immensely to him. “I agree with Enelonga and Okenzu,” added Madriga. “There you are Zumba. You have your answer. I am sure Madriga and Okenzu speak for our youth. A masquerade arena will bring us together; a place for our young people to dance and enjoy during the festivities,” Enelonga stressed his point.

“How about our roads? Our roads are a death trap!!!” Dambaba shouted in anger, pointing menacingly at Enelonga. “How many of us drive by the way?” Asked Okenzu. “Our feet and bicycles are adept at negotiating our paths and tracks. Who needs tarred roads when we can trek?” Madriga added as the discussion heated up. “I want money for dowry!!!” Sekibo shouted zealously. “I have been contemplating taking another wife, and there is a particular girl I have in my sights. The dowry that her family is asking for is beyond my reach, simply because she has gone to secondary school. I say….the governorship candidate should provide every grown man in our land with dowry.” “Oh my God!!! This is getting even more ludicrous. Sekibo you already have two wives; why would you want to take another one? By the way, the fact that you want a third wife does not mean that every other man wants to marry as well, so why should the governor offer dowry to every man in the land?” Dambaba asked in frustration. “I have not been able to marry at all because of dowry,” Chaka added. “I support Sekibo’s suggestion.” “But the man cannot go about giving us money to take new wives. He wants to know tangible projects he can build for us,” Zumba implored his town’s men. “A new wife…a young and luscious one is my number one project right now. When you see the girl I have in mind…when she walks past you Zumba; you will forget every other project you have in mind,” Sekibo answered. His eyes had lit up with excitement as his hands gesticulated with excitement in describing the new girl of his dreams.

“But you said the same thing when you married Ashaza, your second wife!” Dambaba pointed out. “And I am saying it again!” “Even if you end up saying it ten times Sekibo; so what? Please leave Sekibo alone. I fully support his motion. I need that kind of project too. When I see Bantu walking home from the stream with a pot of water delicately balanced on her head and her waist ‘jangling’ rhythmically like plantain leaves undulating enthusiastically to the tune of atmospheric breeze, I lose my senses. No wonder her parents have placed a price tag on her. If that man wants my vote, I want the value of Bantu’s dowry in my hand…nothing more, nothing less!!!” Chaka declared emphatically. “You have lost your senses indeed, Chaka,” Zumba took a swipe at him. “Thank you Chaka. You have good eyes. I, myself have noticed the undulating strokes behind Bantu when she glides by,” Sekibo remarked, still gesticulating. “Thank you Sekibo for supporting me, but please make sure your support ends here. I don’t want you noticing Bantu’s beauty in that form. Please keep your eyes on Jinde, the woman you have been meaning to marry.” “I was only commending Bantu’s beauty Chaka. You have no need to be afraid, after all, we are not even sure we can convince the man to give us money for dowry.” “Quite frankly, the dowry suggestion is not such a bad idea,” said Ikere. He was an older man in his late sixties.

His hair had all turned grey, and furrows of wrinkles traversed his face. He had two wives, with the younger one in her mid-forties. “You know, I had wanted to marry a third wife but the dowry was way beyond my reach. Nowadays, everyone places a huge price on their daughters. May be there is still hope for me. If the man is willing to offer us money for dowry or pass a law that pegs dowry to an affordable price for every girl in the land, then he has my vote.” Hahaha!!! Even you old Ikere. You are signing your own death warrant. If you marry a young girl at your age, she will destroy you in one week. Better dig your grave now that you still have some life left in you before you ask the politician for dowry money, because if your wish is granted, I will start planning your funeral,” Kamanda said comically. “Don’t let my grey hair fool you Kamanda. I am still as healthy as a stallion. You should ask my second wife,” Ikere retorted. “The other day I was in the bush tapping a palm tree. I overheard Ashaza your second wife talking with her fellow women as they walked home from market. She said you are finished. In fact, when she comes to your hut you start having unexpected and instant malaria out of fear that she might have plans to spend the night in your hut,” Kamanda teased. The crowd laughed boisterously.

“Now let’s put this to a vote,” chief Malu stepped in to end the arguments. “But chief Malu, what are the options for us? Pit latrine, masquerade arena and dowry?” Zumba asked incredulously. “I am only a moderator. If my people want those, I will certainly present them to the politician.” “How about roads, schools and hospitals?” “We will add those to the list before we vote. In the end, we will present the top two options to the politician based on the outcome of the vote.” Chief Malu answered him. “This is ludicrous!” Dambaba said with rage. “Let us vote please. If you want pit latrine, raise your hand,” Malu said, ignoring Dambaba. A few hands sprouted in the air in support of pit latrine. The list went on and so did more fingers. “So, dowry carries the day followed by masquerade arena,” Malu declared at the end of voting. Zumba and Dambaba walked home grumbling and bemoaning the fate of their town.

...

“Dr. Chaminta Nnamide, welcome to our land. We are a united town. We will are thrilled that you chose to visit Ikiriki during your campaign. Without mincing words, here are our conditions. Sekibo, please will you tell him what are needs are, which must be met if we are to cast our votes for him,” Malu ordered. “Mr. Governor to be, you are welcome. You will get the vote of almost every man and woman in this land that has come of age if you; one – provide all the men of this land who have come of age money to offset the cost of dowry. Most of us have been hampered by poverty from taking new wives. Secondly, we would like for you to build us a befitting masquerade arena where our fine masquerades will parade to the relish of our youth during the new yam festival. Those are our prime needs,” Sekibo announced. The men of Ikiriki nodded in agreement except for Zumba and Dambaba who watched in pain. Dambaba gnashed his teeth in agony.

Chaminta Nnamide was surprised…Shocked! He had expected steeper demands from them. He quickly had a chat with his aides who were on hand to work out the number of men in the land who had come of age. This was the simplest demand the rich doctor had been confronted with since his electioneering campaign. His men went to the trunk of an SUV and returned with wads of notes. Sekibo and co salivated at the sight of money. “To demonstrate my seriousness and commitment to Ikiriki, I am offering every grown man in this land, young or old who is old enough to get married the sum of fifteen thousand Shillings,” Nnamide announced, still surprised that they had asked for so little. He was sure to recoup that in a short time in office. He smiled at the prospect of scooping their votes for nothing. “They clapped as they lined up to take their share. Chief Malu received twenty five thousand Shillings. Nnamide promised to build them a masquerade arena that no eye had ever since before, upon assumption of office. Soon, wedding bells were ringing in every nook and cranny of Ikiriki as every man in the land added to their hoard of wives. “I am not sure there will be any girl left in this land in two years’ time when you and I come of age. We will probably have to travel far off to find a girl to marry,” Izunde, a young man pointed out to his friend and age mate Bakindi at one of the numerous wedding ceremonies in town. “Even old Ikere is taking two new wives. This does not mean well for us. Dowries can only rise for you and I,” Bakindi remarked. “Maybe they will all soon die, leaving you and I with a throng of beautiful young widows to cherry-pick from in a few months’ time,” Izunde pointed out on a second thought. “You are right! You are so right, Izunde. Look at Ikere. He looks like he will die tomorrow. With two new young wives, his life can only get shorter,” Bakindi replied as they both laughed while sipping palm wine at Ikere’s second traditional wedding ceremony in as many weeks.

THE END

Written by:
Victor Chinoo


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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: ELECTION PROMISES
ELECTION PROMISES
Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - Chief, traditional wedding ceremony, new yam festival, masquerade arena, festival, yam, pit latrine, dowry.
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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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