Wednesday, July 06, 2016

King Kunta

Hola peeps.

It’s 2:52am on 6th July and cannot sleep. Tomorrow, well, today really, is a public holiday to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Yesterday (Wednesday) was initially set to be a holiday, got a news circular and everything, only for moi to get up and find it had been rescinded overnight. Juba of things?

Just occurred to me today’s also Feyi Fasan’s birthday. She was my first ever crush in Primary 5 and recall visiting her crib in Festac for a birthday party, and catching Rocky IV and The Karate Kid while waiting on driver to pick my bro Ayo and I up. Fast forward a few years, I cannot remember how we re-connected, but met up for drinks in London and ‘Feyi’ was now ‘Faye’. Didn’t matter as it was just great to see her. Weirdest of weirdest thangs, some months afterwards I step up to some Asian girl at a club in Leeds who I later found out was Faye’s closest pal in uni. We ended up dating for a while and she was very sweet. Now why am I telling you all this? Haven’t the foggiest idea. Woke up three days ago with a sore neck and the pain’s been affecting my thought process ever since.

Don’t matter if today’s a public holiday though, as I am still gonna be busy working. Had heard whispers last week about public holidays being held on Thursday and Friday, and, as such, booked a ticket to Kigali as some mates were going. Since it’s too late to cancel plane tix, I gotta take that time off vacation allotment. Well, never been to Kigali so it should be an experience.

Speaking of experiences, Black Damme realized last week Tuesday that everything in one’s head, every preconceived idea of what one would do in a situation, disappears at the sight of a gun. No roundhouse kick, no saving the damsel in distress, no smart-alecky one-liners, no……wait, there could be cheeky one-liners, but those would only be played in one’s head, no way one would think to blurt that out.

Recall that Arrested Development song, Everyday People? There is a line there, my day was going great and my soul was at ease…..well, that’s what I felt like on Tuesday. I had returned from work, where everyone commented on my snazzy new blazer, and tried to take a dump. Since I moved to apartment, I hadn’t spent much time in it, before travelling to Nigeria for work, thus didn’t realize issues I had raised a fortnight before were not fixed. One of them was the bog. Since return, I insisted they resolve the fault, and while about to take a dump, the plumber walked in – I coulda sworn I locked the door – so had to halt business for him to do the needful. Decided then to go say hi to folks I hadn’t seen in a while ghost plumber – he musta walked through walls ‘cos I am sure I locked door – did his thing.

First stop was kickboxing coach, where I told him I’d be primed to resume classes over the weekend. Next trip was to former abode where I spent almost 12 months of my life in Juba. Man, I felt like a celebrity. All that was left to do was sign autographs ‘cos of all the love that was in the air. Ladies at reception were all smiles, waiters and waitresses in the restaurant gave me hugs, guys working out in the gym talked about how they had missed me, in short, my day was going great and my soul was at ease.

After hotel I stopped by to see another mate and caught up on goings on in Juba since I left. Leaving mate’s I decided to try out a new route home. Why? Well, it was 830pm, so wasn’t so late as to be dangerous, and I was still buzzing from all the love I had received earlier…plus, I was bedizened in my GQ blazer. Hate to admit it also, but I tend to get an adrenaline rush from seeing how long I can hold poop for. Was hoping by taking a new, hopefully circuitous route, by the time I returned home there would just be enough time left for a mad dash up to apartment to test the skills of (Casper the Friendly Ghost) plumber.

A minute into new route I noticed a soldier pointing a gun at me so I slow down and dim the headlights. Another walks from back of car to passenger side and I wind down. Dude asks why I didn’t stop when he beckoned – he didn’t use the word ‘beckon’ – at me. Told him I didn’t see him, and during the back and forth, I was asked to alight – he didn’t use the word ‘alight’ – from the vehicle.

Recall last blog where I told of peeps getting robbed by security personnel, well, I thought this was what was happening to me, and like a true Nigerian the following thoughts quickly went through my head: Tunde, think back. Did you sin a few minutes earlier? No. THINK BACK! Why did you take this route? Was it so you could go do something seedy? No. So it’s just a mistake, right? And if you get killed you feel you would be in right standing with God? Yup. Okay then, I am satisfied. Let the robbery commence…

I get out of the car and the following conversation ensues with dude I shall call Captain Phillips just ‘cos like in the Tom Hanks-starrer of the same name, he was the only pirate that spoke English.

