Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Independence Day

 Any similarity between the events of today and a popular film of the same name are purely coincidental!

We have been strongly advised to avoid public gatherings of any sort in case we draw attention to ourselves ( as if!) on a potentially volatile day when there are people abroad who would seek to do us harm, or think about doing so having seen us. There is allegedly a high risk of indiscriminate personal abuse or attack from celebrants who may be politically, religiously or alcoholically motivated.

So we can’t travel to see the parades at Ilorin Stadium or jostle with cars, okadas and market traders along Yoruba Road (quel – or is it quelle, dommage – or is it domage!?). We must sadly decline any invitation to the Governor’s House or the State Assembly, and even think twice before venturing out down Old Cemetry Road to the tomato girl.  At the moment – any moment in fact, I have no problem with this – a good day for washing hair, if I had sufficient to occupy me for more than a nano-second.

Actually, my predilection for staying indoors today comes more from  the string of sleepless nights we have had – ever since the vigilantes appeared on the scene. Our sleep has not been so much broken, as shattered, which pretty much describes how we are feeling this morning.

Light and power both went off simultaneously as it happens, at about 10pm last night, which hastened our bedtime. Our night-cap of Hot Chocolate had been a mistake – on a very warm night, with no fans – or even casual admirers! The precise timing and sequence of subsequent events is a bit fuzzy but I know that between flopping down, my temperature at almost fever pitch at 10pm and struggling out from beneath the mosquito net at 6am I only caught a few nuggets of proper sleep.

First came the noise from the bakery  - sounds as of  bursts of a very loud and protracted  fart, with occasional breaks in which the rhythmic shaking of an industrial-sized tambourine can be heard. At this time of night the compound guard dog may or may not be heard – presumably objecting to the racket as much as us. Then come the vehicles to the compound after a night out on the town – or more likely in the church; the associated clanging of the compound gate with all its locks and fixtures,  is a nightly – and indeed daily  occurrence, as  it is repeated any time after 5.30 am when engines are revved in preparation for leaving for the office.

Not long after the first tour of duty of the vigilante brigade was upon us, clanging their metalware while blowing whistles and/or howling. Several groups now seem to operate in this area on adjacent territories. Next, I think came the gunshot. The whole compound shook; any wretched burglar in the vicinity would surely have pooed himself and left a telltale trail all the way back to whatever hole he had crawled out of (I’m not bitter!). Anyway, the gunshot didn’t seem to have disturbed the sleep of the guards, who in true Western style could have been attacked and their throats cut by any invading Red Indians. It did seem to arouse those whose job it is to call the faithful to prayer – and the faithful duly did as they were told – by car.  They got in a bit more howling and whistling before Powerful Praise congregation, presumably also woken by all the noise, kicked off in their usual style with a crescendo of drums, rhythmic chanting and cheering – which set off the dogs again – all this before dawn had even thought of breaking; and when it did, it decided to throw the battering of raindrops on metal roofs and car bonnets into the mix- and why not?! This did seem to arouse the guards who may have been sleeping al fresco as there was almost immediate animated chatter from the direction of their hut before it died away and they just let the rain get on with it.

With a couple of unwelcome dreams thrown in, I have been rather glad of the excuse to go nowhere and do nothing today. Unfortunately, catching up on lost sleep is not an option – the bakery has not yet concluded its business – the good folk of Sabo–Oke still need their daily bread.

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