• Dami Afam Ade-Odiachi

Thoughts about a Nigerian former Minister

I suppose if I met her, being a well mannered, easy going man, with fantastic “home training”, I wouldn’t bring up the corruption thing. I’d call her madam, or auntie, or former minister or… something, it would be something... certainly not her first name. If I called her by her first name, she’d whisper to the walls that I was rude, and the walls in Lagos have ears. Everything that’s said about you gets back to you eventually. If she was particularly vexed… (and it’s likely that she would be, many Nigerians her age are so lacking in self worth that they can rely on the world to give it to them. They would entertain the company of a cockroach if it was a skilled ass kisser)... If she was particularly vexed, she’d call a tangential relation, an actual aunt, an actual uncle, someone… who’d inform me of my bad behaviour.

I don’t think she’d call my parents. If she called my mother, I’m quite sure my mum would say, “My son was born with a rather Western disposition, his greeting of choice is hello not good morning mah, or sah, or honourable. If you felt disrespected, it’s probably because old women are generally uneasy when dry bones are mentioned. God bless you.”

And if she called my father, he’d say, “My son is a genius, and geniuses are as geniuses are. Also why are you calling me about this? My time is money, and instructing my son on the matters of your address sounds like work. I suppose it wouldn’t look too good if I took money from you all things considered, but money is money, and this Chairman intends to retire well. I’ll send you an invoice.”

It doesn’t matter particularly how you hear of the words said to the grape vine, it only matters that you do - eventually, inevitably, find out. I’d take the note on the chin, maybe with the aid of some gin, without once complaining or saying, “I was as polite as can be expected. I didn’t once call her thief, queen of graft, destroyer of Nigerian destinies, or anything she’s actually deserving of hearing." This is good Nigerian home training. I extend the courtesy to all my problematic uncles and aunties.

Anyway, I wonder how that former minister is doing? Is she well? Did she beat cancer? I suppose all must be well. She’s somehow managed to become a sort of ambassador for the Dominican Republic and according to my father, diplomats live pretty sweet lives. Just the other day, he said to me: “Afam, the son who inherited my receding hairline, and male pattern baldness, you know I love and support you with the blog and all your creative proclivities, but won’t you consider becoming a diplomat? They die of gout, the disease of excessive enjoyment. That’s not a bad way to die is it?” I suppose he’s right, but I’d really rather not die at all. The man’s turned quite morbid this year. I can’t blame him, every other day there’s news of someone’s unfortunate demise.

I wonder how her family members are doing too. At the moment, her surname can’t be the best surname to have. I think it must only slightly better than Abacha. I wonder how they dodge questions about the allegations of million dollar fraud. It should be quite the feat. I think they’re well though… With enough money free money, even social exclusion is tolerable.

Happy Days,


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