Operation Uhuru For Sozaboy
No, I am not on crack. I am perfectly sane like the US Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. (Hey guys, just a quick one…do you know the scientific name for soldiers who drink rum on the battlefield? RUMSFIELD! ). Like I was saying before the bombs started dropping in my bowl of cereal, I went to buy a video game. Didn’t you just hear me say I am not on crack…ok then!
I know you are wondering how a village boy like me knows what to do with a MICROSOFT X-BOX or SONY PLAYSTATION? Oh yeah, a whole lot! You know what happens when kids have AK47s to defend themselves…they shoot everything in sight, including your…sorry. I am kind of edgy this days at the mention of guns.
The first challenge I encountered was hooking this toy to my TV. In case you don’t know, I am electronically challenged. All my current electronics are functioning only because of my senior brother. He hooked up my stereo and VCR for free, and the next time I called him to hook up my DVD he came with an invoice. So, this time around, I decided to fight this monster and hook it up by myself. By the time my video game was working my VCR and DVD player were lifeless like the streets of Basra and Nasriya. One beautiful thing happened to my TV too, I could not get CNN. God has a way of answering my prayers. I was getting addicted to CNN and this was affecting my sleep (according to US expert on sleep related matters).
I have never played a video game before in my life (I herded goats and planted okra as a boy! The only game I played was “hide and seek”…and there were blissful benefits in hiding with the right babes.)
Here I am with a 33,500 Naira toy (exchange rate this week is 134 Naira to 1 dollar) and I don’t know what to do with it. The next natural thing to do was call my best American friend Winston. Luckily enough the wife and kids had gone to Colorado on a skiing trip and Winston was nursing a mild case of foot Radiculopathy. (That is the Babangida disease). He agreed to come over and liberate me from my PlayStation ignorance. He agreed to bring some of the latest and gruesome games that will shock and awe me. Games that will make my skin crawl and give me insomnia for months. Games that will rattle my brains from my skull and make my living room smoke like a burning oil field. He promised to bring the very latest game developed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing; this version will bypass me (the game player) and go straight to my garden to decapitate my innocent plants and flowers. It will blow up my stairwell because they look like bridges, and will go straight to my big aquarium in the foyer and bombard all the fishes in my tank…it will be so bloody it will look like Euphrates and Tigris flowing with innocent blood of Iraqi children and nursing mothers after an allied visit.
By now, I was shaking in my boots and wondering what madness goes on in the brain of the people that make video games. What kind of technological innovation drives such insanity. Winston was not done yet. He promised to bring another game that does not check the opponents’ vehicles before it starts shooting. It derives pleasure from discovering that the people it has killed are children and women, not actual combatants. This is cleverly explained away as accidental discharges by the makers of the game and just deducts a few points from the errant player. How morbid, I thought quietly.
By now, I was not too sure why I used my tax refund to buy such a violent past time. It is already heart wrenching enough that my big oga wants to use 79 billion dollars of my tax money to liberate a free people. (Oh, by the way, did you hear they are already dividing the meat while the elephant is still standing? Pompous France had better not show a long arrogant nose in Baghdad to bid for reconstruction after the liberation!)
Ding! Dong!!…aha, Winston is here already. I like this people. They don’t waste time like us. They’re never late for an appointment, be it video game or freedom fighting. They could be a little off on how long a game will take to play, but that is human error. We all make mistakes, but we should be able to deny and refute such mistakes and explain it away like a puff of powder in the eye of the hurricane. “This will take only a few days, it will be quick and precise!” Three weeks later, “Fellow citizens, you have to be patient. This is a very delicate situation. We thought the enemies would be drunk on rum and be asleep while we slaughter them in their slumber. But you know, shit happens and we need a few more months to clean this up. It will only cost a few billions more!”
“Hi Winston, how are you doing my man?”
“I am good man…and you?”
“I am alive, that is the most important thing. Let’s get to business…I really don’t know how this video game thing works”
“Alright that is what I am talking about. I am here to liberate you my friend. By the time I kill you a couple of times you will get the hang of it. I have some that will kill you and feed you charity bread at the same time. Don’t be scared.”
“Cool, I am set for this Operation Sozaboy Freedom. As from today, I will no longer be a village boy who can not play video games.”
“All set, this first one is called VICIOUS VAGABOND.”
Brutal. Winston definitely knows how to play this game. Before I could say Rum, he was already marinating my fields from the sky. He completely carpeted me and I was no good at all at this game. This was an aerial battle.
The next round, I did not let Winston choose the game. I chose one from his pack. Don’t ask me why, but I picked the one that says GROUND WARRIOR. Also I chose my game name, which was “Mau Mau”.
The look on Winston’s face showed that he was not too enthusiastic about my choice. But he grudgingly agreed. I loaded up the bad boy…and the images were familiar. They looked native and rugged. No fanciful military gears, just tattered calico, rags and old hats. It was a ground battle, and there were no rules for this game. It was guerrilla warfare; all is fair that is foul. I could be a chameleon or a scorpion; I could be an army of ants or a battalion of bees. Or I could just decide to be a sniper soldier perching on a tree top in unison with the green foliage and pluck my enemy like mango from there. The background music to this game was a mix of local and traditional music. It sounded like Stimela by Hugh Masekela. I was dancing in my head.
Looking at the scores, it was obvious I was creaming Winston. This was one game he was not good at, the ground battle… He adjusted his joystick a million times, but I know I got him in a tight corner. He is good at air raids not ground battle. Winston’s eyes were red!
“This radiculopathy is acting up again man,” he complained.
“Sorry Winston, did you bring any medication or do you want to check for something useful in my Red Cross emergency supply?”
“Man…are you kidding. This is more serious than your miserable supply. Just don’t worry, it will go away.”
“Ok man. God knows you are the only white friend I have. I don’t want you to die.”
“Thanks man…and you are the only African friend I have. Tell me the truth, who thought you how to play GROUND WARRIOR, I mean play the video game like that?”
“Ah, Winston…tending goats in the village can teach you a whole lot of things. The instincts are buried deep in your heart, like the etchings on a tombstone; they only come alive when it becomes necessary to survive.”
“That is amazing…you were already video game liberated before I stepped in your house.”
He was right. Maybe I did not need video game freedom after all.