CP: UNINTELLIGIBLE WORDS IN ARABIC.
Tunde: Sorry, I don’t understand you.
CP: HOW COME I STOP YOU AND YOU NO STOP?
Tunde: I apologize, I didn’t see you. I don’t know this route. I usually take the route back there.
CP: SO YOU SPEEDING ON A ROAD YOU DO NOT KNOW. WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
Tunde (*wishing he had a recording device so he could capture discourse accurately for blog, then later, wondering why he isn’t scared, if it’s normal to think of blogging when soldiers have weapons pointed at one*): Going home. Just off that major road.
CP: DRIVING AROUND THIS LATE? DON’T YOU REALIZE THERE IS CURFEW? WHO SENT YOU? BETTER TELL ME WHAT YOU HAVE ON YOU NOW BEFORE I FIND ANYTHING.
Tunde: Sir, I just took wrong route. I apologize. You can search my car, you will see I have nothing on me.

Captain Phillips and his crew insist I sit on the ground, even with my dapper blazer, and start searching car for “guns”. All the while my heart’s beating like crazy, yet, strangely, I am not freaking out. What is wrong with you, Tunde? Normal people panic at times like these. You do know abs don’t stop bullets, right?

Oh yes, apart from feeling bulletproof, another thing I have noticed since I started kickboxing classes is I randomly hit hard surfaces with clenched right fist just ‘cos…just ‘cos. Maybe I am testing my pain threshold, maybe I am too wussy to engage in a kickboxing sparring session so this is a way of enacting my will against the big, bad, immovable wall that won’t hit back, or maybe it’s a cri de coeur against the spate of oil on head. More on that later…

Nah, let’s just get it over with: For the past few months I have noticed increased oil on scalp, so much so I can start a business from oil generated on head if I chose to! No one believes I don’t intentionally oil scalp. Even Googled oily scalp and only info I got was directed at women!
I have always had an oily scalp, but this is ridiculous. ‘Cos of oily scalp, I get oily face, and with Juba heat I am getting noticeably darker. Is oily scalp a way of fat leaving body ‘cos of all the cardio I am doing? Or could it be nature’s way of ‘evolution’ so darker-hued skin allows me blend in more easily in Juba? Who knows, okay back to our regularly scheduled blog story….


Captain Phillips returns to me.
CP: WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Tunde: Nigeria.
CP: WHERE IS YOUR PASSPORT?
Tunde: At home, I don’t move around with it.
CP: WHERE IS YOUR IDENTITY?! MY SKIN IS BLACK SO ANYONE SEE ME WILL SAY I AM SUDANESE, BUT HOW CAN BE SURE I AM SUDANESE?
Tunde (*erm, shouldn’t this dude say South Sudanese? I best not correct him. Maybe it’s like one of those instances where black folk can use the N-word freely, but get upset when a white person says it*): Let me take out my work permit, you can see my name and nationality there.
CP:  RUBBISH! WHERE IS YOUR IDENTITY?!
Tunde: I don’t know what else to tell you. Here is my business card too. I work for Maersk Shipping.
Talk about a 4th wall, hey? Wink, wink.
CP: SO YOU ARE THE PEOPLE THAT COME HERE AND TAKE OUR JOBS? HOW MANY SUDANESE DO YOU KNOW WORK IN NIGERIA?
Tunde (*wondering if Capt Phillips followed the Brexit debate*): Erm, sir, we are a pretty large country and there is a good chance there are some SOUTH Sudanese working there.

Nice one, dude, for not falling into the S-word trap….come to think of it, if South Sudan ever decided to leave the East Africa Community, would there be a snazzy rubric like B-R-E-X-I-T? How about S-S-E-X-I-T? Hmm, would the first ‘s’ be silent, or maybe the second one? What if the chief proponent of the movement is dyslexic and ends up placing one of the ‘s’s between the ‘i’ and the ‘t’?

CP: YOU THINK BECAUSE YOU ARE NIGERIAN YOU CAN WALK AROUND HERE WITH SHOULDERS HELD HIGH? LET ME TELL YOU, WE SUDANESE DO NOT FEAR ANYONE. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY RESOURCES WE HAVE?
Tunde (*can we just get this over with the robbery please?*): No.
CP: My job is to search car for guns and I have done it. Now what do you have for these people?
Tunde (*here we go….*): Sir, you have seen my wallet, this pittance is all I have on me.
CP: YOU LIE! YOU HAVE MONEY!
Tunde: No sir, I don’t. You have searched my car and my person. Truly, this is all I have on me.

