Nice Costume!

by Sola Osofisan

That’s a lovely costume!

What is?

What you’re wearing.

You’re calling my favorite buba and sokoto a costume?

Is that what it’s called in Africa?

Don’t start that again –

Did you watch Survivor Africa last night?

No. I don’t watch it.

Well, you should. They’re talking about Africa – your country.

Hello. Am I speaking egun or what? Get something straight. Africa is thrice the size of the United States. It is a continent, my continent, not my country. Nigeria is a country, my country. South Africa is a country. Africa…that’s a continent. There’s a difference.

What’s igun?

Egun, not igun. A language.

You speak igun?

Why do I bother to explain anything to you. You never listen to me, do you? Shows like Survivor reinforce this insulting misconception of Africa. The same way you think all of Australia is like Walkabout Creek in Crocodile Dundee. America created Hollywood. Can’t you distinguish between reality and your own creative emissions?

I find Survivor very interesting.

And you have a right to. But don’t share that sort of enjoyment with someone like me. What are they surviving in that false jungle? Let them come to Lagos State in Nigeria for a day – what am I saying? I give them five hours. Let them come and survive one night of NEPA. The Molue. Oshodi Oke. Survivors? I laugh!

You’re exasperated.

No, I’m upset!

No, you are exasperated.

What, you’re going to teach me English now? You think I can’t differentiate between the two? You want to tell me how I feel?

Jeeze, aren’t we touchy today? If I didn’t know you so well…Did I tell you a yorba chief defrauded my friend last year –

A yorba chief? Oh, you mean yoruba?

Yes. Worked at the Nigerian Presidency.

Is that what he told you?


This chief…

Not me, my friend –

And you believed him?

Why do you keep making it sound like I did it. This happened to my friend, not me.

It’s just something we do back home when we find ourselves stuck in a sticky situation and we have to tell the story. We attribute it to another. Is that what you’re doing?

No. It really happened to my friend. Now, why don’t you just shut up and listen.

What else did the chief tell him?

Well, he said your president who died –

Abacha –

That’s the one. He said Aba-cha had some money stashed away someplace and a corrupt government official was trying to get to it and they needed a trusted foreign account to hide the money in until the heat subsided. He was going to give my friend 10% of the money if he allowed them to transfer it temporarily into his account until they figured out what to do.

10% of how much?


Nigerian currency? Naira?

Hell, no! Dollars? Real money Sa-la!

And what did you…your friend, what did he do?

He was tempted of course. He agreed.

And he got the money?

No, they asked him to send them some money to pay off some trouble-makers at the Nigerian Central Bank.

You mean bribe some people.

Yeah, whatever.

How much did he send them?

He closed his 401k.

How much did that come to?

Not sure. They never got back to him. The poor guy had a cardiac arrest. He was a chief…a yorba chief.


Do you know him…the chief?

Why do you think I would?

You’re from the same country.

Ah, so you know everyone in America?


I know a chief or two.

And you don’t know the chief?

Should I?

Well, he shouldn’t make the mistake of coming to America. My friend will waste him or something. He’s that desperate.

People shouldn’t try to reap where they did not sow.

Don’t get biblical on me, Sa-la. Your chief had not right sending a fraudulent email offer to my friend.

Oh, he got the invitation via the Internet?


Text or html?

Why should that matter?

It wasn’t even encrypted or something? Like posting an ad in the NY Times? Maybe we really should stop talking about this.

I really like that Bubba?

Buba. Bu – as in book. Ba as in band.

Booba and shok – I don’t care what it’s called. I love it.

See this? You wear it on top of the Buba and Sokoto. We call it agbada. When I wear it, I look like a million dollars.

No, Sa-la. You like like you’re wearing a parachute. You keep that. The bu and sho thing is all I want. I think it’s a beautiful costume.

I tell you it isn’t a costume. What do you think I am? Fred Astaire? Do I look like I work in a circus?

Come on, Sa-la, who dresses like that?

The Yoruba people of Nigeria in West Africa – in Africa.

Do you have it in small sizes? It will be perfect for halloween.

Tell me you’re joking.

No, I’m not. My son will freak out if he could go out on Halloween as the wild man from Africa.

Wild man? I don’t believe this. Do you know what this is made out of? The finest Aso-Oke in Ijebu-Ijesha! You want to go around begging for sweet in my bottom portmanteau?

What in the world did you just say?

I just went back home briefly there, never mind. It’s a mouth thing.There are words my mouth is designed to accept that you cannot even begin to contemplate. It works both ways.

There are times I never understand the things you say, Sa-la. It’s like you speak a language all of your own.

But I do.

Well, it is a variant of English that is puzzling to me at times.

I understand everything you say?

That’s because I speak English. You just speak!


Well, you speak something else half of the time.

At least I don’t discard the Ts in words like you do.

That’s precisely why no one understands you.

So, it’s larer, not later.


Brigh, not bright?

Not in that context. You can drop the T in some instances, but not when it comes at the end of words.

It’s confusing.

That’s exactly how I feel about you sometimes Sa-la.

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