Friendly War

FIRST HALF

Here I am, Sir Skido (Kisco to friends) of the flabby lower lip fame, an extremely capable electrician and electric generator for hire quasi-magnate. I furiously fan myself with the now crumpled match programme at the liberty stadium, Ibadan . Trying in vain to generate some “local breeze” around my sweaty neck. See my trouble! That nice cloud, that heavenly umbrella, drifted away leaving us naked to the scorching, brain baking sun.

Thank God, the uncomplaining match programme also doubles up as an umbrella. Sadly “local breeze” ceases. I feel guilty being here. We (the Ajegunle branch of the Lagos Association of electric generator owners, L.A.E.G.O) hired a luxurious (Ekene Dili Chukwu) bus from Iddo terminus for this match.

Early this morning as I draped myself in my green white green replica kit, original Nike for that matter, and began to pack my trumpet, Shekere, whistle and Gangan (talking drum), that wife of mine began to abuse me.

She claimed I hadn’t given her “chop money” for the week .I know you don’t believe her. Ah –ah, even the neighbors comment on how much fresher she looks while I continue to lose weight. Then next minute I was accused of throwing good money away in the name of patriotism. In fact she said I was a tribalist who only got on with his countrymen on match days. All this at the top of her voice. As the watching crowd increased so did her strength.

With tears in her eyes she told of how the children dress in rags while their father patrols from one stadium to another. To save face I emptied my pockets for her and could only shake my head as she promptly stuffed the cash into her brassiere. But did the abuse stop?

I wish. Do you know I was almost left behind by the bus at Iddo? Were it that I held the money for tickets in my capacity as the Vice president and acting treasurer of our association they would surely have hit the Lagos-Ibadan express way without yours’ truly.

You need to have witnessed the relief on their faces when I arrived. Some even hailed me wildly by my other nickname “Ajegunle jejune !” I felt so proud. Anyway back to the present. Guilt is a bad thing, a big weight on the soul. But sha, kick-off will cure all problems.

By the way sef, way should I feel guilty eh? Ah-ah, I don’t smoke, drink or womanize. Am I not entitled to some pleasure in this life? Wetin? After all, I wore torn clothes till the ripe old age of seventeen and even the socks I have on presently have holes. And did you know there are many advantages in kids having well ventilated clothes in a hot country?

Please spare me those looks. If the children and their mother are not satisfied with how I can afford to clothe them, too bad!

Ah, kick -off is imminent. Now don’t repeat this to anyone but I hear the referee on duty tonight has a certain reputation and to add alligator pepper to pepper- soup, if you get my meaning, rumour has it that someone slipped a brown envelope under his hotel room door last night. They even went as far as saying he charges in Dollars. Ten for Yellows, twenty for Reds, forty for penalties and sixty for a watertight offside trap. It’s only a friendly so who cares ? Let me not tell a lie, I care well well.

The Nigerian Super Eagles versus the Ghanaian Black stars is like the clash of two elephants and as we say in our village, it is the ground that suffers when juggernauts collide. The rivalry extends back a few years.

Sorry to bring up the dead at this point but my late father use to say ‘he who sees fight and picks race shall live to fight tomorrow’. I didn’t believe it at the time being young and ignorant but his words came back to haunt me in this very stadium today.

As I queued for the tickets, the Ghanaian supporter in front of me, clad in his “Yellow fever” replica kit, was arguing heatedly with the stadium attendant about something to do with money when he suddenly spun round and said to me “brotha, if it is one fifty Naira to da pound and eight thousand Cedis to the pound, how much my gate fee in Cedis?

I was dumbfounded.

I broke out in a sweat. In fact I nearly soil my underwear! I broke out in tears remembering all those times I played truant during mathematics classes at school. I am now useless in mental arithmetic as a result. My father’s face flashed before my mind’s eye wearing that “I told you so” expression of his. I wailed even louder.

“Leave this craze man out of this matter Ojare, and for the last time we accept only Naira and hard currency!” shouted the stadium attendant before sucking his teeth and slamming the shutters down heavily with all the force he could muster.

Na wa. But come to think of it, this term “hard currency” sef ,don’t you think it presumptuous ? Is the Naira soft or water water like my mother in law’s eba, eh? (Please don’t tell my wife I said that. I wan live long). Or is the Cedis gelatinous?

So what is it that makes Pound sterling and Dollars strong like Iroko for bush eh? For the amount of suffer I endure to obtain this Naira, I put it to you that in my own books o, Naira is the strongest currency of all. (Everyone with the one wey concern am).

This Naira sef, who name am. And who attended the naming ceremony? Who broke the Kola? Was it the oldest man in Nigeria? I think not. My guess would be some big man tanked up with Odeku at the scrabble table took the G and E out of NIGERIA and the rest was history.

Anyway we must move on.

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