One of the other soldiers shouts something in Arabic that I don’t understand.
CP: YOU LIE DOWN.
Tunde: Pardon?
CP: LIE DOWN NOW!

This 40 year old executive of a company in a foreign country proceeds to lie down on the floor, yup, even with blazer, and gets hit circa 10x on his bum and back of thighs with a long whip, causing welts that hurt to some degree over a week later.
Woah, I am getting whipped for doing nothing wrong. Hey, this doesn’t hurt as much as I expected, maybe my kickboxing training is yielding dividends after all….wait, nope, it’s starting to hurt now. Darn it. This dude had better stop soon else I will be forced to get up. Father Lord, please help me forgive them for these acts. Wait, am I turning into Stephen the martyr now? Speaking of which, if this dude keeps this up I might be forced to change name from Tunde to Toby or Kunta Kinte or any Dinka name he prefers. Man, this hurts….

CP: GET UP! NOW LET ME SEE WALLET AGAIN. I KNOW YOU HAVE MONEY.
Tunde (*in full Kunta Kinte mode now*): No, massa, I is only got money I showed you earlier.
CP: GIVE THEM THE MONEY. NOW WHAT ELSE CAN YOU GIVE THEM? SHOULD I GIVE THEM YOUR PHONE?
Tunde (*oh, I am supposed to believe it’s only them that want the phone, huh?*): Sure. Can I take out my SIM cards first?

Captain Phillips and the crew converse in Arabic and surprisingly, he hands phone back to me.
CP: LISTEN HERE, I CAN SHOOT YOU HERE AND NOTHING WILL HAPPEN. I AM ONLY LETTING YOU GO BECAUSE YOU WORK FOR MARSK SHIPPING. NEXT TIME I SEE YOU AROUND HERE YOU WILL LOSE YOUR LIFE.
Tunde: Sure. I apologize again.

I get in my car and take the original route I was meant to take home. All the while I have a smirk on my face, wondering how to succinctly relay this adventure to folks on my phone messaging services. Got home, went to the loo, sent out message to peeps, realized toilet was now working, and smiled to myself. Good ol’ Casper….

Based on similar incidents that have happened to other mates in Juba I had it pretty easy. Sorta helps being the shortest man in Juba as my fancy jacket was not “obtained” off me, since it would not fit anyone. Yeah, the welts hurt, but I found the funny side of things, and actually prayed for God to help me forgive them.

The next morning, I inform the only other non-South Sudanese at the office what happened, and she proceeds to shed tears. I couldn’t understand why she’s being so emotional, and it was not until sometime past noon the extent of what occurred actually hit me. Folk in my shoes have been killed for less in Juba! If I relayed what happened to my company HQ in Nigeria, I would be mandated to get on the next flight out. Before I moved to Juba, we weren’t sure of the security situation so plan was for me to work outta Entebbe and fly to Juba for meetings; I am sure they’d insist on implementing that if they got wind of what happened.

Two days later, in the wee hours of the morning, I was woken up by an exchange of gun fire that lasted about 30 mins. Yup, it was definitely time to effect that Uganda relocation plan going. Also didn’t help that mate’s favorite cousin, who was in the security services, was gunned down around the same time I heard the gun shots. No one is quite sure what occurred to him, but heard he lived close to my new crib so maybe gunfire I heard was related to his death.

I walked out of apartment when sun came out, and security guard acted normal. The gun shot? “Yeah, happened down the road. Heard it could be some guy whose car was being jacked.” Could not believe how casual he was being. Almost considered moving back to hotel (where I am loved) until Caucasian neighbours walked outta their apartments and went on about their business as if nada happened. That’s when I decided to stay put. Yes, they have early curfews, but if these kawajas can cope in Juba, then Jeanclaudevandamnit, so can I. Ain’t no ass whupping gonna drive me away. I moved all the way from Lagos to make a success of this startup. I ain’t going diddly.

Forgot to mention that one of the reasons I stopped at the hotel before the Captain Phillips incident was to hand out flyers for a kickboxing tourney. The winner would be flown to Nigeria to compete against the Nigerian kickboxing champion. In all honesty, I was ambivalent about which country I would support in such a tourney, but after the, ahem, encounter, last Tuesday, all I can say is Go Nigeria, Go!


Tot ziens and God bless.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Fan82 said...

As if this could be enough gist.....

Good try... still want more

3:58 AM  

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